Football as code : the social diffusion of soccer in South Africa

Hill, Lloyd B. (2010-03)

Original article can by found at


This essay explores the processes associated with the emergence of rugby and soccer as distinct ‘sporting codes’ in South Africa. Beginning with an elaboration of the concept of ‘sporting code’, the author traces in broad brush strokes the events that transformed the two English codes into new forms of cultural capital in transnational sporting fields. Set against this wider context, the focus then shifts to the ‘social diffusion’ of rugby and soccer in the territories that would subsequently constitute the South African state. It is argued that between 1859 and the discovery of gold in 1886 rugby and soccer emerged in two relatively distinct fields, centred on the British Cape and Natal colonies. The essay then explores the stratification of these fields, following the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910. Particular attention is given to the relative status of rugby and soccer in the colonial education systems and in the post-1910 national education system.

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