Ja-Nee is not just an insider’s account of what it means to be a young Springbok on the darkest day in South African rugby history -the afternoon when Willie John McBride’s 1974 British Lions scored five tries to beat the Boks 28-9 at a packed Loftus Versfeld – but an insightful and sometimes hilarious study of two very different cultures.
After a shock first test defeat against the Lions, in an atmosphere of panic, the selectors made seven changes to the Springbok side and Macdonald, the 24-year-old eighth man who played for the University of Cape Town and Western Province, was called up for the second test. Weaving his own experience of the test through the commentaries of Gerhard Viviers, the voice of Springbok Rugby, SABC’s Kim Shippey and BBC’s Alun Williams, Macdonald tells the minute-by-minute story of that catastrophic winter afternoon.
With insight and unusual humour, his account explores the myths of Springbok rugby, sharing his theories about the badge, the jersey and the resolute Afrikaans rugby players who had never lost to the Lions before. Written nearly 50 years after the event in an idiosyncratic and colloquial style, Macdonald offers his impressions of a gifted generation of Lions, Phil Bennett, the unsmiling Mervyn Davies and the effervescent Gareth Edwards.
This is rugby history as it has never been written before. It’s the story of a rugby match from the inside, and of a series defeat that would traumatise the South African rugby establishment for years. A compelling rugby story that transcends rugby.
About the author:
Dugald Macdonald played rugby for Western Province 1972-1974 and was capped for the Springboks against the British Lions in 1974. He continued playing rugby in Italy, for Oxford University, and then three years playing for Stade Toulousain, France. In 2001 he completed a 5 000-kilometre rowing trip across the Atlantic and four years later, he trekked to the North Magnetic Pole. He lives in Cape Town.