Springboks: Last flight of the Afrikaner

By Alfonz Cavalier

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you probably don’t care about rugby. After all, the publication is called ‘The American Sun’, and Americans haven’t really been noted for their prowess in Rugby Football since roughly the 1880s.

More than that, however, there is a tendency in these circles to dismiss ‘sportsball’ as frivolous, unserious, blue-pilled. At some point in the 20th century, team sport went from being a social activity, a testing ground for masculinity, and an excuse to impress women and drink with your buddies, into a consumer product. An interest in spectator sports nowadays suggests soy fat and a depressing lack of perspective, a sort of spiritual death.

If you’re reading this, however, you probably do have an interest in South Africa. You will know what South Africa represents, both to our circles and to globalist propaganda. You will have the images seared into your brain, President de Klerk sheepishly holding Nelson Mandela’s arm aloft, Robben Island, signs saying ‘Whites only’ in English and Afrikaans, police with rhino whips, burning townships, burning tyres, murdered farm kids. To the elite, South Africa is an ideological touchstone, one of their great triumphs. To most of us out here, it’s a canary in the coal mine that’s fallen off its perch, lost most of its feathers, and is currently gasping for air, chirping its last.

I do know a bit about rugby. My father is Welsh, so I played it growing up. I was on my school team and at one point served as Vice Captain and leader of the pack. That meant nothing, this being a comprehensive school in England where representative sports meant nothing to all but those who played them, but I know the oval ball game, the ruffian’s sport played by gentlemen.

I also know what it means to South Africans, specifically white South Africans. For, while the black majority in South Africa are – predictably – devotees of the other football, soccer, rugby has long been a cornerstone of white and, especially, Afrikaner identity in the country. The Springboks, their team, their paladins in deep green and gold with leaping antelope stitched to their breasts, are their heroes, their ambassadors.

Rugby perfectly captures the Afrikaner spirit. It is violent and physical, a test of manhood much in the way that downing an elephant or seeing off an Impi of Zulus once was. It is dynamic and creative, flowing more than American football with its constant resets for plays. When a player is tackled in rugby, the play doesn’t stop, it descends into a barely ordered chaos, with men scrapping for the ball, kicking it high into the air, or whipping it out fast for their team mates to run into space. The lack of stoppage makes it less immediately spectacular than American football, but a greater test of endurance.

The choreographed, high impact circus of American Football, like basketball, suits Africans perfectly – they are able to showcase their impressive but unfocused natural athleticism. Rugby however, is a different sort of trial. A rugby player has to save himself, commit to the hits he can make, rely on his teammates and draw on wells of core strength to stay competitive. This tempo is perfectly suited to the Afrikaner breed: a nation of big, strong, independent-spirited hunters and farm boys, the militia men in wide-brimmed hats who humiliated the greatest empire in the world twice and tamed the Savannah for western civilization. Rugby is their game, and they are proud of it.

South Africa has produced some of the greatest players in the history of rugby: Hennie Muller, Frik du Preez, Naas Botha, Danie Gerber, Andre Joubert, Joost van der Westhuiyzen, Os du Randt, Ruben Kruger, Victor Matfield, Peter-Steph du Toit. You will note the names: that unique mix of Dutch, German and French that makes up the Afrikaners. They are also three times world champions, having lifted the rugby world cup in 1995, 2007 and last November, in 2019. Had it not been for a decades-long ban from official international competition – a slap on the wrist for the Apartheid policies – and they might have won more.

In 1995, a few years after readmission to the sporting and political mainstream, South Africa hosted the rugby world cup in one of the greatest victories for globohomo propaganda. Mandela had recently been elected president, the world economy was doing well, the Cold War was over – you know the clichés of the 90s. The Africa National Congress had won. They had stormed to victory in the 1994 elections, the first in which black Africans were allowed to vote. They had the power to do whatever they wanted, and certain radical factions within the ANC wanted revenge. They wanted property seizures, summary executions, mass incarcerations. They wanted to make the white population suffer, and one of the symbolic ways they thought to do this was by abolishing the Springboks.

Mandela had already taken South Africa’s flag and replaced it with a strange, implicitly African banner, with horizontal stripes converging as a sort of side-on triangle in almost rainbow colors. He changed the anthem, turning an ANC political chant into one of the official national anthems of the country. Many of his supporters wanted to take the Springboks away as well, force the Afrikaners to play their game in African colors, under an African name, with a new symbol and identity.

This was the fate imposed on the national cricket team: renamed ‘the Proteas’ and given a new badge and colour. The soccer team were given an even more African overhaul, unofficially named ‘Bafana Bafana’ – a Zulu slang term, meaning ‘The Boys, the Boys.’ However, with the Springboks, Mandela opted for the appearance of magnanimity. He let them keep their colors, their badge, their identity. He even appeared at the 1995 final, when the Springboks beat their only real rivals in the world rugby hierarchy, New Zealand, wearing a Springbok jersey and cap, shaking hands with and embracing the blonde Afrikaner captain, Francois Pienaar. To white South Africa, this signaled continuity, tolerance. They did not have to fear their new communist president, who had been jailed for organizing terrorist attacks and who had stirred up a formerly peaceful black population against them. Mandela understood their culture and concerns and was going to let them continue as before- that was the message.  

Twenty five years later and this gesture looks as hollow as it really was. The South African economy is collapsing, the Rand has plummeted in value, formerly successful companies like Eskom and South African Airlines are on their knees and talented, qualified people, most of them white, are leaving in droves for Europe, America and Australia. The political situation is a basket case. Until recently, South Africa had a Zulu President who deliberately inflicted a drought on the city of Cape Town and used to appear at rallies singing a song called ‘Bring Me my Machine Gun’. Now it has a man, Cyril Ramaphosa, who is on record for having stated in the ‘90s that the expulsion of whites from South Africa was the long term objective of ANC policy. The party is unchallenged in South African elections, and now talks openly about land seizures and property confiscations. Corruption is let loose, violent firebrands like Julius Malema are allowed to preach virtual genocide against not only the white, but also the Asian minority with impunity. South African blacks attack black immigrants from other countries in Africa. Farm murders of Afrikaners in rural communities escalate with the tacit approval of the government, mostly ignored by the international media.

For some time after the end of Apartheid, South African affairs didn’t shift catastrophically. The ANC held office, but not total institutional or economic power. There were some violent reprisals against whites, but these were isolated and unofficial. What are a few raped Boer women, or grandfathers executed by having a flaming tyre thrown around their neck, next to the hopes of the rainbow nation, the brave new dawn of justice and harmony? Things were normal enough in South Africa for the world to be convinced that all was well, that the promise of Mandela was being delivered.

This particular narrative is becoming impossible to sustain. Talk to any leftoid or normie, however gently, about the facts of how South Africa is faring post-Mandela, and they will shrug, or stick their fingers in their ears. To them, the history of the country ended in 1994. It’s all rainbow celebrations and symbolic victories from hereon in. They don’t want to hear about ethnic conflict, economic decline, infrastructural decay, mass emigration and enmity between different African groups. It doesn’t fit the narrative and the narrative has established South Africa as one of its central parables.

The first South African rugby team to win the World Cup was made up of fourteen whites and one black man, the winger, Chester Williams. Williams was a decent player, if an unexceptional one, he had pace and could kick the ball well but there were equal or better candidates for the number eleven jersey in South African provincial rugby. He owed his place in the team to Mandela’s search for optics: the first black president pressed Morne du Plessis, the coach, to include Williams in the side, just as he bussed black ANC supporters and activists to the final in Johannesburg to sit in front of the overwhelmingly white home crowd, swaying to African rhythms and waving the new flag of the rainbow nation.

The team that won in 2007 was more diverse, but only slightly. It had the highly gifted Cape Coloured winger Bryan Habana and the slightly less impressive JP Pietersen on its wings. Both were non-whites who had learned the game in majority white schools, spoke English as a first language and were culturally Afrikaner to all intents and purposes. The backbone of the team was made up of grizzled Boer forwards like John Smit, Os du Randt and Bakkies Botha, and a few dashing blonde poster boys: Percy Montgomery, Schalk Burger and Jean de Villiers. They overcame England in the final to lift the Webb Ellis trophy, a huge symbolic victory for any Afrikaner, defeating the old imperial overlords, the nation that had dissolved the independent Boer republics, plundered their mineral wealth and confined their women and children to concentration camps to pacify the High Veld in the 1900s.

In another time, the English had respected the South Africans enough to erect a statue of one of their leaders, Jan Smuts, in Parliament Square, the symbolic heart of the British government in London, alongside statues of Winston Churchill, Lord Palmerston, William Gladstone and Oliver Cromwell. That Smuts, a general, statesman and respected academic philosopher rated by his Cambridge dons as one of the most intelligent men they’d ever met, now shares the square with Mandela, Ghandi, and the women’s suffrage campaigner Millicent Fawcett, would be an irony he would have appreciated, if only grimly. That the statue exists at all is a sign of how South Africa was regarded as recently as the mid-20th century: it was set to become another of the great settler nations, an outpost of western civilization turned global power, like the United States. That it did not do so is explicable, but also an unexpected tragedy, a product of the west’s post-war ideological turn.

The South African who lifted the rugby world cup on the 1st November 2019 was a Xhosa, Siya Kolisi. He was the first black man to captain South Africa. He is a good player but not a great one, his presence in the team is earned, but if it were not for politics, he would probably be a substitute for the Afrikaner back row forward, Francois Louw. The current coach of the Springboks, Johannes ‘Rassie’ Erasmus, is white, but he knows the political climate he is operating in. He has seen what has happened to the South African cricket team, which has had ethnic quotas forced upon it and has deteriorated as a result, with talented white players of both Anglo and Afrikaner heritage moving abroad to ply their trade in England, Australia and New Zealand where their race won’t impede their careers and they can sleep at night without steel bars on every door and window. So, to protect the brand of the mighty Springboks, Erasmus plays optics, just as Mandela did in 1995. He lets the black players take the field first, encourages the white players to sing the African anthem, the slogans of a communist black nationalist party, and allowed a slightly sub-standard black player to lift the world cup. This is the reality of all areas of life, even sport, in modern South Africa.

Kolisi lifted the trophy on behalf of a nation experiencing widespread power cuts and water shortages, a currency in free-fall, industry collapsing and ethnic conflict reaching a fever pitch. When asked by a British journalist what it meant to see a black South African leading the team to victory, the white fly half Handre Pollard did not respond with the usual platitudes about the ‘rainbow nation’, but simply said ‘you have to be South African to understand what this means.’ Some have taken this as a coded reference to the real reasons behind the country’s decline, evidence that Pollard is, so to speak, ‘our guy.’

In a setting full of symbolism, one symbol had been deliberately relegated on the day of the 2019 rugby world cup final. The Springbok logo, the prancing gazelle, which had adorned the breasts of South African players since before the First World War and which has symbolized white and especially Afrikaner pride for generations, was relegated to the players’ left sleeves. In its place was a protea, a flower native to southern Africa, which has been adopted by the ANC and imposed on all of the country’s sports teams since the end of Apartheid. The rugby team’s Springbok was left alone for the best part of three decades to bound proudly over the Savannah. Revanchist African nationalism has almost killed it, as it has almost killed South Africa as we know it.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Michael Roach says:

    I went to a Springboks vs Australia game when I was in ZA during B-School. I know we all love the “last stand of implicit white identity” meme but Springboks rugby really is it. What’s funny is every group of Afrikaners seemed to have a token Black/Cape-Coloured friend or girlfriend.

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  2. MikeRusade says:

    It’s bittersweet seeing these people move to other countries like Australia. There, the children of these austere, nigh-autistic Bush Dutch grow up amongst their laidback white peers in a country which is quickly slipping into self-segregated ethnic enclaves much like the one their parents left. The average South African, “saffers” as we call them, doesn’t like to talk about race, they would rather just not have anything to do with it, but still many would put the worst Anglo “fuck off we’re full” bogan to shame. Those who move to the country areas keep to their saffer communities, retain their dances and hunting stories around the braai, and build a little white Africa in the outback. In the city, they very quickly get prestigious positions due to their extreme work ethic. It’s nice to have them around, fellow colonials who understand things about other humans that our comfortable northern cousins are just starting to get, but Australia doesn’t become more Australian by their presence, and South Africa, like Rhodesia, slowly passes into memory as they are absorbed by us.

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    1. Alfonz Cavalier says:

      Really interesting comment, thanks. We also call them ‘Saffers’ here in London where there are comparable ethnic enclaves, albeit more of urban, Anglo, liberal-leaning South African professionals in places like Clapham. Most of these are still on the hard right by London standards, but yeah, the pattern of settlement is as you describe, not so much augmenting white British society as sticking to their own foreign folkways. There are pubs in south London where they serve Billtong, ice cold Castle Lager, and even have signage in Afrikaans.

      Ethnically, Anglos and Afrikaners aren’t that distinct. What sets them apart is Calvinism and the experience of living as an embattled minority in a foreign land. Australians have barely faced resistance from the Aboriginals for at least 150 years, but for Afrikaners, dealing with hostile natives is baked into the pie. That shapes attitudes quite a lot I guess – for an Afrikaner, meh based rhetoric on immigration etc probably seems like hollow posturing.

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