Rugby isn’t just rugby in South Africa: it’s not merely a sport that occupies our Saturdays. In South Africa, rugby has always been entwined with the politics of the land; whether it was denying players of colour the opportunity to represent the national team, former President Nelson Mandela donning a Springbok jersey at the ’95 World Cup or the contentious issue of the quota system in the Springbok squad.
Many have said that politics and sports should be kept separate; believing that they are two distinct social constructs and have no bearing on each other. These “purist” views tend to be voiced to a greater extent by the rugby community as opposed to the political figures in South Africa. The frustrations that rugby fans and officials feel when politicians encroach on matters seemingly beyond their area of expertise are understandable. However, given the nature of the history of rugby in South Africa it is impossible to detach the sport from its political and socioeconomic consequences.
One cannot deny the extent to which politics has shaped the nature of South African rugby, thus it is illogical and injudicious to try to ignore its socioeconomic implications. Beyond the Scrum aims to discuss South African rugby in the context of its politically and socioeconomically dynamic environment to provide sound perspective of both the history and the future of rugby in South Africa.