Morphological evolution of Springbok rugby players: Implications for racial transformation in South African rugby

  • David Stephens
  • Johan Fourie
Keywords: South Africa, Sport economics, Rugby, Biological living standards, Morphological evolution


The physique of rugby players has evolved over the course of the Twentieth Century. A novel morphological dataset was constructed of all Springbok rugby players until 2014. Although most of the change in body structure, particularly body weight, occurs during the era of professionalism, white Springbok rugby players always were found to have been taller and heavier than the average white South African male. Black Springbok rugby players, although shorter than their white counterparts, are much taller than the average black South African male. Since success in rugby depends very largely on physique, the findings have implications for racial transformation in South African rugby. The physique of South African Springboks were also compared with the physique of players in the New Zealand and England national teams.

Keywords: South Africa; Sport economics; Rugby; Biological living standards; Morphological evolution


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 0379-9069