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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 October 2007, 18:56 GMT 19:56 UK
Springboks accused of Soweto snub
Springboks are welcomed back home
The Springboks got a rapturous welcome on the return home
The World Cup-winning South African rugby team have been criticised for dropping the mainly black township of Soweto from their victory parade.

The Springboks, who have returned to a heroes' welcome, will not tour the Johannesburg suburb, which initially featured on their itinerary.

A media manager for the SA Rugby Federation (Sarfu) told AFP agency the decision was a matter of "logistics".

Authorities have accused Sarfu of not attracting enough black players.

After their rapturous welcome home on Tuesday, the Springboks have been forced onto the back foot, trying to explain what has already been branded by some as a snub to Soweto.

We're devastated about it. We were expecting to see our heroes within the backyard of Soweto
Johannes Mhlongo, Soweto Rugby Club

"Unfortunately, while that was the initial plan, the parade does not include Soweto," Sarfu media manager Rayaan Adriaanse said.

"It's simply a matter of logistics and time constraints. We would have liked to go to possibly the entire country but with logistics it's just not possible."

The decision was seen as a bitter blow by the small rugby community from Soweto.

"We're devastated about it. We were expecting to see our heroes within the backyard of Soweto," Johannes Mhlongo - captain of the Soweto Rugby Club (the township's only rugby club) told the BBC.

"We've been worshipping them, supporting them throughout the World Cup and at this stage we should be taking the game to the people."

He said the move would be a blow for recruiting new members.

Race issue

Tsietsi Louw, a lawmaker for the ruling African National Congress (ANC), blasted the decision to drop Soweto from the victory parade as "arrogance".

Bryan Habana (L) and J.P. Pietersen celebrate after the Springboks' victory
Habana (L) and Pietersen are the two non-white players in the first XV
"During the finals, the fan parks were filled with black people. Township shebeens [bars] ran out of drinks with blacks supporting their team," he told AFP.

Rugby has traditionally been a non-black sport since the days of the apartheid regime.

After the dismantling of white minority rule the situation changed, but not enough, according to the authorities.

"This victory should herald a new era - an era in which we all embrace change and tackle the challenges still being faced by our rugby and sport in general," Sports Minister Makhenkesi Stofile said after the Springboks defeated England 15-6 in the final of the World Cup on Saturday.

"Our victory during the 1995 World Cup offered us a window to see what South Africa can be. We did not build on that. May we not commit the same error after this second chance."

Only two players, the two wingers Bryan Habana (recently declared World Player of 2007) and JP Pietersen, are non-white among the Springboks' first XV.

Habana wins player of year award
22 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union
White hails 'important' victory
20 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union

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