Ulster captain, Johann Muller, appeared emotional on Saturday evening when a minute’s silence was observed before their Heineken Cup Pool Five match against Treviso following the death of Nelson Mandela last Thursday.
Being a native of South Africa, along with Ruan Pienaar, Muller said it had been a sad time for those back in his home country.
Many will recall the moment on June 24, 1995 when the Springboks played New Zealand in the World Cup final in South Africa.
President Mandela appeared wearing a Springboks shirt and later presented the trophy to winning captain, Francais Pienaar.
It was one of the most iconic moments of all time, given its significance.
Muller, who was 14 at the time, said 40 or 50 million of us (South Africans) watched the game.
“We were on a rugby tour in Port Elizabeth at the time of the final. We watched it together as a team.
“It was a special moment. The celebrations that happened then in 1995 and in 2007 (South Africa were champions again) through rugby were very special memories and we as rugby players will always treasure them,” said Muller, who was involved in the 2007 and 2011 World Cups with the Springboks.
Reflecting on the death of Mandela, Muller said: “It was a sad weekend.
“I think the respect shown out there (at Ravenhill) tonight means a lot of myself and Ruan.
“To be in a different country and have that sort of respect shown - it was a special moment.”
Given the South African connections with Ulster over the years, there are always a few South African flags flown by the supporters.
During the minute’s silence on Saturday night - an act which was observed at all rugby grounds hosting European games over the weekend - two South African flags were raised by fans in the East Terrace of the Belfast stadium.
A big picture of Nelson Mandela was also display on the big screens of the ground.
Muller added: “Looking back at the World Cup in 1995 and 2007, it is amazing what sport can do for any country. Those were special moments in my life.”
Meanwhile, Ulster are expected to field the same starting side which secured a bonus point win over Treviso on Saturday evening and keeps them in control of Pool Five.
Two tries from Luke Marshall and one apiece for Paddy Jackson, John Afoa, Dan Tuohy, Sean Doyle and Andrew Trimble, plus 13 points from the boot of Jackson, got the first leg of their Italian job completed.
The go to Treviso this Saturday for the return leg with a two point lead over Leicester Tigers who also secured a bonus point win over Montpellier on Sunday.
Ulster coach, Mark Anscombe, said there were no further injuries to concern him from the empathic win over Treviso.
But he also did not expect any of those on the current injury list who may be close to a return to be involved this weekend.
Anscombe also warned his players not to get ahead of themselves as they prepare for what will be a tricky game in Italy.
“We can’t afford to get ahead of ourselves. We are half-way through and we have three tough games ahead of us to try to get through to qualify,” said Anscombe.
“We are realistic and we know we have to keep our feet on the ground,” added Anscombe.