The Springboks veered off from their normal schedule on Sunday to visit the iconic Old Trafford in Manchester for the Barclays Premier League clash between Manchester United and Arsenal.
The South African team was invited by Richard Arnold, Group CEO of Manchester United, when he met Springbok captain Jean de Villiers at a rugby match in Cape Town earlier this season.
On Saturday, Mr Arnold attended the Springboks’ 24-15 victory over Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff as an official guest of the team.
The Springboks’ next Test, against Scotland in Edinburgh, is next Sunday, which gives them an additional day off after the victory over Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.
“We have a whole bunch of very avid soccer fans in the team and this is a once in a life-time opportunity for many of us,” said De Villiers on Sunday.
“Manchester United is an iconic sports brand and it’s been a dream of many members of our squad to see them in action. We’re very thankful to go to Old Trafford and to see the multiple Premier League champions take on the current log leaders, Arsenal, makes it even more special.”
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said it was great to see the players get time to recharge their batteries with the visit to Old Trafford.
“We’ve stressed from the start of this tour that we need to keep our players as fresh as possible physically and mentally, and travelling via Manchester has given the players an opportunity to relax a bit before we start our preparations for Scotland,” said Meyer.
“The challenge against Scotland is always a big one and will have to be at our best at Murrayfield on Sunday. As soon as we hit the training field this week, I know the players will be focused and ready for the task at hand.”