South Africa

Authored by: Chris Bolsmann

Routledge Handbook of Sport, Race and Ethnicity

Print publication date:  September  2016
Online publication date:  September  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138816954
eBook ISBN: 9781315745886
Adobe ISBN: 9781317596677


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One of the most poignant and enduring images of post-apartheid South Africa is President Nelson Mandela handing the William Webb Ellis trophy to François Pienaar, captain of the victorious Springbok rugby team in the 1995 World Cup. While the image reflects an important moment in South African sporting history, popularized by the Clint Eastwood film Invictus, 1 the broader context is often omitted. Only one of the South African players in a squad of 28 was black, 2 the majority of spectators were white and the apartheid-era South African flag was visible throughout the stadium. Twenty years on, elite rugby in South Africa remains overwhelmingly white. Of the 31 players who were part of the 2015 South African rugby world cup squad, eight were black. As a result, sport in South Africa remains a contested terrain in which demands for development, transformation, and redress are central. Race and ethnicity are pivotal to interpreting this sporting landscape. In this chapter, we will consider the role of race and ethnicity in shaping South African sport over a 150-year period.

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