n African Journal for Physical Health Education, Recreation and Dance - Sports heroes and national identity : the role of Paul Roos in Springbok rugby history - : sport history

Volume 17, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1117-4315


A question frequently asked is how did it happen that Rugby Union became the national game of the white minority in South Africa? This paper aims to throw some light on this question and especially the role of Paul Roos, South Africa's first captain of a touring side. Paul Roos was also involved in naming them the 'Springboks'. The circumstances after the Anglo-Boer War made this tour a very challenging venture. Some team members fought the Boers during the war whilst some were serving time as Boer prisoners-of-war. It was believed that the tour would salvage relations between Afrikaans and English speaking South Africans. The choice of Paul Roos as captain made this possible and the success of this tour had put South African rugby on the world map and also played a major role in the emerging Afrikaner nationalism. Sources used were documents from the Paul Roos archive and museum as well as newspapers, journal articles and books.

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