Nelson Mandela Bay Executive Mayor, Benson “Oom Ben” Fihla, described today’s first-of-two Super 15 Rugby play-off encounters between the Southern Kings and the Lions at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium as a “do-or-die” match, when he spoke to the Kings’ players today.
“We are all fans of rugby here in Nelson Mandela Bay,” said Mayor Fihla, adding that “rugby is in our blood.”
“It is therefore very important to the people of Nelson Mandela Bay and the greater Eastern Cape Province that we win the match tomorrow,” said a passionate Oom Ben.
“This is a do-or-die match,” said Oom Ben. “If we win, we’re in, if we lose, we’re out.”
“The Lions have been demoted and they will come well-prepared and in full force as they want to return to Super Rugby. As players we, of course, want to remain where we are. And we can only do this with strong determination, commitment, physical strength and motivation.”
“This particular match must be won at all costs,” said Oom Ben, “Because the second leg is not going to be easy for us. Not only must we win this match, but we must win by a huge margin so that we are not on the back foot when we play the return leg in Gauteng.”
In motivating the players, Oom Ben reminded the players of their great showing, courage and strength against the Brumbies earlier in the season: “The same determination with which you played the Brumbies, where you showed courage, strength and character to win at all costs, must be on display here in Nelson Mandela Bay tomorrow.”
Oom Ben also reminded the players how difficult and long it took to get the Eastern Cape into Super Rugby: “We owe it to our fans, the people of Mandela Bay and the people of the Eastern Cape to stay in Super Rugby. We were frustrated so many times before to get into Super Rugby; now that we are here, we must stay here at all costs. So go out, do your very best as I and the people know you can, and make us proud tomorrow!”
Kings captain Darron Nel thanked the Executive Mayor for his words of motivation. “We will give it our very best tomorrow and we will make you proud of us, Sir,” said Nel.
In a later radio interview, Executive Mayor Fihla also emphasised the economic importance of the Kings winning and staying in Super Rugby. “We have a beautiful world-class stadium that needs to regularly host super rugby matches, and every time there is a match here it has a direct injection into the economy of the Eastern Cape,” said Oom Ben.
Mayor Oom Ben has confirmed that he will be at the stadium today cheering on the Kings and encouraged all other Bay residents to do the same.
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