South Africa: Singing it from the heart

(IRB.COM) Thursday 26 August 2010
 South Africa: Singing it from the heart
South Africa's players sing their anthem "from the heart" - Photo:

Lining up alongside your teammates for the playing of your national anthem is a special moment for any player, but for South Africa's squad at Women's Rugby World Cup 2010 the emotions are magnified a hundred fold.

This is because the version of Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika played at Surrey Sports Park before all their World Cup matches was actually recorded by the whole squad in a Cape Town studio a few months ago.


The decision to record their own version was taken because the squad "weren't too happy" with the anthem played before some of their previous matches and decided to utilise their love of singing to give them a sense of extra pride at the World Cup.

"When we were playing [Kazakhstan] in Dubai, they played a national anthem and it wasn't proper," explained second row Dolly Mavumengwana.

"So we thought because we can sing and we are proud of our nation, we wanted to sing it nicely and bold, so decided to give it a go. It was so much fun, it was awesome and we really bonded when we were singing, it was a great thing for us.

Goose bumps

"I asked somebody if the national anthem that is playing is the one that is recorded and they said yes and it was like wow, that is great, I am surprised. It makes us feel good. I can't express it, you feel good that it is being sung the way we wanted it to be."

South Africa has 11 official languages with all of them spoken with the Women's Rugby World Cup squad, but bringing the squad together for the recording sessions at Durbanville in Cape Town was not a problem according to Aimee Barrett.

"The whole team was up for it. It was a different situation, inside the studio it was all microphones and very different to the field, but it was fantastic," admitted the full back only days after South Africa recorded their first ever World Cup victory.

"It was a different experience but really worthwhile because obviously we're far away from home and to hear that anthem play, we can sing it loud and proud.

"It was amazing [to hear it played for the first time at a match], definitely a goose bumps moment. I think I can definitely speak for all of the team when I say that every time you sing the anthem, I'm even getting goose bumps now just thinking about it."

Barrett admits it took "quite a few goes" to get the final version just right, but while she is hugely proud of the finished product, she is also keen to stress that rugby is what the squad are here to play.

Springbok challenge

"South Africa is quite well known for their singing, but in this World Cup we want to be known for our rugby ... but now we've got the rugby to remind everyone that we can sing as well."

South Africa certainly caused a surprise by beating Wales 15-10 on day two and if they can reproduce that performance against Australia in their final Pool A match then their goal of a top six finish will still be attainable.

"It will be a big step for us but we are prepared to take it and for us we have a few goals, to make a statement and we are coming here to be one of the biggest teams and to fight against them, not standing back at any time," added Lorinda Brown.

"It is actually a boost for us, the people back home, our culture is rugby mad, they don't want any losses and for us winning that game against Wales is very important for us. Now we will go out there putting our bodies on the line trying to beat Australia."

And after that, who knows maybe an anthem sing-off with the Springboks?

"I can't say I've heard their voices but I would say the Springbok women definitely have the better voices," added Barrett with a smile. "But you never know for the future."