South African rugby is the stuff that legends are made of. According to Rugby World, South Africa has won the Webb Ellis trophy three times, which is an accolade that it only shares with New Zealand.
South Africa is – without a doubt – passionate about rugby. The sport is so much a part of South African lives that a temporary cease-fire was called in the Second Anglo Boer war so that a rugby match could be played!
Here are some little-known facts, which span more than a century, about the South African rugby team.
The First Home Game
The South African’s first home game was against Port Elizabeth, against the British Isles, in 1891. However, they lost to the British, but between 1903 and 1956, they did not lose one series.
South Africa played in their first international match, in Glasgow, in 1906. It was during this tour that the name ‘Springboks’ was coined. Captain Paul Roos gave the team that name, it is said, in order to prevent the British press giving the South African team a name which they had invented.
World Cup Ban
The first Rugby World Cup was held in 1987 and the other in 1991 however sporting bans – which were in place, against South Africa, at the time prevent the country from taking part. This was even though they were the leaders in rugby at that stage.
In the 1995 tournament, South Africa made their debut and the tournament was held in South Africa. This was the first time that they won. This was a momentous occasion for South Africa as this united the country which had been battling against racial segregation for years.
The Springboks vs The All Blacks
South Africa has faced the All Blacks 89 times since 1921 and only five players have played over 100 tests for the Springboks. These are:
- Percy Montgomery
- Bryan Habana
- Victor Matfield
- Jean de Villiers
- John Smit
Five former Springboks have been inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame. These are:
- Hennie Muller
- Morné du Plessis
- Naas Botha
- Danie Gerber
- Joost van der Westhuizen
(Joost van der Westhuizen passed away in 2017 after having been diagnosed with motor neuron disease in 2011. He appeared for the Springboks 89 times and scored 39 tries. Joost mostly played at scrumhalf and was part of the 1995 team which won the Rugby World Cup for South Africa.)
Speaking about the All Blacks, did you know that the Springboks – until 1928 – did a Zulu-type war dance, before every match, which was similar to the Haka? Not something you’d see at an online casino Singapore, but we almost wish we could see it at the next match.
One of the all-time, famous rugby quotes is: “If you are going to be a champion, you must be willing to pay a greater price.” The South African Rugby Team has become champions and is known for their rugby prowess. They did not get here overnight, but they worked diligently at their craft so that they could become the best in the world and continue to occupy that space.