22 Jul 2011

30 years since first game of 1981 Springbok tour

10:20 pm on 22 July 2011

It's 30 years since the first game in the 1981 Springbok rugby tour of New Zealand.

The match in Gisborne was the first of 16 fixtures that divided the country.

There were dramatic protests against sports contact with South Africa and its apartheid policy during the two-month tour.

The anniversary coincides with the All Blacks playing Fiji, a country facing politically imposed restrictions.

The New Zealand Rugby Union last year apologised for barring Maori from All Black teams touring South Africa during apartheid.

The anniversary comes as the All Blacks met Fiji, a country also facing politically imposed restrictions, on Friday night.

NZRU chief executive Steve Tew sees a possible irony in the anniversary coinciding with the Dunedin test against Fiji.

Fiji cannot bring team members with close ties to its military-backed regime, but Mr Tew says the game is appropriate and within Government policy.

The All Blacks won 60-14.