The Springboks and Apartheid

International Protest

  


After the establishment of Apartheid in 1948, it became the norm for national teams visiting South Africa to quietly drop their players of color.  New Zealand in particular was recognized for its willingness to play South Africa despite of growing vocal protests against it, both within South Africa and internationally.  After the "Wind of Change" speech by Harold Macmillan, Britain's Prime Minister, to the South African congress in 1960, as well as the Sharpeville Massacre, in which South African police killed 69 unarmed black protesters, international voices began to express their disapproval of Apartheid.  After the Soweto Uprising by high school students, in which another 176 unarmed protesters were killed, 28 countries boycotted the 1976 Summer Olympics in protest of Apartheid.  

The following year, in 1977, the Gleneagles Agreement was signed by the Commonwealth of Britain, which discouraged any Commonwealth nation from competing in any sports with South Africa.  Although South Africa desegregated its rugby unions in response, the Agreement was not lifted.  In 1981 Errol Tobias became the first colored man to play for the Springboks, but still the agreement stood.   After a Springbok tour of New Zealand went ahead without sanction later that year, the International Rugby Board Banned South Africa from all international events, not just events within the Commonwealth.

When the Apartheid regime was dismantled in 1990 and 1991, the process began for the Springboks to return to international polls of play.  South Africa was officially readmitted into global rugby events,  but for two years the team struggled to reassert its former dominance over the sport.  The appointment of Kitch Christie as the Springboks' new head coach in the summer of 1994 prepared the team for their first ever Rugby World Cup the following year, which brings us back to Nelson Mandela and his plan to reunite the people of South Africa.

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Megan Shadley,
Dec 18, 2012, 11:56 AM
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Megan Shadley,
Dec 18, 2012, 11:57 AM
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