Flower power to replace Springbok emblem

South African rugby has been told it must drop the Springbok as its official emblem, although the animal could still be worn on the national team's jersey.

National newspaper the Sunday Times reported that the South African Sports Commission had ratified a decision that rugby should fall in line with the country's other sporting codes and adopt the king protea - a flower - as its official emblem.

"We had discussions with the sports commission two or three weeks ago and they made a proposal that we are busy discussing," SA Rugby chief executive Songezo Nayo said from Sydney where he is attending a meeting of Sanzar (South Africa New Zealand Australia Rugby) chief executives.

A leaping springbok was first worn on South African rugby jerseys on the 1906-1907 tour of Britain and Ireland. Since South Africa's return from international isolation in 1992 it has also featured a king protea.

Rugby was given special dispensation by former president Nelson Mandela to retain its Springbok identity when all other sports - who had also adopted the name of Springboks - were ordered to drop the badge and title.

Sarfu spokesperson Anthony Mackaiser said: "The relationship between the protea and the springbok is changing but the official logo will have to be the protea, although on the jersey they can keep the Springbok.

"It's important that people understand that the Springbok will not become extinct."

Sports Commission chief executive Joe Phaahla told the Sunday Times: "In terms of what the team wears on the field and promotion of rugby, if they want to retain the Springbok, that's their decision," he was quoted as saying.

"But the blazers and caps and any use of the national emblem would have to reflect the king protea."


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