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TOO GOOD FOR THEIR OWN GOOD
March 06, 1961
South Africa's Springboks brought their traveling Rugby road show to the British Isles and France, flattened the opposition and left behind a seething controversy. 'They are killing Rugby,' hollered the British Press. 'They are persecuting blacks,' hollered others. The immediate crime: winning
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March 06, 1961

Too Good For Their Own Good

South Africa's Springboks brought their traveling Rugby road show to the British Isles and France, flattened the opposition and left behind a seething controversy. 'They are killing Rugby,' hollered the British Press. 'They are persecuting blacks,' hollered others. The immediate crime: winning

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Trouble with the Springboks, yelped the British, was that they took all the sport out of Rugby by playing a conservative, close-to-the-ground game (as above) in the strict interests of victory. There is much more to Rugby than winning, British critics pointed out; it is a gentlemen's game and should be played with verve and dash. Minus these apparently unnecessary ingredients, the Springboks played 29 straight games in the British Isles before losing.

The Springboks buttoned up their lips whenever the South African apartheid policy of total segregation was raised, thus succeeded in holding demonstrations like this (in Ireland) to a minimum. Some Laborites boycotted the Afrikaners at a few social events, but even this ended when the Springboks played at Swansea and went out of their way to congratulate the Negro referee on his calls. After that the emphasis, once more, was on Rugby.

The ball is in the air, as agonized faces attest, and when it comes down the South Africans and the Frenchmen will begin the clawing and pounding that characterize the padless mayhem of Rugby. The all-France team was unperturbed by the Springboks' advance billing, outmaneuvered them and came away with a 0-0 tie. Mused Springbok star Avril Malan: "Most clever."

A South African tumbles hard to the turf (left) in the final game of international tour, played against a team of French all-stars in Paris.

French spectators called the Springboks "les Rugby men du Diable" because of their hard tackling (right) and their clean-but-rough style.

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