In 1971, when the racially selected all-white South African rugby team toured, Australia was the scene of mass anti-apartheid protest. Tens of thousands of anti-apartheid campaigners clashed with governments, police, and rugby fans. At the Sydney Cricket Ground 300 cops surrounded the perimeter fence which was strung with barbed wire to deter climbers. Despite the massive mobilisation of state repression thousands marched onto the grounds, pelting golf balls and fireworks.
In Melbourne 4000 wharfies went on strike against the game, airline workers refused to fly the racist team and unionists banned them from every club and hotel in Adelaide. The militant anti-apartheid protests against the Springboks galvanised a generation of anti-racist activists across the country and demonstrated the power of working class struggle to fight racism. This session will look at the radical anti-racist history of the 1971 protests against the Springboks.