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Race and South African rugby: a review of the 1919 “all black” tour

FJG Van Der Merwe

Abstract


In as much as British civil rugby leagues were suppressed during the First World War, rugby in military guise experienced a revival. The highlight was the Interservices Tournament in 1919 in which Great Britain and the Dominions competed for the King George V Cup. New Zealand was the eventual winner of this trophy. In South Africa the South African Rugby Board wanted to boost local rugby after a lull caused by the war. Thus they invited the New Zealand Services team to tour South Africa for six weeks on their way home. The negative aspect of this tour was the prior request of the South African Rugby Board for them not to bring any coloured players. The South African High Commissioner in London, W.P. Schreiner, extended the invitation and was satisfied with the coloureds being included in the team, but it was his son, Bill Schreiner, who voted against it at the Rugby Board meeting. The players concerned were Ranji Wilson and Parekura Tureia. This scandal would rock the rugby world only years later. The positive aspect of the tour was the new ideas and enthusiasm the tour brought to South African rugby. South African forward play and tackling were subsequently improved. It also gave new impetus to the Springboks’ desire to tour New Zealand. This tour only became a reality in 1921.

Key words: Rugby; New Zealand; South Africa; 1919 “All Black” tour; Ranji Wilson; Parekura Tureia; First World War.





South African Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation.   ISSN: 0379-9069