Captain diplomacy: Paul Roos and the creation of South Africa's rugby springboks

06 Jul 2016

The iconic Springboks are not only synonymous with South African rugby but with South African national identity as a whole. Based on research gathered within South Africa over the past decade, this paper explores the creation of the Springbok identity with particular focus on the historic 1906 rugby tour to Britain and France - the first by a South African team overseas. Set against the backdrop of political instability and racial tension within South Africa, the tour took place only four years after the end of the Anglo-Boer War and was used as an opportunity to unify the divided nation. This paper will explore the role of Paul Roos, captain of the 1906 side, on this tour and the iconic status that this Afrikaans schoolteacher has since achieved within South African rugby folklore.