Media Release: Hundreds of Garden Routers welcome 2023 Rugby World Champion Manie Libbok in George
For immediate release
10 November 2023
Manie Libbok, 2023 Rugby World Cup winner, received a hero’s welcome by Garden Routers when he arrived at the Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) Head-Office in George on Wednesday, 8 November 2023.
The first citizen of the Garden Route, Ald. Memory Booysen, could not wait to welcome Libbok to the district. Libbok is also a former Kwagga – a learner from Outeniqua High School in George. He was also a member of South Western District (SWD) Eagles Rugby Team before he was selected as a member of the Stormers. Subsequently, the Bok-squad became the next journey of his professional career.
Young and old long awaited to meet the star who is a role-model to especially children, who love rugby. Before Mayor Booysen handed over a Certificate of Honour to the rugby legend, he unexpectedly received a signed jersey from the man of the moment himself. Mayor Booysen also, originally from the Eastern Cape like Libbok, cheered the hero more than he could deliver a normal speech. Libbok was born in Humansdorp and Mayor Booysen in Hankey.
It was an ecstatic moment when Mayor Booysen called his biggest fans to the front; a relative of Libbok, Anita Jansen, and Springbok supporter Lee-Ann Eksteen, who wore a shirt with Libbok’s name on the back. Both are employees of GRDM. Tait said: “It is an honour for me to meet Manie and it is also the first time to see a Springbok in person”. Before both rejoined the crowd, Libbok embraced his Aunt Nita and Eksteen and started to brace himself for the huge task ahead – hundreds of shirts waited to be signed. Kids also brought their rugby balls to be signed and now hundreds of Springbok shirts of residents of the Garden Route reflect the signature of Libbok!
Mayor Booysen further said: “We are not just proudly Garden Routers, but we are proudly South Africans, we are not just proudly South Africans, we are proud Springbok supporters”. To Manie Mayor Booysen said: “Manie you are a hero. Not just for one reason, but for two reasons, three reasons; we are the fourth time World Champions!” Mayor Booysen further stated: “On behalf of the Garden Route, the Mayors in the district and more than 700 000 people, you have put us on the map – you have put us on top of the world! Because of Manie, the Springboks and their technical team, we are one of the best-known countries in the world…”.
When taking the crowd through memory lane of highlights regarding Libbok’s performance during the World Cup, especially the test match against Scotland, GRDM Deputy Executive Mayor, Ald. Gert van Niekerk reiterated what his drop-kick to Kurt-Lee Arendse meant for the team and the country. He said: “Manie, you almost gave me a heart-attack. Out of nowhere, this kick-pass came to a flying Kurtley Arendse….Manie you made my day that day – it still gives me goosebumps every time I think about that moment”, Ald. Van Niekerk said. The “no-look” drop-kick resulted in a try for the Boks.
The GRDM hereby would like to extend words of sincere appreciation to all who attended this short-notice memorable welcome of Libbok to the district, the South African Police Service, Provincial Traffic Services, George Municipality’s Traffic Services, Mike Roczynski for transporting Libbok, as well as Eden FM Radio station and various media outlets who distributed supportive messages to members of the public.
While Libbok met his fans and signed t-shirts, Mayor Booysen in his media interview said: “It is indeed a pleasure for us and for me as District Mayor to host Manie Libbok as a son of the soil. This is an opportunity for the youngsters to look up to and meet the heroic person”.
In closing Mayor Booysen said: “Libbok is not just a hero, but a World Champion – today is an an indication that these kids will follow suit!”