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Government goes green to hail victorious rugby World Cup squad

Government goes green to hail victorious rugby World Cup squad

South African government ministers attended a cabinet meeting Wednesday clad in the green and gold of the Springboks, demonstrating the national pride that has swept the country since the World Cup final victory over England.
Most ministers wore a Springboks shirt or hat _ deputy president Phumzile Mlambo Mlambo-Ngquka wore both during question time in parliament _ and the walls of the meeting room were draped in rugby flags.
Government communications head Themba Maseko said this was the ministers' way of showing appreciation to the Springboks for bringing the trophy back to South Africa after an absence of 12 years.
Rugby was the sport most closely associated with the apartheid era and has been criticized for being the most resistant to change.
Only two of South Africa's regular starting lineup at the World Cup in France were nonwhite. But the victory has united the whole country and boosted hopes that young blacks will now embrace the sport.
The Springboks squad returned home Tuesday to a rapturous welcome from thousands of fans, and will embark on a four-day victory tour from Friday.
The Springbok _ which used to be regarded as a white elitist emblem _ has become a source of national pride.
By contrast, soccer, the preferred sport of the black majority, is in crisis with the national team struggling to find form under Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira.
Even the name of the squad _ Bafana Bafana (Boys, Boys) _ has fallen out of official favor.
"What kind of a name is it?" President Thabo Mbeki said in a radio interview Tuesday. "I don't think it is fit for a senior national team or for the hosts of the 2010 World Cup."
He said the public should participate in the search for a better name. Mbeki also wants new names for the women's team _ Banyana Banyana _ and the under-23's, Amaglug-glug.
Mbeki believes the soccer team's colors, which changed from gold to yellow in 1992, need to be reassessed. He said the Springboks' green kit with gold trimmings had become one of South Africa's best-known brands.


Updated : 2021-10-20 05:45 GMT+08:00