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The 1981 South African rugby tour (known in New Zealand as the Springbok Tour, and in South Africa as the Rebel Tour) polarised opinions and inspired widespread protests across New Zealand.

In the 1960s and 70s, many New Zealanders had come to believe that playing sport with South Africa condoned its racist apartheid system. Apartheid excluded non-white players, and therefore Maori, from touring there. This made the 1981 tour to New Zeeland among the most divisive events in New Zealand’s history.

By this time, Errol Tobias had become the first Springbok of colour, and he was included in the squad, but despite playing well there, he was excluded from the tests by the Springbok administrators on tour, who were resistant to having him as a Springbok because of his race. Ironically, Tobias was also targeted by anti-apartheid protesters, who accused him of being a sell-out and an Uncle Tom. In fact, he wasn't either. He had proved himself on the field throughout his career to that point, and been selected on merit.

Springboks - Outgoing squad

  • Jacobus Johannes Beck
  • Hendrik Johannes Bekker
  • Daniel Sarel Botha
  • Naas Botha
  • Matthys Boshoff Burger
  • Captain Wynand Claasen
  • Robert James Cockrell
  • Willem Du Plessis
  • Carel Johan Du Plessis
  • Pieter Gerhardus Du Toit
  • Schalk Burger Geldenhuys
  • Johannes Servaas Germishuys
  • Johan Wilhelm Heunis
  • Eben-haéser Jansen
  • Wilhelm Julius Heinrich Kahts
  • Eduard Friedrich Wilhelm Krantz
  • Robert James Louw
  • Louis Christiaan Moolman
  • Raymond Herman Mordt
  • Ockert Wessel Oosthuizen
  • Zacharias Mattheus Johannes Pienaar
  • Shaun Albert Povey
  • David Jacobus Serfontein
  • Marthinus Theunis Steyn Stofberg
  • Henning Jonathan Van Aswegen
  • Phillip Rudolph Van der Merwe
  • Gabriël Pieter Visagie
  • Johann De Villiers Visser
  • Barend Johannes Wolmarans
  • Errol Tobias

All Blacks

  • Captain Andrew Grant "Andy" Dalton
  • Murray Mexted
  • Billy Bush. captain of the Maori team