“If Britain wants war on Africa, She will have it”: African reprisals to the 1974 British Lions Rugby Tour of South Africa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The Supreme Council for Sport in Africa announced that all independent African nations would boycott all British sport if the British Lions rugby team toured South Africa in 1974. Despite condemnation from segments of the British public, entreaties from government ministers, and African threats, the rugby tour went ahead. This article adds to a large body of scholarship on the struggle against apartheid in sport, within which the 1974 Lions tour has received little attention, and focuses on the transnational efforts to stop that tour led by Kenya and independent Africa. Calls for reprisals across the continent were not unanimous, and the disparity of African reactions challenges perceptions of the “Africa bloc” as a monolith guaranteed to maintain a united front on anti-apartheid sport activity. Reactions to the tour anticipated events two years later at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, and this event became a test case for strategies designed to isolate South Africa through punitive actions against third-party nations that broke ranks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)172-188
Number of pages17
JournalSport History Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • History

Cite this