Despite a rapidly changing political environment since the African National Congress (ANC) ascended to power in 1994, rugby in South Africa has by and largemaintained its particular cultural space and is regarded by the government as a predominantly white, especially Afrikaner redoubt. The game has received renewed prominence with the 2007 Springbok Rugby World Cup victory, achieved with mainly white players.
In the South African context it has been argued the prominence of white rugby on the public stage can be related to the particular power configurations which held sway over the country during the late 19th century and throughout most of the 20th century – a constellation of forces which inhibited black rugby to gain the same kind of exposure.
Political changes in the country since the 1990’s have not, however, had an appreciable effect in a re-acculturation of the game along markedly different racial lines. Of course it can be claimed that the period was too short to bring about significant change, but beyond that it is necessary to look at the changing dynamics of the game and in particular how a new variable, professionalisation, has affected the situation since 1995. The impact of professionalistion is also explored in terms of what the process meant for “ordinary” rugby clubs away from the revenue generating urban centres as well as how “player culture” changed from the amateur era.
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