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On-off-on White-Mbeki meeting off again

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The disputatious meeting between Springbok coach Jake White and South African President Thabo Mbeki appears to have been postponed … at the request of White.

This development follows earlier revelations that a member of White’s Bok management team had written a letter – on instructions from the powers that be at the South African Rugby Union (SARU) – in which it was requested that the entire team, and not just the Bok coach, pay the country’s Head of State a “courtesy visit” on Friday.

Now it appears that White, who is unhappy that the meeting will no longer take place on his terms, have requested a postponement.

Presidential spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga said in a statement on Thursday that White’s meeting with Mbeki has been postponed at White’s request.

“The presidency will schedule another meeting, if or when Mr White makes another request in future,” he said.

White was to have met Mbeki in Cape Town late on Friday afternoon.

The presidency also announced that it had no knowledge of the reports of a request for the entire Bok team to attend White’s now postponed meeting with the President.

However we have it on good authority that SARU president Oregan Hoskins instructed a member of White’s management team to write the letter and forward it to the Head of State.

“I do not know of that request… I have not seen the letter,” presidential spokesman Ratshitanga said on Thursday.

The meeting was to have taken place on the eve of the Boks’ opening Tri-Nations match, against the Wallabies at Newlands, in Cape Town, on Saturday.

Our sources confirmed on Thursday that a member of the Bok management had written the letter in which they requested that they be afforded the opportunity to “join” their coach at the meeting.

Earlier in the week, the suggestion of a possible meeting between White and President Mbeki caused an uproar when the SARU leadership “advised” the coach not to go ahead with the visit.

“The South African Rugby Union has advised Springbok coach Jake White to cancel his meeting with President Thabo Mbeki, due to the fact that internal protocol was not followed,” a SARU statement said on Tuesday.

“Given this bold step that has been taken by the Springbok coach, SARU realises that Mr White has issues that are unresolved between himself and his leadership. The leadership would therefore like to afford Mr White an opportunity to his concerns internally before he can take any issues to an external audience.”

The now very public showdown between the coach and the SARU leadership even became a topic for heated debate in the Parliamentary Sports Committee this week.

SARU’s leadership were castigated for not responding to accusations that the ANC and the President were plotting to take over rugby. These accusations allegedly came from White’s lawyer.

By Jan de Koning 365 Digital

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