rugbyms.jpg (69396 bytes)Barefoot Rugby

Louis van Rooyen (SA) writes:

Here are some more examples! The "Barefoot Bokkies" illustrated a report in "The Star" some years ago.
Here is the accompanying text:


The Louwtjies (= meaning the little ones from Louw Geldenhuys - Louis) are none other than the finest collection of potential Springboks to take to the field for years.

They are the under-11 A rugby team of Johannesburg's Louw Geldenhuys Primary School - and have been playing rugby together since they were in the under-8 league.

Click for larger (33923 bytes) versionThe 26-man - or rather boy - squad has made its name during the past three years by scoring - barefooted - a remarkable record of 1672 points with only 30 points recored against them. During this time they have not lost a single game.

Now they are to go to Britain and Europe for a three-week tour starting on April 1 and which will include three matches against under 12 teams in England, Scotland and Wales.

The only further preparation they need is a little more training - in rugby boots...
    (so ... what is a "Bokkie"?)

More Barefoot Rugby

This "kaalvoet specialist" picture also appeared in "The Star" recently ...

Click for larger version (58984 bytes)Finally, to show bare feet are PC, I include the pic (from a magazine) of the little girl playing rugby! The caption reads: "There's time for joking on the rugby field, but Keziah takes her game seriously. Lucky for the boys, under-eight players don't wear boots yet."

Playing barefoot is the norm for primary schools, but according to a guide published for schools ("I play rugby" by Paul du Plessis) the older boys are expected to wear boots for games against other schools to prepare them for "more advanced playing". When I was still a teacher, I read a guide by Dr Danie Craven, the late doyen of South African rugby, in which he said youngsters should play barefooted because it encourages them to play "running rugby", they are more sure-footed and it reinforces the idea that rugby is after only a game, especially at that level. (One wonders whether this wouldn't be a good principle for adult rugby as well!)

Shaun Goodbrand (SA) writes:

Chelsea Drive is in the city in which I grew up, Durban, KwaZulu Natal. When I was in primary school, (gulp!) 26 years ago, we still played in boots. Since many of us played soccer on the weekends, we played in soccer boots. Now, in my world (in the bad old days of apartheid), white KwaZulu Natal schools were 80% English speaking and it was the 'Last Outpost of the British Empire' - 9 year olds wearing blazers, ties in humid 30C weather.

When our Headmaster deigned to organise fixtures against an Afrikaans school, who refused to play in boots, we were forced to wear "plimsolls" i.e sneakers or the more popular South African term - "tackies". I think my hatred for shoes grew when wehad to do fitness training. I once made an excuse that my foot was cramping and was told to go barefoot. It certainly helped me as I was revitalised and I positively flew across the field.

Chelsea Drive Senior Primary
chsport2.jpg (19970 bytes)In high school, we "graduated" to proper aluminium studded boots, although many of us attended preseason training barefoot. It was a great time of the year, the rains were still around and the fields were muddy. You learnt good footwork on the scrumming machine, slipping and sliding around almost burying your feet into the squelch!

We also had Friday afternoon "tackie runs", in preparation for the Saturday game but anyone who was not barefoot was considered odd. Our first team place kicker often forgot his boots and practised barefoot quite comfortably.

But back to the primary schools. The push towards barefoot rugby in the Natal Rugby Union has accelerated. In my day, the odd representative side had a barefoot (Afrikaans) player or two amongst 13 or 14 shod (English) players - this was dangerous. The Natal team, for many years, did not compete in the national primary schools week because they did not play barefoot but happily pressure has changed that.

Now they actively promote Mini Rugby as curtain raisers at the King's Park Stadium before the Natal Sharks games. They parade onto the ground with banners like "Bakers Mini Rugby do it Barefoot" and in the match programmes there advertisements which state that Mini Rugby is safe because we do it barefoot. I'm writing this just before I go to play touch rugby at lunch time, we all play barefoot, of course!


Barefoot School Rugby in New Zealand

OtahuhuRugby1965.jpeg (67589 bytes)

Otahuhu Primary - Rugby Team - 1965

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