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Rugby Behind Barbed Wire

The 1969/70 Springboks Tour of Britain and Ireland

ISBN  9781445694108    (British Edition)

'"We spent all our time surrounded by police cordons and barbed wire, never mind having our bus hijacked..." - Tommy Bedford, Springboks No. 8.

2019 and 2020 mark the fiftieth anniversary of the controversial 1969/70 Springbok rugby tour of the British Isles - a landmark event on both a sporting and political level. Taking place during the time of South Africa’s apartheid dispensation, the tour was characterised throughout by violent demonstrations against the ‘ambassadors of apartheid.’ Scenes of chanting demonstrators at the players’ hotels and airports and protesters being dragged off the field of play by police were not uncommon. Smoke bombs and flour bombs also became a match-day fixture.These were wild and unnerving times for the players on tour, whose movements were badly inhibited, who had to play hide and seek to avoid possible violence, and in between also try to play some rugby. During a demanding tour that lasted three months and eight days and took them to and fro between England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, they had to try and sustain a proud tradition of previous highly successful Springbok tours through the Isles.Through personal interviews with the players, including team captain Dawie de Villiers, vice-captain Tommy Bedford and other senior members of the squad, as well as other key figures such as anti-apartheid campaigner Peter Hain, Rugby Behind Barbed Wire takes readers to the inner circle of a besieged group of sportsmen who just wanted to play rugby despite concerted efforts to deny them. The author also looks at the political context of events, and why so many felt that disrupting the tour was a matter of moral and political necessity. 



Crossing the White Line

The 1969/70 Springboks Tour of Britain and Ireland

ISBN 978-1-4456-9534-1

(South African Edition)

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Lions in Africa

The British & Irish Lions and the Hunt for the Springboks

ISBN 9781398108288

(British Edition)

Lions in Africa

130 Years of Rugby Rivalry 1891-2009

ISBN 978-1-991202-74-1 

(South African Edition)


In 1891 the first rugby football team from the British Isles embarked on a tour of South Africa. This tour began a tradition that survived the financial insecurities of the pioneer years, two World Wars, sports boycotts, and the birth of the professional era.

This book covers the tours from when matches were played on dusty fields and rugby players were transported in carts over poor roads in the Karoo, in coaches that broke down and on slow trains that, on occasion, caught fire. Tours between the World Wars when South Africa dominated the rugby landscape across the world. It follows the famous clashes of 1955 when, for the first time, a crowd in excess of 90 000 attended a rugby match. It deals with the all-conquering 1974 Lions led by the legendary Willie John McBride. Finally, it focuses on the two Lions tours that have visited these shores in 1997 and 2009 following the advent of full democracy and re-admittance to world rugby.  

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