n Journal for Contemporary History - Die 1981 Springbok-rugbytoer na Nieu-Seeland : die katalisator in die stryd teen apartheid in Suid-Afrikaanse rugby

Volume 28, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0258-2422
  • E-ISSN: 2415-0509



In analysing the history of South African sport the 1981-Springbok rugby tour to New Zealand is always mentioned as one of the turning points in the struggle against apartheid in South African sport. Due to the nature of the segregated sports development in South Africa, there has always been a racial undertone in the rugby relations between South Africa and New Zealand, but the All Blacks have always been one of South Africa's closest rugby allies. The 1981 tour, however, changed all of this, mainly because it caused a rift within the New Zealand rugby community and led to strong political undertones that nearly halted the tour. Various anti-apartheid groupings, the New Zealand police force and the rugby-mad New Zealand people came in confrontation with one another during the tour. This confrontation was orchestrated by 'behind the scenes' developments, and attempts by the anti-apartheid organisations to dismantle apartheid in South African sport. By disrupting and almost stopping the tour, these orchestrated attempts by the anti-apartheid movements set an example for future actions against apartheid in South African sport. These actions not only stunned the rugby public in New Zealand, but television brought these visuals to the homes of many white South Africans for whom it was their first real experience of the boycott actions against South African sport.

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