From the Transvaal to the Cantal: The Exodus of South African Rugby Union Players to France

Abstract : In 2010, 40% of the French professional rugby workforce was made of foreigners. Though some reasons for, and conditions of, such large-scale migration are common to all players, South Africans deserves specific interest if only because since the early 2000s, over 300 of them have plied their trade in France, which makes them the largest foreign contingent in the French leagues, way ahead of New Zealanders, Argentines, Georgians and South Pacific Islanders. In 2009, no less than twelve South Africans even played for a second division team at Aurillac, a small town in Cantal, a rural district in central France, and a most unlikely place for so many 'Saffies' to settle. Some rugby union supporters consider that it is the easy way out for clubs to buy a South African for half the price and the trouble of grooming a local boy up from the youth categories, not to mention the shallow commitment to le maillot, the club colours, and the accusation of mercenary motives. The aim of this paper is to look into the specificities and paradoxes of this migrant workforce, both in contrast to other nationalities and in respect of the links which unite the French and South African rugby cultures, against the backdrop of professional rugby.
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Journal articles
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Submitted on : Wednesday, March 7, 2018 - 4:02:29 PM
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Bernard Cros. From the Transvaal to the Cantal: The Exodus of South African Rugby Union Players to France. Cultures of the Commonwealth, Societe d'Etude des Pays du Commonwealth, 2012, pp.89--102. ⟨hal-01725752⟩

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