Tours of Reconciliation: Rugby, War and Reconstruction in South Africa, 1891-1907.

06 Jul 2016

Former South African Rugby Board President A.J. ('Sport') Pienaar once reflected that rugby football was the 'greatest cementing influence between the Afrikaans and English-speaking sections in the country'. 1 Indeed, when Mark Morrison brought the British Isles team to South Africa in 1903, it was, according to rugby historian Paul Dobson, as 'a tour of reconciliation'. This was, he added, 'rugby's contribution to healing the sad and painful wounds of the Anglo-Boer War'. 2 This article will explore the significance of the early pioneering tours as well as the nature of Anglo-Boer relations leading up to the South African War of 1899-1902. Significantly, the post-war tours of 1903 and 1906, the year of the first oversees rugby Springboks, will be examined as early examples of sport being used in South Africa to reconcile a divided society.