Siya Kolisi became South Africa’s first black rugby team captain and it took them 127 years for it to happen.
But there’s a historical reason for why it took so long for a country that’s 90% black to get to this point.
BREAKING! Siya Kolisi has been appointed to captain the Springboks in the Castle Lager Incoming Series against England next month, while Pieter-Steph du Toit will lead the side against Wales in Washington. Both men will captain the Springboks for the first time. #LoveRugby
For those who don’t know, racial separation, which eventually leads to apartheid, started way before the National Party, an all-white government, gained power in South Africa in 1948.
The 1913 Land Act, which passed three years after South Africa gained its independence, marked the begin of racial and territorial segregation within South Africa. Prior to this, feelings of separation were very strong, even within the rugby community. According to Face Face Africa, two years before in 1911, South African Coloured Football Rugby Board wanted to participate in the New Zealand Rugby Football Union (NZRFU) tour but their proposal was rejected after the all-white Rugby Union distanced themselves from the Coloured team.
The separation on and off the field continued well into the 1950s when the government provided the apartheid framework with the Population Registration Act of 1950. This act along with land acts limited active contact between races within public facilities.
With decades and decades of racial division and resistance led by anti-Apartheid activists like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, the apartheid system eventually disbanded in 1994.
But although this oppressive system ended, issues of racial discrimination and disparity continued on for both the country and the rugby team.
AshwinWillemse walk out of the #SSRugby studio on air…. https://t.co/6NlPcub0Ti
South Africa’s rugby program has constantly received criticism for their lack of and reported mistreatment of black players. The constant pushback eventually made the rugby union and government agree to have 50% of the 2019 Rugby World Cup team’s players be black.
So, if you look back in the historical timeline you will notice that Kolisi becoming the team’s first black captain is a big progressive step for South Africa. But, it is simply a step to further improve the problems within the sport and South Africa.