Though the cease-fire was temporary, it demonstrated the already enormous passion for rugby in South Africa.
On July 30, 1891, South Africa played its first test match against a touring British Isles team financed by Cape Colony Prime Minister Cecil Rhodes. As South Africa was new to the game, the British Isles team won the twenty matches.
After their losses to the British Isles team in the late 1890s, the South African team surpassed their own expectations when the visitors returned in 1903. South Africa would go on to win all of their series until 1956.
The 1906 match between Scotland and South Africa was South Africa’s first official international rugby tour. It was also the tour in which the Springbok nickname was coined.
Although South Africa was one of the leading rugby nations in the world, the sporting boycotts effectively isolated South Africa from participating in the first two Rugby World Cup tournaments in 1987 and 1991. The Springboks famously made their World Cup debut in 1995, when South Africa hosted the tournament.
Since 1921, the Springboks have played the New Zealand All Blacks 89 times. South Africa made a comeback in 2014, when they ended New Zealand’s 22-match winning streak with a 27-25 victory in Johannesburg.
Percy Montgomery was the first Springbok to play in over 100 tests for South Africa. Since 2008, Bryan Habana, Victor Matfield, Jean de Villiers, and John Smit have all played in more than 100 tests for the Springboks.
While five former Springboks have been welcomed into the International Rugby Hall of Fame (Hennie Muller, Morné du Plessis, Naas Botha, Danie Gerber, and Joost van der Westhuizen), two are members of the IRB Hall of Fame (Barry “Fairy” Heatlie and John Smit), and four are members of both (Bennie Osler, Danie Craven, Frik du Preez, and Francois Pienaar).
The Springboks persisted with this dance, which was performed before major matches, until 1928.