The New Zealand All Blacks rugby team arrived for their controversial tour of South Africa on Friday (25 June).
The New Zealand All Blacks rugby team arrived for their controversial tour of South Africa on Friday (25 June). Before leaving New Zealand the team was subjected to a constant barrage of jeering from anti-apartheid protesters.
SYNOPSIS: The All Blacks arrived in Johannesburg after a marathon journey which took them through parts of Asia, Europe and Africa. The round-about route from New Zealand was made necessary by the refusal of Australian workers to handle the aircraft carrying the team. Hundreds of cheering rugby fans greeted them on their arrival at Jan Smuts airport.
Their farewell from New Zealand was marked with a demonstration by anti-apartheid supporters. The group mounted a 24-hour vigil outside the team's hotel. When it was time to leave, police formed a human barrier as the players filed into their bus.
Two men were arrested for throwing a paint bomb, but otherwise the demonstration was restricted to jeering. At Auckland airport police diverted the convoy of buses and police cars through a back road, by-passing the demonstrators. Eventually the aircraft left on schedule leaving a nation bitterly divided on the issue.
Afterwards, in South Africa the welcome to the All Blacks continued with a dinner in their honour. Elsewhere in the world, the tour is not going unnoticed. A United Nations sponsored anti-apartheid seminar recently discussed a possible boycott of New Zealand-contested events at the Montreal Olympics.