SA Rugby joined the global chorus of tributes being paid to Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who has passed away at the age of 90 on Sunday.
The Nobel laureate was a much-loved and admired campaigner on numerous causes throughout his life – most notably in the struggle against apartheid – who went on to become a powerful voice for reconciliation in post-apartheid South Africa.
Tutu – familiarly known as “the Arch” – coined the phrase “Rainbow Nation” to describe SA’s diversity and remained an outspoken watchdog against social injustice from wherever it emanated.
“We have lost another giant and our country is immensely the poorer for it,” said Mark Alexander, president of the SA Rugby Union.
“Archbishop Tutu stood for all that was the best of us as a nation and his fearless freedom fighting was an example to all of us to oppose injustice wherever it occurs – he was our moral compass and always pointed in the principled direction.
“He was a strong supporter of rugby in South Africa, and I remember very well the pleasure he took from meeting the Springboks on their Rugby World Cup trophy tour in Cape Town in 2019 and how humbled were our players to be greeted by him.
“But he also took our sport to task over the years for our failures and our hesitancies – and we always listened.
“The example he set and the principles he stood for will be sorely missed.”
Archbishop Tutu is survived by his wife, four children, seven grandchildren and great-grandchildren.