Lynne Rienner Publishers Logo

World Champions: The Story of South African Rugby

Jonty Winch
World Champions: The Story of South African Rugby
ISBN: 978-1-928246-43-5
ISBN: 978-1-928246-53-4
2022/450 pages
Distributed by Best Red, an imprint of HSRC Press
"The definitive book on the history of rugby in South Africa. From the very first match to the World Cup triumph in Tokyo, Winch explores the story of the game using deep research and passionate narrative.... For anyone interested in rugby and its place in South African life, this is essential reading." —Tony Collins, De Montfort University

"Wide-ranging, balanced, informed, and eminently readable." —Albert Grundlingh, Stellenbosch University

"The first comprehensive record of rugby in South Africa in which the black contribution and legacy is not 'ghettoised' and presented as a mere footnote of history.... This book sets the standard against which all others will be measured as historians continue to research and rewrite South Africa's sport history in order to deal with the unfinished business of the past and its meaning for the nation today." —Hendrik Snyders, National Museum, Bloemfontein


Jonty Winch traces the complicated history of South African rugby from its establishment in the Cape in 1879 through the 2019 World Cup championship. As he explores key events and questions entrenched narratives, Winch opens a compelling new window on colonialism, apartheid, and the evolution of South African society.


Jonty Winch is author of more than a dozen books on sport history in South Africa, including Cricket and Conquest: The History of South African Cricket Retold, 1795-1914.


  • Introduction.
  • "Mission Accomplished."
  • The Origins of Rugby at the Cape.
  • Rugby, Soccer, and Segregation at the Cape During the Nineteenth Century.
  • First Steps Towards International Sport.
  • "A Progressive of Progressives."
  • From Healdtown and Lovedale to the "Amadoda" of Orlando.
  • Establishing a South African Rugby Identity.
  • "Most Unfortunate Match Ever Played."
  • Rhodes, Rugby, and the Road to Springboxford, 1903-1953.
  • "Men Worthy of Springbok Chance."
  • The IRB and Interchangeable National Identities.
  • The Quest for World Rugby Supremacy.
  • "The Fight for the Control of Rugby."
  • The Black Springboks.
  • Veritable Tom Browns to Springboks.
  • Wind of Change.
  • SARU, SACOS, and Multinationalism.
  • The Last British Influence.
  • Tours of the 1980s: Politics, Protestors, and Payments.
  • "Front Runners in the Formation of the NSC."
  • The Unification of Rugby.
  • "Madiba Magic."
  • Balancing Transformation with a Winning Team.
  • Role Models for the Rainbow Nation.