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Jonathan Ball

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L McGregor Finds that Strong Women Help to Mould Star Springbok Rugby Players

Springbok FactoryAs part of her research for Springbok Factory, a book exploring the factors that contribute to the forming of star rugby players, Liz McGregor spoke to the mothers, wives and girlfriends of successful Springboks.

McGregor found that the mothers of Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis and Jean de Villiers were both engaged in competitive sport as young women and, with this background, could get deeply involved in their sons’ sporting development, “but not in a pushy way”.

Jacque Fourie’s wife, Kelly, and Bryan Habana’s wife, Janine, are also strong women with their own careers, McGregor points out. She goes on to observe that professional rugby players: “often seem to marry women a year or so older than themselves. Presumably because they want strong women who are able to keep the home fires burning while they are off doing battle”.

Who are the women behind our Springbok rugby players? They may play it low-key publicly, but if you thought the Springbok women were demure foils to their famous men, think again.

A theme that emerges strongly in The Springbok Factory by Liz McGregor (Jonathan Ball) is the strength and resilience of the women behind and beside some of our best-known Springboks.

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