South Africa is one of the world’s biggest sports loving nations, and it is no surprise. The enjoyment of sports from both a spectator and a participant’s perspective crossed borders, genders, races and ages. In a multicultural society such as ours, sports of different types draw a fan-base from far and wide. So, whether they are being enjoyed professionally, as extra-curricular activities, or just on a social basis… Here are some of the most popular sports enjoyed by South Africans country-wide.
Worldwide, there are some 2 300 000 registered rugby players . This full-contact sport is one of the most popular activities for spectators and players in South Africa. This sport is both physically and mentally demanding.
Each team consists of 15 players that make up the back and front lines who are responsible for defense and offence respectively. The goal is to score tries or conversions. This is done by maneuvering players who are holding the ball to the opponent’s try-line. Also by kicking it through their goal posts.
With only 13 players per side, rugby league is a far more fast-paced version of union. This makes it a more entertaining game for spectators. Its rules have also been adapted from those of union rugby to ensure the past pace. It is alleged that rugby league came about in 1895 as the result of payment disputes brought up by players of rugby union. Whatever its origins, the game is extremely popular both in South Africa and world-wide, especially in the northern hemisphere.
Sean Fagan from the Rugby League Reference Center (NRL) found that:
“Rugby league began in 1895, as the ‘Northern Union’, when clubs in the North of England broke away from the RFU. The clubs wanted to compensate their working-class players for time away from work for rugby tours and injuries.The RFU refused, saying ‘if men couldn’t afford to play, then they shouldn’t play at all’. In the decade that followed, rugby league made changes setting itself apart from rugby union.
Teams were reduced from 15 to 13 players (two forwards were eliminated), and the play-the-ball was introduced to lessen the need for scrums and to replace rugby union’s scrappy rucks and mauls (where the ball often disappeared from view for minutes on end).The changes made League the far more popular code in England amongst spectators and players alike. The increased gate-money allowed the rugby league clubs to pay benefits to the footballers the crowds had come to watch and support.”
Soccer, or as the rest of the world calls it, football, is possibly one of the most popular sports played in South Africa. Considering the overwhelming global following that this sport has, this comes as little surprise.
This sporting classic is played between two teams of eleven players. It supports an incredibly lucrative industry of clubs that include provincial and national teams. The low contact nature of the sport makes it ideal for players of varying ages. This means that it is often enjoyed as a social sport as well as a professional one.
Cricket was first played in the 15th century in South-East England. Since then it has become an incredibly popular sport all over the world. Nations which excel in the sport include South Africa, Australia, Pakistan and India; which makes sense since these nations have been heavily influenced by English colonial rule. Two teams of eleven take the field to either field and bowl, or bat in order to reach a higher score in a limited number of overs.
Water-polo is an incredibly competitive summer sport that tests one’s skill and endurance in 4-quarter games. It is played by two teams of seven, making up six field players and a goal keeper. It evolved in Great Britain when rugby was adapted to be played in rivers and lakes. This was in England and Scotland in the 1880’s.
During South Africa’s summer months, water-polo is popularly played in schools and clubs all over the country. Rigid training sessions often occur in winter to maintain a player’s fitness for the sport.
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