GEORGE RUGBY NEWS & VIDEO - Not many people can count South Africa's top rugby players amongst their friends, which puts the Sedgefielder Mark Nancarrow (23) in a special category - he accompanies the Springboks on their travels nationally and abroad. He was chosen as the MTN Bozza last year after a lengthy nationwide screening process by MTN, the official team sponsor of the Springboks.
During a visit to Sedgefield and the Southern Cape, he spoke to the George Herald about this life-changing experience.
He matriculated at Glenwood House in 2013. After that he studied journalism at Rhodes University and also did an honours in political science at the University of Cape Town. At one stage he did a internship at the George Herald.
In 2018, while on a visit to South-east Asia Thailand and Myanmar, his girlfriend Sharne called and told about the MTN Bozza competition. She had heard about it on the radio.
He came back to South Africa in May and submitted his video application. Later he was informed that he is on the shortlist of six. "I was surprised. I had actually forgotten about it."
At the beginning of June the contestants were flown to Johannesburg, where they were interviewed by about 10 people. The interviews were recorded on video. A week later He received a call from MTN to inform him that he had made it to the top three.
The English rugby team was in South Africa at the time and the finalists were asked to attend a test between the Brits and the Springboks. He attended the test in Bloemfontein.
He met the Springboks and also Rassie Erasmus, trainer of the team. "It was a life-changing experience. I didn't think that I would win and enjoyed every moment." He returned home with good memories.
Later, it was again back to Johannesburg - this time for the final announcement. Some of the Springbok captains like John Smit and Cornè Krige were present. The announcement was one of the best days of his life.
In July he moved to Johannesburg to take on his new responsibilities. He is based in Johannesburg and his contract runs till the end of September after the Word Cup tournament in Japan.
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Since the announcement he has travelled with the Springboks to Australia, New Zealand, England, Wales and France. He was present when the Springboks won the game against the All Blacks in Wellington, New Zealand. "I couldn't believe it."
While Nancarrow is with the team, he manages the MTN Bozza social media account. "I try to show what is happening behind the scenes. I have access that journalists don't have."
He says in the beginning some of the players were a bit wary, but this later changed. "At his stage I would consider some of them as friends. I am more close to some of the younger players such as Damian Willemse, Aphiwe Dyantyi and Jesse Kriel."
The new year is in full swing and he returned to Johannesburg earlier this week. A busy schedule lies ahead and he will be travelling with the Springboks to Australia, New Zealand and Argentina.
In September he is off to Japan for the World Cup. He says the Springboks are the dark horse in the World Cup. "Nobody expects us to win." But he is optimistic. He says coach Rassie Erasmus brought new life to the team. "Rassie is a rugby genius."
He emphasises that being the MTN Bozza is no holiday. "It is hard work. When I got home [Sedgefield] I was really exhausted."
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