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Hoskins calls for Boks support


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South African rugby launched a 'Unite 2011 campaign' on Thursday in a bid to garner more public support for the national team - exactly one year before the start of next year's World Cup.

The Springboks will be defending their crown in New Zealand but have not had the best of seasons thus far, losing five out of the 10 Tests played. All those defeats came in the Tri-Nations, where Peter de Villiers' side turned in their worst ever display in the competition's 15-year history.

"It may seem a long way away after such disappointing results in the Tri-Nations, but the lesson of history is that the Springboks have every chance of retaining the World Cup," said South African Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins. "Four years ago results were probably even more concerning, but a year later John Smit lifted the trophy and I'm sure South Africans will unite behind the team as they did four years ago."

Hoskins was also hoping South Africans would maintain the hype of the football World Cup, which they hosted earlier this year, in the build-up to New Zealand.

He added: "The soccer World Cup saw the country unite behind Bafana Bafana and we want them to keep the flag flying for the Springboks over the next 12 months and then all the way to the final."

The tournament kicks off on September 9 when the All Blacks face Tonga in Auckland, before the defending champions play Wales in Wellington two days later.