- Title: SOUTH AFRICA: Springboks bring Rugby world cup to Mandela
- Date: 28th October 2007
- Summary: SUPPORTERS WAVING FLAGS
- Embargoed: 12th November 2007 08:00
- Location: South Africa
- Country: South Africa
- Topics: Domestic Politics,Sport
- Reuters ID: LVAD4GVWDCKUHTCKD187BLYJC4A7
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: Soweto residents brave the cold and rainy weather to cheer the rugby world champions as they pay a visit to retired statesman Nelson Mandela, to thank him for all his support in the past four years.
A handful of cheering Soweto residents braved the rain to cheer on the Springbok rugby team on its victory parade through the Johannesburg township on Saturday morning (October 27).
A drive-through in an open-top bus of Soweto, South Africa's largest black township, was marred by bad weather earlier in the day with none of the wild, celebratory scenes seen at visits to Pretoria and Johannesburg on Friday.
Some Springboks' supporters from neighbouring suburbs came to Soweto to catch a glimpse of the rugby champions. They waved flags and shouted as the procession passed. Other cars hooted, and people sang and danced.
As the procession made its way past the Hector Pieterson Memorial members of the team displayed the trophy from the roof of the open topped bus.
The Springboks travelled to Nelson Mandela's residence in Houghton later on Saturday morning and met the former South African president.
Springboks Coach Jake White thanked the 89-year-old Mandela for his unwavering backing of the team, particularly for a DVD that helped motivate the players ahead of the final against defending champions England.
"From all of us, I just want to say thank you very very much, its really appreciated to have your support, and again you probably have the best springboks record ever, everytime you have come to watch a springbok game, we have never lost, so ...long road at at last, thank you very very much from all of us," he said.
Springboks Team Captain Jon Smit, clutching the gold cup, also thanked Mandela.
"We finally get to bring something back to you for all your efforts. From us as a team, thank you for everything you have done for us, finally we get to do something for you and for this country, so thank you very much."
Mandela in reply said the teams' victory on the rugby field had spread the word about South Africa.
Wearing a team shirt, a beaming Mandela said, "All I want to say is that you have put us on the map ... and we congratulate and thank you for that," he said.
Rugby officials were widely criticised for not originally including Soweto in the parade plans, following the massive support shown to the Springboks amongst black people, not traditionally rugby supporters.
The World Cup victory has galvanised South Africans of all races behind the team, similar to the euphoria that followed the 1995 home victory, when Mandela presented the trophy to then captain Francois Pienaar.
Just a year after the country's first democratic elections, the then president wore a replica of Pienaar's jersey in an act of reconciliation that has became one of the enduring images of South African sporting history.
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