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South Africa national rugby league team

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Title: South Africa national rugby league team  
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Collection: National Rugby League Teams, National Sports Teams of South Africa, South Africa National Rugby League Team
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South Africa national rugby league team

South Africa
Nickname Die renosters (The Rhinos)
Governing body South African Rugby League
Region Africa
Head coach Steven van Zyl
Garry Schofield (Technical Director)[1]
Captain Andre Loader
RLIF ranking 24th
First international
 Great Britain 49 – 30 South Africa 
(Durban, South Africa; 23 August 1962)
Biggest win
 Italy 6 – 42 South Africa 
(Venice, Italy; 17 June 2006)
Biggest defeat
 Australia 86 – 6 South Africa 
(Gateshead, England; 10 October 1995)
World Cup
Appearances 2 (first time in 1995)
Best result Round 1; 1995, 2000

The South Africa national rugby league team are a growing force in rugby league football, South Africa competes sporadically against other international nations because of their location and their absence from any major international competitions. They are ranked twenty-fourth in the world currently, just behind Ukraine and ahead of Netherlands in the world rankings. South Africa to date have competed at two Rugby League World Cups in 1995 and 2000 but to date have failed to win a game in the competition.

Rugby league was originally introduced to South Africa in the 1950s with the staging of several series tournaments within the country that saw fixtures between the English and the French however this concept failed to generate the needed interest and was not upheld. The South Africans would not see further international rugby league until the 1960s where the first national side undertook fixtures against the visiting British and a tour to Australia. From the 1960s onwards the international fixture list for the South Africans would be minimal and it would not be until the early 1990s when they would begin to play with some lasting regularity.

Since they began playing international rugby league South Africa have always found it difficult to compete against the more established nations and so progress and improvement have been slow. Possibly their greatest achievement to date has been the qualification and participation in two World Cups in both 1995 and 2000 where South Africa would unfortunately fail to win a fixture after being seeded in tough groups at both tournaments where they would have to play world champions Australia along with England, Fiji, France, Papua New Guinea and Tonga.

South Africa traditionally play in a predominately green uniform with black shorts, they have commonly been referred to as The Rhinos since the early 1990s. The South African emblem is a red and yellow King Protea plant which is the national flower of South Africa. South African internationals are played at a variety of venues throughout the country with no singular home ground being used.

For more South African stats, news, team results and more visit South Africa's RLEF Page.


  • History 1
  • 2011 Squad 2
  • Notable players 3
  • Fixtures 4
    • 2008 4.1
    • 2009 4.2
    • 2011 4.3
  • Honours 5
  • See also 6
  • Footnotes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Rugby league first gained attention in South Africa when the English and French attempted expansion in the 1950s for the purpose of creating further international opposition.[2] Three games were then played between the two nations on the continent but both sides viewed the matches as nothing more than friendly fixtures so never undertook the games in a serious manner and the public never subsequently took to the three exhibition games.

Over the next several years, rugby league lay dormant in South Africa and it was not until the 1960s when talks of creating a national side began. After much discussion within South Africa, it was eventually agreed that a national side would play a touring Great Britain and then undertake a tour of Australasia. The first South African national side played their first competitive fixture on 23 August 1962 and put on a good showing against the much stronger British but eventually lost by nineteen points 49–30. The following two fixtures turned out to be much the same with the South Africans being defeated on another two occasions but putting in good performances whilst never being comprehensively beaten. The South Africans embarked on their first tour eleven months later with a twenty-four-man squad that included several former Springboks. The tour started with several friendly fixtures against various minor representative sides where they gained two comfortable victories; the first international fixture of the tour took place in Brisbane against the world champion Australians and the South Africans performed with courage but eventually lost the match 34–6. The following test was played a week later in Sydney that again saw the team put in a tough effort but would lose again 54–21. South Africa would leave Australia without an international win and be low on confidence heading to New Zealand to play a sole fixture against the New Zealand national side whom were expected to win comfortably. However, the match turned out to be a tough encounter and surprisingly saw the team gain its first international victory 4–3[3] The South Africans featured several Australian players bought in to cover injuries and improve the quality of the side and so the match against New Zealand is not counted as a test match.[4]
Official Rankings as of December 2014[5]
Rank Change Team Points
1 Steady  Australia 984.00
2  New Zealand 884.00
3  England 485.00
4 Increase  Samoa 316.00
5 Decrease  France 215.00
6  Fiji 184.00
7 Increase  Ireland 154.00
8  Scotland 123.00
9 Decrease  Wales 122.00
10  United States 119.00
11  Papua New Guinea 112.00
12 Steady  Italy 79.00
13 Increase  Serbia 49.00
14  Canada 49.00
15 Decrease  Russia 45.00
16  Tonga 32.00
17  Cook Islands 31.00
18 Steady  Germany 27.00
19  Norway 22.00
20  Ukraine 21.00
21  Lebanon 19.00
22  Belgium 19.00
23 Increase  Greece 19.00
24 Decrease  Malta 18.00
25 Steady  Netherlands 14.00
26 Increase  Denmark 13.00
27 Decrease  Jamaica 11.00
28 Steady  Spain 9.00
29 Increase  Czech Republic 7.00
30  Sweden 7.00
31 Decrease  South Africa 4.00
32 Increase  Hungary 2.00
33 Decrease  Latvia 0.00
34 Steady  Morocco 0.00

After this first string of international fixtures the South Africans became disheartened after only winning four of the thirteen tour matches and rugby league again lay dormant for decades.

The Rugby League World Cup tournament had been scheduled to be held in France in 1965, this time with the inclusion of the South African team.[6] However the tournament was abandoned.

The early 1990s saw new South African administrators begin to rebuild the international facet of South African rugby. During 1992, the South African national side again played for the first time in years against several combined African representative teams and the following years saw things look more promising for the Africans with their qualification into the 1995 World Cup and more regularity in international fixtures. Their first World Cup saw the South Africans seeded into the toughest group of the competition containing Australia, England and Fiji. The South Africans found their three group matches extremely difficult and failed to win a match during the tournament.

The following years saw the South Africans play on an inconsistent basis against several touring sides and qualify for their second consecutive World Cup in 2000. Leading into the tournament they were hopeful of gaining their first Cup win after being drawn into an easier yet still competitive group with France, Papua New Guinea and Tonga.[7] After initial optimism leading into the competition the South Africans would face Tonga in their first world cup fixture and be comprehensively beaten 66–18.[8] The following world cup matches would add further disappointment and diminish all optimism the South Africans originally had with further heavy losses to both Papua New Guinea[9] and the French.[10]

After a second disappointing World Cup the side would again begin playing irregularly with one off fixtures over the next several years and it would not be until 2006 when they would again undertake another tour. A tour to Italy would be undertaken in June 2006 that saw the South Africans play in two tests and a nines competition in Montelanico.

In 2008, the South Africa Rhinos were scheduled to participate in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup Qualifiers in the Atlantic pool also featuring the USA, Japan and the West Indies. The winner of the tournament would enter into the repecharge round for the chance to qualify for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup. South Africa withdrew alongside the West Indies due to financial reasons, leaving the tournament as a one off fixture between the USA and Japan. As a result of their withdrawal South Africa forfeited the opportunity to qualify for the World Cup.

In 2011 however, the South Africa national rugby league team participated in the Atlantic Qualification Tournament as part of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup Qualifiers. The winner of the tournament qualified for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup that is to be held in England and Wales. Despite beating Canada 36–22 in a warm-up match before the beginning of the tournament,[11] South Africa nevertheless lost to USA 40–4 in the opening match of the tournament.[12]

2011 Squad

Notable players

Since rugby league has been known to the nation of South Africa since the 1950s many players of South African birth or heritage have gone on to attain notability in representing either South Africa, other nations or appearing in major domestic leagues around the world, some of the more notable South Africans have included:

Player Position Association to South Africa Distinctions
Fred Anderson Hooker Born Cape Town Former South African Captain
Played for Canterbury & South Sydney
Jamie Bloem Fullback / Wing Born Cape Town Former South African Captain
1995 & 2000 World Cup appearances
Tom van Vollenhoven Wing Born South Africa Debatably greatest South African player
Dual international
Jarrod Saffy Second Row Born Benoni Played in the St. George Illawarra Dragons
Sean Rutgerson Prop/Second Row Played in the NRL with the Canberra Raiders and in the Super League with the Salford Red Devils
Christiaan Roets Centre Born in Pretoria He represented South Africa in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup qualifying competition. He played for Wales in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup. He has played his club rugby league with the South Wales Scorpions and the North Wales Crusaders in the Kingstone Press Championship 1.



Opposition Venue Date Result
Lancashire Lancashire 5 October 55–12
Cumbria Cumbria 8 October 44–34
Yorkshire Leeds 12 October 66–6
BARLA Hull 17 October ---


  • SA (34) vs British defence Force (38)
  • SA (12) vs Australian Universities (42)
  • SA "A" (24) vs British community Lions (42)
  • SA (6) vs British community Lions (36)


Date Result Competition Venue Attendance
19 October 2011 South Africa 6–20 Jamaica 2013 Rugby League World Cup Qualifiers Philadelphia, United States TBD
15 October 2011 USA def. South Africa 40–4 2013 Rugby League World Cup Qualifiers Philadelphia, United States 300 approx
9 October 2011 South Africa def. Canada 36–22 Friendly International Fletcher's Field, Markham, Ontario, Canada Not known


  • None

See also


  1. ^ Wilson, Andy (12 July 2010). "Garry Schofield makes surprise return to coaching with South Africa". The Guardian (London). 
  2. ^ History of rugby league in South Africa South African Rugby League Retrieved 18 May 2007.
  3. ^ South African Tour of Australasia International Competitions Website Retrieved 18 May 2007.
  4. ^ Coffey and Wood The Kiwis: 100 Years of International Rugby League ISBN 1-86971-090-8
  5. ^ [1]; RLIF Rankings
  6. ^ AAP; Reuter (15 August 1962). "League Cup Year Fixed".  
  7. ^ Rhinos aim to break duck BBC Sport Retrieved 20 May 2007.
  8. ^ Tonga too strong for Rhinos BBC Sport Retrieved 20 May 2007.
  9. ^ Kumuls see off dogged Rhinos BBC Sport Retrieved 20 May 2007.
  10. ^ French seal spot in last eight BBC Sport Retrieved 20 May 2007.
  11. ^
  12. ^


  • "South African Rugby League". Rugby League 1908. Retrieved 20 May 2007. 

External links

Official websites
  • South African Rugby League Online
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