South Africa: James Small – a Turbulent Life, Both On and Off the Rugby Field

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It was James Small’s fate to be in the vanguard of an era of celebrity sportsmen when events off the field became as much a subject of public curiosity as those between the white lines.

James Small, who has died at the age of 50, played his rugby at the most momentous time in the history of the South African game.

His first Test match in 1992 was the first for the Springboks at the dawn of the new, internationally acceptable South Africa following the release of Nelson Mandela and the unbanning of the ANC. He was one of the heroes of the Springbok team that won the 1995 Rugby World Cup and he experienced the transition of rugby from a nominally amateur game to one in which its leading players became wealthy professionals.

It was also Small’s fate to be in the vanguard of an era of celebrity sportsmen when events off the field became as much a subject of public curiosity as those between the white lines.

He was involved in an incident in a Port Elizabeth nightclub in 1993 which led to him being dropped from the Springboks, was the first Springbok to be sent off in…

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