Errol Tobias
South Africa
player portrait
Full name Errol George Tobias
Born March 18, 1950, Caledon
Current age 74 years 95 days
Major teams South Africa, South Africa XV
Position Fly-half
Height 5 ft 9 in
Weight 169 lb

Test career
Span Mat Start Sub Pts Tries Conv Pens Drop Won Lost Draw %
All Tests 1981-1984 6 6 0 22 1 3 4 0 6 0 0 100

Career statistics
Test debut South Africa v Ireland at Cape Town, May 30, 1981 match details
Last Test South Africa v South America at Cape Town, Oct 27, 1984 match details
Test Statsguru Main menu | Career summary | Match list | Most points | Most tries | Tournament list

Errol Tobias sealed his place in South African rugby history by becoming the first black player to start a Test match for the Springboks, when he faced Ireland at Newlands on May 30, 1981.

A strong-running fly-half, Tobias had previously got a taste of international rugby with the Proteas, one of four rugby associations in South Africa at the time, and later with the South African Barbarians in 1979.

His Springboks call up followed two years later although there was some opposition to his inclusion from both black and white communities. Some felt he should not play as long as apartheid policies existed, while many white people who supported apartheid wanted Tobias excluded.

Tobias turned out in both Tests against the touring Irish, with South Africa winning 23-15 at Newlands and 12-10 in Durban. In that same year, Tobias was selected for the Springbok tour of New Zealand, but found himself out of favour and restricted to appearances in the midweek side.

He had to wait some time for his next Test cap, which came in 1984 against England in South Africa. With Tobias pulling the strings at fly-half, the Springboks beat the tourists 33-15 in Port Elizabeth and 35-9 in Johannesburg.

Later that year Tobias played his final two Tests for the Boks, and was again on the winning side. Facing South America, the Springboks triumphed 22-13 in Cape Town and 32-15 in Pretoria - meaning Tobias never played in a losing South African side in a Test match.

Tobias retired in 1984 at the age of 34, having played 15 times for the Springboks, including in six Tests having paved the way for future Springboks from the black community.

"We had no say in politics. We didn't even have a vote, so all I knew at that stage was to play rugby," Tobias recalled some years later. "My goal was to show the country and the rest of the world that we had black players who were equally as good, if not better, than the whites, and that if you are good enough you should play."

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Latest Photos
May 23, 1984
Errol Tobias in actions for the Proteas
Errol Tobias in actions for the Proteas
©  Getty Images