“There will be a black Springbok over my dead body.”
— Dr Danie Craven, President of the South African Rugby Board, 1969
Just a year after the controversial D’Oliveira affair, the organised disruption of the all-white 1969/70 South African rugby and cricket tours to Britain represented a significant challenge to apartheid politics. Led by future cabinet minister Peter Hain, the ‘Stop the Seventy Tour’ campaign brought about the cancellation of both tours, presaging white South Africa’s expulsion from the Olympics and the end of apartheid sport altogether.With his brand of attention-grabbing, direct action sports protest, the 19-year-old Hain emerged as a hero to some and enemy to others. Now, reflecting on these experiences with fifty years of hindsight, Lord Hain, together with South Africa’s foremost sports historian and fellow anti-apartheid activist André Odendaal, shows how decades of relentless international and domestic campaigning for equality led to a Springbok team captained by black athlete Siya Kolisi winning the 2019 Rugby World Cup.Interspersing a wide range of examples with personal testimony, Pitch Battles explores the themes of sport, globalisation and resistance from the deep past to the present day. Published in the same year as the Stop The Tour documentary from acclaimed director Louis Myles, this compelling story of sacrifice, struggle and triumph reveals how sport should never be divorced from politics or society’s values.
[R]acialised sport was a central pillar of the Apartheid regime’s ideology, with the white sporting establishment and athletes — especially in rugby union and cricket — benefitting greatly from this arrangement. In Pitch Battles, anti-Apartheid activists Peter Hain and Andre Odenhaal give an account of how sport can both uphold the status quo and become a crucial site of resistance.... Sport cannot be separated from wider political struggle, and Pitch Battles is a compelling account of the way that sport was used by the Apartheid regime to launder its image internationally. But the book also documents how sport also became a crucial site of resistance to that regime, helping to bring about its downfall. This should help inspire struggles for a better world, in the face of growing capitalist inequality, COVID-19 and climate crisis.
I refused to play against the Springboks because that would have meant playing with apartheid and betraying many friends.
11/23/20: Herald LIVE published book announcement and giveaway; “Hear about racism in sport from the authors of 'Pitch Battles.'”
12/2/20: Authors participated in livestream event for World AIDs Day with Herald LIVE and Nelson Mandela University.