File image of rugby balls on the field in a stadium.
JOHANNESBURG – Siya Kolisi may have become the first black Springbok captain only in 2018, the history of black rugby in this country is rich and extends back to the late 1800’s.
South African Rugby wants to highlight this by means of a digital installation at the Rugby Museum as well as a publication. SA Rugby has embarked on a project to produce a comprehensive encyclopaedia of black rugby in South Africa.
It’s a huge job to piece together the histories of the various racially segregated rugby organisations that governed the game in the apartheid-era and even looking at the pioneers who picked up the oval ball in the colonial era.
Work on this massive project started in 2012.
“The current project with the working title of an A to Z of Black Rugby, is a long-standing project,” said Dr Hendrik Snyders Manager of the South African Heritage.
“In terms of SA Rugby’s undertaking of its transformation charter, in 2006 already, that it is our duty to promote an in-depth appreciation of the history of black rugby. One of the major challenges of giving a fact to that was the fact that we do not have a consolidated archive that tells the story of the history.”
The National Lotteries Commission has come on board to fund the project with finances being a major stumbling block.
“Of course financial challenges always is the key factor. In order to retrace sources of information, you need to be able to travel, you need to be able to reproduce images, you need to pay for research and because some of the visual materials are copyrighted, so you can imagine what it costs you to source active information beyond extracting information from oral resources.”
SA Rugby is appealing for help and participation in this project from former players and administrators, especially to be forthcoming with information.
“You must remember we talk about more than a century of rugby activity in the black community. If I need to outline that genealogy our rugby, it means administrators and players that used to play their rugby under the South African Coloured Rugby Football Board, under the South African Bantu Rugby Board, under the auspices of the South African African Rugby Football Board, under the South African Rugby Football Federation, under the South African Rugby Union and under the South African Rugby Association,” Snyders said.
The project is two-fold.
According to Snyders the first one is to install a digital touchscreen with filters that would allow any person that comes in and want to look up any national player, any of the national bodies, to access that with the touch of a screen.
The second objective would be to compile sufficient information to be able to actually compile it together into a publication so that in addition to the digital installation, or display, one may also be able to publish a book that would contain literally an A to Z of black rugby.
The culmination of the project will be on Heritage Day with the opening of the new installation at the Springbok Experience Rugby Museum.