World Champions

The Story of South African Rugby
Publisher: Best Red
Availability:in stock 1000 item(s)
Product Length: 464CM
Width: 168CM
Height: 235CM

About the book

Rugby was established at the Cape in 1879 in support of a political desire to promote Englishness, but the Afrikaner developed a special affinity for the game and it became a significant part of his culture. It also spread rapidly amongst ethnically-mixed communities, the Muslim descendants of slaves, and a black middle-class emerging from mission stations.

The Cape’s rugby establishment enforced racial separation, some years before the government implemented a system of segregation. The story of South African rugby subsequently evolved through two pillars that controlled the game for the greater part of the twentieth century: the white SA Rugby Football Board and the non-racial SA Coloured Rugby Football Board, later known as SARU.  

Each chapter tells its own story, exploring key events and questioning entrenched narratives. Meticulous research has led to a fascinating window on society, examining the way one side of the racial divide enjoyed periods of success as unofficial world rugby champions, while the other struggled in the face of relentless challenges up to – and beyond – unity in 1992.

This story could not have been written earlier. It needed the 2019 Rugby World Cup when Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe scored South Africa’s first-ever tries in a final; Duane Vermeulen was ‘man of the match’, and Siya Kolisi held aloft the Webb Ellis Cup. This memorable success inspired a genuine appreciation of the skills that have always existed across the racial spectrum.


About the author

Jonty Winch received a Master of Arts degree with distinction from De Montfort University’s International Centre for Sports History and Culture, and was then awarded his Ph.D. from Stellenbosch University. He has balanced his career interests in photography, journalism and education with involvement in more than a dozen books on sporting history in southern Africa. His research has also led to articles on the game for accredited international academic publications, and winning the British Society of Sports History ‘Best Article in Sport in History’ in 2008.

In recent years, he has played a prominent role in the task of recording a full history of South African cricket and placing the development of the game in political context. He co-authored Cricket & Conquest: The History of South African Cricket Retold 1795–1914 (2016); Cricket & Society in South Africa 1910-1971: From Union to Isolation (2018); and Too Black to Wear Whites: The Remarkable Story of Krom Hendricks, a Cricket Hero who was rejected by Cecil John Rhodes’s Empire (2020).

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