‘Stop the Springboks’

Posted by War On Want

Rugby and cricket were the biggest sports played by whites in sports-mad South Africa.  South Africa’s all-white rugby board had close links with the British rugby establishment. From the mid-1970s international teams included token black players, but sport within South Africa was strictly segregated.

In Britain the turning point came in 1969–70. The AAM and Stop the Seventy Tour (STST) organised demonstrations and direct action at every match played by the Springbok rugby team on its 23-game tour of Britain. Below are just a few examples.

5th November, 1969:

The South African Springbok rugby team played Oxford University in the first game of their 1969/70 tour of Britain and Ireland. The game was moved from Oxford to Twickenham after the police found out about plans to disrupt the game. Throughout the match demonstrators taunted the players with Nazi salutes and chanted ‘Sieg Heil’. This photograph shows Peter Hain being carried out of the ground.


8th November, 1969:

Demonstrators tried to break through a police cordon around Welford Road rugby ground in Leicester before the game between the Springboks and Midland Counties East. Two people were wounded in clashes between the police and protestors. Thousands joined a march to the ground before the match.


11th November, 1969:

Anti-apartheid members handed out leaflets outside Cardiff Arms Park on 11 November 1969 asking rugby supporters to boycott the Springboks rugby tour. The Springboks were scheduled to play Newport next day.


15th November, 1969:

Stewards dragging a protester off the pitch at the Springboks v Swansea rugby match at St Helen’s ground. Police turned a blind eye while stewards assaulted demonstrators and many were badly injured.


20th November, 1969:

An anti-apartheid protestor chained himself to the steering wheel of the bus bringing the Springbok rugby team to Twickenham for their international against England. He was removed from the bus by the driver and a policeman, the chain still attached to his wrist.


22nd November, 1969:

Police lined the pitch at Twickenham at the Springboks game against London Counties.


26th November, 1969:

More than 7,000 people took part in a march to protest against the South African rugby Springboks game against Northern Counties. Many of the marchers were students from Manchester and Liverpool Universities. This poster was produced by Manchester students. Around 2,000 police were deployed to stop protesters running onto the pitch.


6th December, 1969:

Police carry a demonstrator off the pitch at the Springboks v Scotland rugby match at Murrayfield.


13th December, 1969:

Anti-apartheid supporters marched from Cardiff’s docks area of Bute Town to protest at the Springboks v Cardiff rugby match. On the way to the ground they joined up with marchers from Cardiff City Centre.


20th December, 1969

Stop the Seventy Tour (STST) supporters blocked the coach taking the Springbok rugby team to Twickenham for their international against England. Earlier the team returned to their hotel after a protester chained himself to the steering wheel


24th January, 1970:

Masked anti-apartheid supporters protest before the Springboks v Wales game in Cardiff.


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