8 Fun SA rugby facts

2015-09-18 18:30 - Selene Brophy
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Cape Town - You cannot call yourself the ultimate Springbok supporter until you've visited the Springbok Experience Rugby Museum, in the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town.

But before you go sighing, thinking the last place you'd want head to is a museum, let alone one about sport - it has to be said that this place this really is something different.

And not just for sports' enthusiasts. There is a wealth of memorabilia and SA rugby artefacts, just shy of incredible, that will give all South Africans a richer understanding of just how deep our rugby roots really run.

At least that's what I found during a recent visit as part of a Newmark Media trip showcasing top things to do in and around Cape Town. 

READ: 7 Delightful ways for locals to spoil themselves in Cape Town

We spent a good hour there and barely touched the surface of all there is to absorb. From the interactive try-outs for the team (this is big fun, so prepare to work up a sweat) to the detailed history of the game rooted back to the 1860s. 

Young or old, whatever your culture or creed, get in touch with your Green genes by paying this place a visit. 

READ: Traveller24's RWC guide for the ultimate Bok supporter

Here are 8 things of interest that caught my eye - but believe me there is lots more.  1. First games of 'rugby' played out in Cape Town

The SA Rugby experience showcases one of the first known records of Rugby being played in South Africa. An oil painting dating back to the 1880s by German artist turned local tobacconist Otto Landsberg shows a game of Rugby being played at what is now known as Rondebosch Common in Cape Town.

2. There are all manner of Rugby cup memorabilia

From the first South African Rugby Board Challenge Cup, dating back to 1889 - awarded each year to the winner of the inter-provincial competition run by the board to the likes of the Hamilton, Currie and Rhodes Cups. You can see them all here.


3. Find all the local Rugby legends there

Homage is paid to a number of Rugby legends such as Canon George Ogilvie who is widely credited with introducing the game of football to South Africa, to the likes of Paul Roos, considered to be one of the most powerful and influential forwards in the game.

4. Danie Craven and his dog Bliksem

Known as 'Mister Rugby', Danie Craven debuted for the Springboks in 1931 and following a lifelong devotion to the game of rugby he became president of the SA Rugby Board and later the South African Rugby Football Union until his death in 1993. But in addition to his love of the game he was never without his lifelong loyal friend, his dog Bliksem (a mild Afrikaans swear word), so much so that Bliksem served as Craven's best man during his second marriage and is commemorated at the museum as well.

5. Strange looking mascots

Did you know in 1914 the Transvaal rugby team had a porcelain doll as its mascot for their Currie Cup competition and the more than 100-year-old doll, decorated with signatures of all the players at time, adds an interesting but creepy touch to the experience.

6A time of struggle.... 'And the eyes of the world are watching now!'

There is even a section dedicated to the apartheid period between 1969 and 1992. During this time South Africa could not send players abroad or receive foreign teams without active demonstrations against the regime of the time and its racial segregation of sport.

The display includes 'weapons‘ used to disrupt sporting events such as a 'tennis bomb', filled with crushed glass that would be thrown onto the fields as a form of sabotage. Matches were played in secret', others solicited massive outcries such as the Book of the Unwelcomed signed by some 3 700 New Zealanders in 1981, requesting that the Springboks return home during a tournament visit.

7. The evolution of the Springbok rugby kit

The items covering this are broadly documented from the introduction of the caps to the original jerseys (actually on display) dating back more than a century to 1904; Interesting details are brought to life in an interactive display and you can even catch a glimpse of the boots worn by Joel Stransky when he delivered the most famous kick in South African rugby history in the 1995 Rugby World Cup final.

8. Next time your team loses, consider the Rugby code of conduct which reads...

"May the true spirit of the sport reign over all our affairs and always act as our only guiding star in troubled waters that we shall be worthy gentlemen as part of the brotherhood of Rugby Football."

Go Bokke!

As South Africa prepares for its first game of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, check out Traveller24's RWC guide for the Ultimate Bok Supporter.

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Disclaimer: Traveller24 Editor Selene Brophy was hosted by Newmark Hotels for the Cape Town media trip experience which included accommodation, all meals and activities.