Author John D’Eathe is a product of the golden years of amateur rugby. He has seen the game transform from elitist and non-inclusive into the brilliant, open Sunshine Rugby of today.
He met Tokkie Smith in 1959 in exotic Hong Kong and joined him for a decade in the waning days of the Empire and of Colonial rugby. He played regularly for the Club, a few times for Hong Kong and has a Blarney Stone Sevens tournament mug.
He lost out to concussion and took on RU Hon Sec. during the opening up of the game, leading later to the establishment of the Asia Rugby Union. He mixed with the amateur Old Toffs still running RFU from England.
He moved to Vancouver but continued rugby friendships that have helped him research this book. He looks back objectively and sees the impact his friend Tokkie Smith had upon world rugby. Many influenced change but Tokkie was special with his life totally committed to the game, progressively including different peoples and nations.
Perversely his liberal attitude caused his downfall and personal tragedy. In the crowning achievement of his life, his insistence upon the Sevens game being played and upon multi-racial inclusion produced the Hong Kong Sevens, which he organised and managed in its early years. It was this critical and exciting turning point in the international rugby paradigm for which he personally deserves the credit.
The author asserts that Tokkie Smith is an unsung hero of today's all-welcoming game but that he was deprived of his legacy and cast into obscurity by a confused, self absorbed and elitist local rugby establishment.
The book seeks to re-establish his rightful place in rugby history.
Creating the Hong Kong Sevens
The Hong Kong Sevens produced a burst of brilliant rugby which brightens the world.
It didn't just happen but was created through progressive inclusion.
In the process Founder South African Tokkie Smith was caught up in the turbulent forefront of the game's move from white domination and into the clutches of big money.
It brought him personal tragedy but gave the world Sunshine Rugby.
"The colonial rugby elite sat in stunned silence. He had been accused but not heard. Never before had they been required to make such an emotional and personal decision. Slowly, one by one, they raised their hands and his life was over."
'The book offers a fascinating peek into how the rugby establishment worked in the 1960s and 1970s.'
Andy Capostagno, sports commentator at Supersport, features Tokkie Smith and the Colour of Rugby in the latest installment of Cover 2 Cover
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