Mbeki to host the Boks

President Thabo Mbeki will host the World Cup-winning Springboks at a formal reception, signalling a growing acceptance of the team and coach Jake White among the country's ruling party.

President Thabo Mbeki will host the World Cup-winning Springboks at a formal reception, signalling a growing acceptance of the team and coach Jake White among the country's ruling party.

White, whose contract ends on December 31, and the South African team have endured criticism over the past four years for a perceived unwillingness to embrace transformation and include more black players in the national team.

But after beating defending champions England 15-6 in Paris on Saturday, the team returned to South Africa on Tuesday riding a wave of political and public support.

Mbeki told Metro FM: "It would indeed be odd that, in the moment of victory, which comes after a long period of preparation, you say, 'thank you for your services White, goodbye'.

"Here is this team that went right through the tournament without losing a game. We end up with the player of the year, the coach of the year and the team of the year. Drop the coach - why?" the president said.

White has said he needs a period of reflection before deciding on his future. But SA Rugby has advertised his job and applications close today.

Butana Komphela, the chairman of parliament's portfolio committee on sport, has been especially strong in his criticism of the team and White, telling a Cape Town radio station days before the final: "I've been saying for a long time that because of the passionate hate that Jake White has, his removal as coach is long overdue."

An SA Rugby statement yesterday said Mbeki would meet the Springboks tomorrow in the Union Buildings. - Reuters

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