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South African Sport



Travel Information

Sports in South Africa have a passionate following, although they remain largely divided along ethnic lines.Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in South Africa, particularly amongst blacks who constitute the majority of the population. The national football team is nicknamed Bafana Bafana (meaning the boys, the boys). South Africa hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the first one hosted in Africa.Cricket is the second most popular sport in South Africa, and is traditionally the sport of the Anglo-African and Indian South African communities, although it is now followed by members of all races. The national cricket team is nicknamed The Proteas.


Rugby union is also very popular, especially among persons of Afrikaner descent. The national rugby union team, The Springboks, have enjoyed considerable success since the early 20th Century, including two Rugby World Cup victories in 1995 & 2007.Other popular sports include: boxing, hockey, tennis, golf, surfing, netball and running.South Africa was absent from international sport for most of the apartheid era due to sanctions, but started competing globally after the country's white electorate voted in a referendum in favour of a negotiated settlement of the apartheid question. The South African government and SASCOC have been striving to improve  incrementally  the participation of the previously excluded majority in competitive sports (i.e. Blacks in rugby and Whites in association football), but so far with limited success, due to resistance on part of numerous federations.


Rugby union, often referred to simply as rugby
, is a full contact team sport which originated in England in the early 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand. It is played with an oval-shaped ball with dimensions of 28–30 centimetres (11–12 in) in length, circumference over length of 74–77 centimetres (29–30 in) and circumference over width of 58–62 centimetres (23–24 in). It is played on a field up to 100 metres (330 ft) long and 70 metres (230 ft) wide with H-shaped goal posts on each goal line.William Webb Ellis is often credited with the invention of running with the ball in hand in 1823 at Rugby School when he allegedly caught the ball while playing football and ran towards the opposition goal. However, the evidence for the story is doubtful. In 1845, the first football laws were written by Rugby School pupils; other significant events in the early development of rugby include the Blackheath Club's decision to leave the Football Association in 1863 and the split between rugby union and rugby league in 1895. Historically an amateur sport, in 1995 the International Rugby Board (IRB) removed restrictions on payments to players, making the game openly professional at the highest level for the first time.

The IRB has been the governing body for rugby union since its formation in 1886. Rugby union spread from the Home Nations of Great Britain and Ireland, and was absorbed by many of the countries associated with the British Empire. Early exponents of the sport included Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Countries that have adopted rugby union as their de facto national sport include Fiji, Georgia, New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga and Wales. Rugby union is played in over 100 countries across six continents and as of 27 November 2012, the IRB has 100 full members and 18 associate members.The Rugby World Cup, first held in 1987, takes place every four years, with the winner of the tournament receiving the Webb Ellis Cup. The Six Nations Championship in Europe and The Rugby Championship in the Southern Hemisphere (the latter replacing the Tri Nations) are major international competitions held annually. Major domestic competitions include the Top 14 in France, the English Premiership in England, the Currie Cup in South Africa, and the ITM Cup in New Zealand. Other transnational competitions include the Pro 12, involving Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh teams; and the Heineken Cup, involving the top European teams from their respective domestic competitions.


The South Africa national rugby union team (known as the Springboks) represents South Africa in rugby union. They compete in the annual Rugby Championship, along with southern-hemisphere counterparts Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. They have won this championship on three occasions in sixteen years. They are currently ranked second in the world by the International Rugby Board, and were named 2008 World Team of the Year at the Laureus World Sports Awards.


Although South Africa was instrumental in the creation of the Rugby World Cup competition, the Springboks did not compete in the first two World Cups in 1987 and 1991 because of anti-apartheid sporting boycotts of South Africa. The team made its World Cup debut in 1995, when the newly democratic South Africa hosted the tournament. The Springboks then defeated the All Blacks 15–12 in the final, which is now remembered as one of the greatest moments in South Africa's sporting history, and a watershed moment in the post-Apartheid nation-building process. South Africa regained their title as champions 12 years later, when they defeated England 15–6 in the 2007 final. As a result of the 2007 World Cup tournament the Springboks were promoted to first place in the IRB World Rankings, a position they held until July the following year when New Zealand regained the top spot.


The Springboks play in green and gold jerseys, and their emblems are the Springbok and the Protea. The side has been playing international rugby since 1891, when a British Isles side toured the nation, playing South Africa in their first Test on 30 July. South Africa was coached by Jake White, who led the Boks to the 2007 World Cup title, announcing his resignation effectively from the end of 2007. His replacement's (Peter de Villiers) contract expired in 2011, following a 11–9 defeat to Australia in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final, who then stated he would not be signing a new deal. The previous captain was John Smit, who before he retired in 2011 played hooker for most of his career, although he has also been a prop, mainly in 2008 and 2009. Due to Smit being unavailable for the November 2010 Tests after surgery, lock Victor Matfield took Smit's place as captain for that tour. The current captain is Jean de Villiers.


South Africa was banned from the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo due to the apartheid policies. This ban effectively lasted until 1992. During this time, some sports people (like Zola Budd and Kepler Wessels) left for other countries in order to compete internationally. Some athletes continued their sports careers in South Africa in isolation, with some stars like women's 400 metres runner Myrtle Bothma running a world record time at the South African championships.Some sports teams toured South Africa as "Rebel Tours" and played the Springbok rugby and Proteas cricket teams in South Africa during the isolation period.In 1977, Commonwealth Presidents and Prime Ministers agreed, as part of their support for the international campaign against apartheid, to discourage contact and competition between their sportsmen and sporting organisations, teams or individuals from South Africa.


Cricket is the second most popular sport in South Africa. It is popular among English-speaking whites. It is the only sport in South Africa to feature in the top two sports of all race groups. The national team is known as the Proteas.South Africa is one of the leading cricket-playing nations in the world and one of ten countries that is sanctioned to play test cricket. Cricket was traditionally popular among English-speaking whites and the Asian community, though the latter were not able to compete in top-level South African cricket in the apartheid era. Since the end of the apartheid era, a higher proportion of white players have come from Afrikaans-speaking backgrounds, and attempts have been made to increase the number of non-white players, in part through a quota system. The current national team features prominent non-white players, such as Ashwell Prince, Hashim Amla (the first Muslim to play for South Africa), Herschelle Gibbs, Monde Zondeki, Loots Bosman, Charl Langeveldt, and Makhaya Ntini. Afrikaners in the team include AB de Villiers, Albie Morkel, Morné Morkel, Johan Botha and Dale Steyn.


The team has had success with batsmen like Herschelle Gibbs, who is one of the sport's most dominating batsmen, all-rounders like Jacques Kallis and Shaun Pollock, the former being one of the greatest all rounders of the game, and bowlers such as Makhaya Ntini, who reached number two in the ICC Player Rankings in 2006. Dale Steyn is currently ranked as one of the best test bowlers, and captain Graeme Smith is one of the most dominant left-handed batsmen in world cricket today. Wicketkeeper Mark Boucher has the world record for the most number of dismissals for a wicketkeeper and continues playing for the team. Kevin Pietersen, who is white, left the country claiming that he was put at a disadvantage by positive discrimination, and within a few years became one of the world's top batsmen, playing for England. South Africa is one of the strongest teams and in 2006, in Johannesburg in what was the highest scoring 50 over ODI ever, South Africa led by Gibbs' 175 chased down Australia's mammoth and then world record score of 434–4. South Africa hosted the 2003 Cricket World Cup an event that was disappointing to them as they lost against Sri Lanka in what happened to be in a farcical situation and were eliminated on home soil. In the 2007 Cricket World Cup, South Africa reached the semi-finals of the event but lost to Australia.


Golf in South Africa has a long and illustrious history and South Africa is one of the great golfing nations. Golf is easily the best individual sports event that South Africans participate in, with the quantity and quality of South African players being of the top order.The first South African to win a major championship was Bobby Locke who won The British Open four times in 1949, 1950, 1952 and 1957.The most famous of South African golfers is however Gary Player who along with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus dominated world golf for much of the 1960s and 1970s. Player won all four majors, winning the British Open in 1959, 1968 and 1974, The Masters in 1961, 1974 and 1978, the PGA Championship in 1962 and 1972 and the U.S Open just once in 1965. Player always played in his trademark black outfits and became one of the recognisable figures in the sport. He also enjoyed considerable success in senior golf, winning six majors on the Champions Tour (then the Senior PGA Tour) from 1986 to 1990. The only other South African to have won a senior major is Simon Hobday, winner of the U.S. Senior Open in 1994.


Current players who have won majors are 1994, 1997 U.S. Open and 2002 British Open Champion Ernie Els, 2001 and 2004 U.S. Open Champion Retief Goosen, 2008 Masters Champion Trevor Immelman, British Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen and 2011 Masters Champion Charl Schwartzel. Other notable players include Tim Clark with 2 Nationwide Tour wins and winner of the PGA 2010 Players Championship.The country has had less success in women's golf. The only South African woman to have won a major was Sally Little, who won the LPGA Championship in 1980. Little later became a U.S. citizen and won a second major, the 1988 du Maurier Classic, as an American.British golfer Justin Rose is South Africa-born, but was raised from age 5 in England, and chose to play his trade for that country.


South Africa has staged Formula One Grand Prix, the last being the 1993 race at the Kyalami circuit. It has produced one Formula One world champion, Jody Schekter, who triumphed for Ferrari in 1979. South Africa was also one of the host nations for the A1 Grand Prix

There are currently 16 Super Rugby teams but only 15 of them play in the tournament annually. The Southern Kings replaced the Lions for the 2013 Super Rugby season and promotion relegation matches will be held with the last placed South African team and the Lions to decide who plays in the 2014 season.For more news on a particular team or their history click on the Team name/Link that you are interested in at the very top of every page. Once you arrive at the "Team Page" look for the History link on the right which will take you to a page with detail on where the team is from and their history.

For your convenience, we have also posted the Team links below.


 Bulls  Cheetahs  Sharks  Stormers 



Bulls Super Rugby History

The Bulls are a South African Rugby Union team competing in the Super Rugby competition. They are based in Pretoria and play their home matches at Loftus Versfeld.The team is centred around the Blue Bulls union (Pretoria plus Limpopo Province), but also draws players from the Falcons (representing the East Rand).Through 2005, the Bulls also drew players from the Pumas (Mpumalanga Province) and Leopards (North West Province), but in the realignment of franchise areas that came from the expansion of Super 12 to Super 14, these unions were moved into the franchise area af the Cats.

Prior to 1998, the Bulls competed in the then-Super 12 as the Blue Bulls. Especially outside of South Africa, it is easy to confuse the Bulls with the "Blue Bulls", also known by their sponsorship name of "Vodacom Blue Bulls".The Blue Bulls are the representative team of the Blue Bulls Rugby Union, and compete in South Africa's domestic competition, the Currie Cup. As noted above, the Bulls draw most of their players from the Blue Bulls, but can also draw from the Falcons.Their best Super 12 performance was in the inaugural year of the competition, 1996, when (as the Blue Bulls) they finished third on the table and reached the semi-finals, only to be defeated by the eventual cup winners, the Auckland Blues.They equalled this performance in 2005 when a very poor start to the season was followed by six straight wins to earn them a semi-final berth, where they were defeated by the New South Wales Waratahs.In 2006 it looked like the Bulls would not be able to match their 2005 performance but in the final week of scheduled matches the Bulls finished fourth on the table after hammering the Stormers in Cape Town.

The Bulls went on to win the 2007 Super14 tournament but slumped to 10th place in 2008. In 2009 however they bounced back and won the tournament again.

Super 15 positions

2012 .. 5th
2011 .. 7th

Super 14 positions

2009 .. 1st Champions - (beat Chiefs in final)
2008 .. 10th
2007 .. 1st Champions - (beat Sharks in final)
2006 .. 4th .. (lost semi-final to Crusaders)

Super 12 positions

(as Blue Bulls)

2005 .. 3rd .. (lost semi-final to New South Wales Waratahs)
2004 .. 6th
2003 .. 6th
2002 .. 12th
2001 .. 12th
2000 .. 11th
1999 .. 12th
1998 .. 11th
1997 .. 8th (as The Bulls)
1996 .. 4th .. (lost semi-final to Auckland Blues)




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