Johannesburg - As much as Saturday’s first Test between the Springboks and England ignited a fire within that has seldom been seen since 1995 in rugby stadiums across the country, the second Test promises to be just as emotional, if not more, given the significance of the day.
But while the country will celebrate Youth Day, and focus on remembering the horrors of June 16, Springbok captain Siya Kolisi will celebrate his 27th birthday as he leads his group of Green and Gold Warriors onto the field, according to supersport.com website.
But while it is expected that President Cyril Ramaphosa will be at the game, and Kolisi’s wife and children will be in attendance, the one man who would have loved to be there - Fezakele Kolisi - will be sitting patiently at home in Port Elizabeth watching his son play.
Fezakele, who boarded his first flight to Nelspruit to watch his son make his Bok debut against Scotland in 2013 has been inundated with calls and messages since Kolisi was announced as the Bok captain.
But last week he missed the flight to Johannesburg and the chance to see his son lead the team onto the field against England in what was the proudest moment of his life.
While Kolisi’s team-mates will hold a small ceremony to celebrate his birthday after the game on Saturday, Fezakele will not be in the stands, but will make his way down to Cape Town to see his son play in the third Test at Newlands next week.
The day will also mark a historic moment as Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira runs out alone to become the first black player - and sixth overall - to earn 100 Test caps. Mtawarira, who has been the “cornerstone” of the Bok pack for so long now, will get a fitting reception to the loud cries of “Beast” as he runs on to make another little bit of history in the Green and Gold.
The game is heading for a sell-out - less than 3 000 tickets are left of the 41 000 available seats for the game and the Free State capital is set to be overtaken by a sea of green this weekend as guest houses and hotels report full bookings ahead of the game.
But when the team runs out for the brutal 80 minutes of bruising rugby, they will do so with a mountain of emotion. Not only for Beast, or Siya’s birthday, but also for the memory of those who died on the day in history.
So much emotion surrounded the first Test in Johannesburg, but Bloemfontein is set for a scorcher on Saturday. And a Bok victory will not only sew up the series and give Kolisi a massive present as captain of the side.
It will also see South African rugby take another bold, new step into the future.
And give one father back in Port Elizabeth an early Father’s Day present.