The power of sport to heal old wounds is an oft-debated subject, but anyone doubting that power need only look at the recent history of South African rugby to realise just how potent a force for change this sport can be. Long may this continue.

Did you know?

There are more than 600 000 registered rugby players in South Africa.

Rugby has played an important role in uniting South Africa since democracy in 1994. The Springboks, South Africa's national rugby team, have won the Rugby World Cup twice since then and are a prominent force in world rugby.

In 1995, South Africa hosted and won the Rugby World Cup (the first time they had played in the competition). Images of president Nelson Mandela handing the trophy to Springbok captain Francois Pienaar after that win have remained iconic symbols of the new South Africa.

The importance of this period in South Africa's history was portrayed in the 2009 film, Invictus, which starred Morgan Freeman as Mandela and Matt Damon as Pienaar.

Most schoolboys in South Africa dream of playing for the Springboks one day, while many adults claim to be the best national selector! Rugby plays a huge role in defining weekend social life in South Africa, particularly when the national team is playing.

Major competitions include the regional Super Rugby (also featuring teams from New Zealand and Australia) and the domestic Currie Cup (contested by South Africa's top provincial teams). 

South Africa's largest stadium is FNB Stadium in Soweto (seats 94 000), which has hosted a Springbok match every year since 2010. Other rugby stadiums include Ellis Park (home of the Lions, based in Johannesburg); Loftus Versfeld (home of the Bulls, based in Pretoria); Newlands (home of the Stormers and Western Province, based in Cape Town); Kings Park (home of the Sharks, based in Durban); Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium (home of the Kings, based in Port Elizabeth); and Free State Stadium (home of the Cheetahs, based in Bloemfontein). 

Although a typical rugby season for schools and clubs runs from late March to early August, rugby in its different forms is played every month of the year. While January and December are considered too hot for contact rugby, beach touch-rugby tournaments are very popular during these months.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

South African Rugby Union
Tel: +27 (0)21 659 6700 

What will it cost

Tickets to professional rugby matches in South Africa range from around R70 per person for domestic and franchise matches, to around R500 for Test matches.

What to eat

Biltong (dried meat snack) is the traditional food of choice for most South African rugby fans.