1921: Rugby, Race & Empire - Mike Munro

1921: Rugby, Race & Empire - Mike Munro

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In the winter of 1921 a Springboks rugby team toured New Zealand for the first time, captivating the country. An all-white team of mostly Afrikaners, they came cloaked in a powerful mystique – blue-eyed, “youthful giants” from a fellow British colony. Twenty-three of the team had served in the just-ended Great War. Wherever they went the Springboks were saluted as “sons of Empire.” But the tour was rocked amid claims the Springboks resented having to play a Maori team, as the race issue that would bedevil New Zealand-South Africa rugby relations for seventy years reared its head.

Two terrible events backdropped the Springboks visit: the 1914-18 war and the influenza epidemic. Together they’d taken nearly 30,000 New Zealanders’ lives, and the effects of both calamities were still being felt. To compound the gloom, the economy nose-dived and many soldier-settlers were forced from their recently-acquired land. This book casts back one hundred years to bring together the story of an eagerly-anticipated rugby tour, and the troublesome memories of its time



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