1891 the first official tour to South Africa

Three years after the first tour which was an unofficial tour, the Western Province union invited Britain to tour South Africa.


As this tour was sanctioned by the Rugby Football Union, many people took it as the English rugby team, though it should be referred to as the British Isles. The tourists played a total of twenty matches, three of them tests and only conceded one try during the whole tour a feat that will probably never be repeated. The team also played the regional side of South Africa as South Africa did not exist as a political entity in 1891, winning all three matches. In a notable event of the tour, the touring side presented the Currie Cup to Griqualand West, the province considered the best performer on the tour. This cup is now contested for annually by the provinces.

Currie Cup
Currie Cup

This first official tour was only able to happen because the whole event was under written by Cecil Rhodes who was Prime Minister of the Cape Colony at the time and the founder of DeBeers Dimond mines.

The tour although made up predominantly of English players was captained by a Scot Bill MacLagen, whilst South Africa were skippered by Herbert Castens an old boy from Rugby School in their first ever test, RCD Snedden in the second and AR Richards in the third.