oa South African Journal of Cultural History - Sport and politics - John Vorster and the park rugby club in Port Elizabeth, 1940-1942



John Vorster lived in Port Elizabeth for little over three years, he arrived in the city in September 1939 and was forced to leave in December 1942. During his stay in Port Elizabeth, he took up the cudgels on behalf of the White Afrikaans-speaking community who were not receiving a fair deal. One particular area in which Vorster believed the Afrikaner was getting a raw deal was rugby, a dominating facet of recreational life. As representative of the Park Rugby Club, John Vorster accordingly challenged the Eastern Province Rugby Union. The confrontation between Vorster, along with the Park Rugby Club, and the EPRU hinged on the issue of rugby being played for the Second World War effort or not. Being the staunch Afrikaner Nationalist that he was, Vorster opposed the efforts of the EPRU to promote the war effort on behalf of the Allied forces, with Britain the dominant partner. He, Vorster, was highly critical of South Africa's involvement in the Second World War as the war sentiment favoured British interests. Thus, the conflict between Vorster and the EPRU had definite political undertones. By the time Vorster was arrested and interned, the differences between the Park Rugby Club and the EPRU had become temporarily insurmountable and led to a split within the EPRU for the duration of the war. In those years, 1940-1942, sport and politics were closely entwined, as evidenced by Vorster's clash with the EPRU concerning the exploitation of rugby for political ends.


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