Sunday, October 28, 2007


Nelson Mandela met the team, including wing star Bryan Habana.
Mandela's speech

South Africa's World Cup-winning rugby team has paraded through Soweto and met Nelson Mandela after reversing an earlier decision not to visit the area. However, steady rain and cold weather, plus short notice of the visit, meant few fans turned out to greet the team. The tour was organised after complaints from the black township that it was left out of the celebration plans.

Rugby authorities have come under pressure to select more black players in what is traditionally a white sport. Among the Springboks' first XV, only two players - wingers Bryan Habana (recently declared World Player of 2007) and JP Pietersen - are not white.
The BBC's Peter Greste, in Soweto, says the Springboks' arrival was heralded by an escort of police motorbikes.

Rain and cold meant few people lined the parade route. But with the weather cold, wet and miserable, the organisers had everything against them, our correspondent adds.
Just a handful of people lined the streets of the sprawling township to cheer the team through.
Shortly afterwards the team visited former President Nelson Mandela, 89.
"You have put us on the map," Mr Mandela told the team. "I doubt if there is anybody who doesn't know of the resistance of South Africa."

The Springboks decided to tour Soweto following an outcry when officials left the area out of the original victory tour itinerary, blaming "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.
The row surrounding the team's visit to Soweto has soured that sense of unity, our correspondent says.
But the organisers are planning many more parades in towns and cities across the country over the coming week.
They plan to stretch any lingering sense of pride and goodwill for as long as possible.



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