1971 South Africa rugby union tour of Australia

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The 1971 South Africa rugby union tour of Australia was a controversial six-week rugby union tour by the Springboks to Australia. Anti-apartheid protests came to being all around the country. The tour is perhaps most infamous for a state of emergency being declared in Queensland. In total, around 700 people were arrested whilst the Springboks were on tour.


The first games were then played in Adelaide and Perth, which were disrupted mainly by youth-led protesters. The third match was set to take place in Melbourne. A 5,000 strong crowd, made up mostly of university students, gathered in the streets of Melbourne to march on Olympic Park in protest.[1] Police had set up a wall of units around the stadium, around 650 policemen many armed with batons and some on horseback.[1] In Sydney, several people, including the Secretary of the New South Wales Builders Labourers Federation, attempted to saw down the goal posts at the Sydney Cricket Ground prior to the match.[2] In addition, a gigantic anti-apartheid effigy was hung from the Sydney Harbour Bridge but subsequently cut down.[2]

Queensland premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen declared a month-long state of emergency.[3] The game was instead played at the Exhibition Ground, being moved from its original venue at Ballymore Stadium, as it was deemed easier to erect barricades at the Exhibition Ground.[4] A two-metre chain wire fence was erected to separate players and spectators.[5]

According to Meredith Burgmann and Peter McGregor, both leading firebrands, the rugby tour was a crucial target, but to stop the summer's cricketing visit was the ultimate goal.[6][7] They were successful in this regard as the cricket tour was called off due to security reasons.


Scores and results list South Africa's points tally first.[8]

Opposing Team For Against Date Venue Status
Western Australia 44 18 26 Jun 1971 Perth Tour match
South Australia 43 0 30 Jun 1971 Adelaide Tour match
Victoria 50 0 3 July 1971 Melbourne Tour match
Sydney 21 12 7 July 1971 Sydney Tour match
New South Wales 25 3 10 July 1971 Sydney Tour match
New South Wales Country 19 3 14 July 1971 Orange Tour match
Australia 19 11 17 July 1971 Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney Test match
Australian Capital Territory 34 3 21 July 1971 Canberra Tour match
Queensland 33 14 24 July 1971 Brisbane Tour match
Junior Wallabies 31 12 28 July 1971 Brisbane Tour match
Australia 14 6 31 Jul 1971 Exhibition Ground, Brisbane Test match
Queensland Country 45 14 4 Aug 1971 Toowoomba Tour match
Australia 18 6 7 Aug 1971 Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney Test match

Touring group[edit]

Test matches[edit]

South Africa won the Test Series 3–0

  • 17 July 1971 – Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney,South Africa 19–11 Australia

South Africa: McCallum, Nomis, Cronje, Jansen, Viljoen, Visagie, J Viljoen, Du Plessis, Ellis, Greyling, Williams, Du Preez, Marais (c), Van Wyk and Sauermann

Tries by Hannes Viljoen, Joggie Viljoen and Jan Ellis. Ian McCallum 2 conversions and penalty and Piet Visagie drop goal.

Australia Captain Greg Davis

  • 31 July 1971 – Brisbane Exhibition Ground, Brisbane, South Africa 14–6 Australia
  • 7 August 1971 – Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney. South Africa 18–6 Australia

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b [1]
  2. ^ a b [2]
  3. ^ [3]
  4. ^ [4]
  5. ^ [5]
  6. ^ Burghmann 2008.
  7. ^ James Middleton, 17 November 1993, Greenleft Weekly, the rules: the campaign in Australia against apartheid[permanent dead link], Retrieved 22 March 2015. This was an extensive interview conducted by Middleton with McGregor from the documentary Political Football, which concerned the anti-apartheid protests in Australia during the early 1970s.
  8. ^ "The 1971 Springbok tour". blogs.sport24.co.za. 24 December 2011. Archived from the original on 4 July 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 

External links[edit]