Friday, October 26, 2007


The South African rugby team are to include Soweto in their victory parade after winning the World Cup in France. The SA Rugby Federation (Sarfu) president announced this amid cheers as he presented the trophy to President Thabo Mbeki in the capital, Pretoria. This follows complaints from the black township that it had been left out of the Springboks' celebration plans.
Sarfu has been under pressure to bring more black players into the game, with the national side still mostly white. "We are going to Soweto early in the morning [on Saturday], Sarfu's President Oregan Hoskins said on Friday. "We made a promise to the nation that we will take rugby to the people," he said, speaking at the Union Buildings which house the South African presidency.

President Mbeki welcomed the move and said the World Cup victory should inspire children across the colour divide to rugby. Hundreds of fans gathered in the street outside the Union Buildings and thousands more lined the route the Springboks were to take through Pretoria, the BBC's Peter Greste reports from the city. Some fans and clubs in Soweto interpreted it as a snub when a Sarfu spokesman said on Thursday that Soweto had been left out of the victory tour itinerary for reasons of "logistics".

"We've been worshipping them, supporting them throughout the World Cup and at this stage we should be taking the game to the people," Johannes Mhlongo - captain of the Soweto Rugby Club (the township's only rugby club) told the BBC. He said the move would be a blow for recruiting new members. Among the Springbok's first XV, only two players - the two wingers Bryan Habana (recently declared World Player of 2007) and JP Pietersen - are not white.



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