In this extract from his book Pitched Battle Larry Writer details how Australia became a nation at war with itself – when the apartheid-era all-white South African rugby team toured.
In 1971 – when the racially selected all-white South African rugby team toured – Australia became a nation at war with itself.
There was bloodshed as tens of thousands of anti-apartheid campaigners clashed with governments – police, and rugby fans.
Following games in Perth Adelaide and Melbourne the Springboks moved to true rugby territory: Sydney.
On 6 July – a cold clear day – 300 police ringed the perimeter fence of the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Barbed wire had been strung around it to deter climbers and hurdlers.
Blue-overall-clad police wearing protective gloves prowled the sidelines – ready to defuse flares.
Warnings to demonstrators that they would be arrested if they invaded the field boomed from the public-address system.