BBC News, Cape Town
In the face of intense political lobbying, the South African Rugby Union (Saru) has finally decided to change the 102-year old emblem of the national team, the Springbok.
But officials are still hammering out exactly what will be used instead, with Saru calling for a compromise emblem that would see the King Protea - South Africa's national flower - emblazoned on the left of the jersey and a smaller springbok on the right.
Given South Africa's traumatic, racially divided past it is hardly surprising that apartheid-era symbols, emblems and names are still highly contentious issues.
For many black people who suffered under apartheid laws that condemned them to a second-class existence, place and street names, emblems and monuments can be a stark reminder of a painful past.
They say the Springbok emblem represents a continuation of dominance by the Afrikaner community and white supremacy.
They point to a statement by the late Danie Craven, former president of the erstwhile whites-only South African Rugby Board, who said blacks would never be allowed to wear the Springbok jersey because they had their own symbols.
Several incidents of racism against black supporters at rugby venues around the country have also highlighted problems still facing a game which is a great source of Afrikaner pride.
While all South Africa's other national teams now use the King Protea as their emblem, the Springbok, representing a graceful, fast and elegant antelope, retained its place as the rugby symbol largely due to former President Nelson Mandela's unequivocal endorsement when he famously wore the shirt during the team's historic World Cup victory on home soil in 1995.
Yet the debate is not clear cut along colour lines.
'Shooting the Springbok'
Several leading and influential black people including Nobel prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former Saru President Silas Nkanunu and star winger Bryan Habana, who was voted the International Rugby Board's Player of the Year in 2007, have all come out in support of retaining the Springbok.
"I support the retention of the Springbok and I pray we will look for better things to fight over," said Archbishop Tutu.
Mr Nkananu, who served as head of rugby between 1998 and 2003, was more forthright, saying the transformation of rugby from an Afrikaner-dominated sport to one that represents all South Africans will not change with the "shooting of the Springbok".
"The removal of the Springbok will not change the fact that enough resources aren't ploughed into the development of the game," he said.
"Rugby is not being played in many black schools where it used to be the case. You can address transformation through support of schools and clubs."
Habana said he had "grown up wearing the Springbok on my chest".
"I'm very proud to be called a Springbok and proud to be called South African," he said.
The vast majority of white people support the retention of the Springbok.
But Luke Watson, who represented the team during the Tri-Nations series against Australia and New Zealand, caused a major uproar in October when he allegedly told a private rugby gathering at the University of Cape Town that the Springbok jersey made him want to vomit on it.
"I have grown to understand the culture, to understand what the Springbok represents and I have become even more accustomed to the oppressive nature of the Springbok toward a majority of the people in this country," Watson was widely reported as saying.
Watson's father Cheeky sacrificed an opportunity to play for the whites-only Springboks in the 1970s, opting to play for a black union instead as a gesture of support for the anti-apartheid struggle.
The latest furore was stoked by a comment from Butana Komphela, the controversial chairman of parliament's Sports Portfolio Committee, who told a national Sports Conference in October that there could be no negotiation on the future of the Springbok.
"The Springbok divides us," he said.
"We have a responsibility to unite our country on one national emblem."
The compromise idea of combining the Springbok and the King Protea has already received support from former Education Minister and ANC stalwart Kader Asmal.
Calling the anti-Springbok posturing by politicians "old-fashioned, anti-reconciliation and counter-productive to fashioning the united non-racial society we yearn for", Mr Asmal said the Springbok now belonged to all South Africans.
Saru President Oregan Hoskins is due to put his case to Sports Minister Makenkhesi Stofile on Tuesday, though a final decision is not expected yet.
It is believed even if the Springbok were to be abandoned, it would take at least nine months for that decision to take effect as jersey stocks have already been ordered that far in advance.
A paradox of the debate is that several non-racial sports bodies used the Springbok head as their emblem during the apartheid era, while the Protea was the symbol of a discredited coloured (mixed-race) national rugby team used by white sports authorities in an attempt to break the international sports boycott.
The future of the Springbok goes beyond the sport of rugby, and when the protagonists discuss the future of the emblem, issues of reconciliation, commercial marketing and South Africa's overall transformation will have to be carefully considered before a final decision is reached.
6 months ago