Wellington - New Zealand rugby saluted Nelson Mandela on Friday, saying the sport had lost "a champion of our game" with the passing of the former South African president.
QUIZ: How well did you know Nelson Mandela?
"New Zealand Rugby has enormous respect for Mandela and his incredible contribution to his country and people. Today we share in his nation's sadness," New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew said.
The appearance of Mandela wearing a Springbok jersey at the final of the 1995 Rugby World Cup is credited with inspiring the South Africans to their win in extra time over the All Blacks.
The symbolism of the black leader shaking hands with the white Springbok captain Francois Pienaar, both wearing the green jersey which had been considered a symbol of the apartheid regime, marked the emergence of the "Rainbow Nation".
"We have lost a champion for our game, a leader whose inspiration ensured the Rugby World Cup in 1995 was a remarkable time for our sport and whose influence on sport has been far-reaching," Tew said.
"His presentation of the Webb Ellis Cup to Francois Pienaar after South Africa overcame the All Blacks in the final is a moment that few New Zealanders will ever forget."