Stayed up late last night to cram it in. Good work. Very good work!

- Tim Noonan, South China Morning Post, Rugby journalist

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It was good to see you mention the Canadian rugby involvement on two occasions. The first was very hush-hush at the time - but we all knew about Ro Hindson's second when Rugby World had a colour photo of him in action! 

Tokkie's tour to South Africa was a bit of a gamble in dangerous times and It cost him dearly. He loved his rugby and its atmosphere and his vision was ahead of the time.

- Doug Sturrock, Canadian rugby author and historian

While this book is essentially about Tokkie Smith and his contribution to rugby union in Asia and the world, it is about much more. 

It is about the fight against the elitist rugby bodies and their double standards, it is about the stranglehold of world rugby’s governing body, it is about Hong Kong in the colonial era, and above all it is about the birth of one of the biggest and most exciting events on the international rugby calendar – the Hong Kong Sevens.

-  Martin Tiffany, Fijian rugby journalist

Just finished reading the book. I can’t express how emotional I got  finding out so much I didn’t know about my brother and how beautifully you explained it. Our whole family were anti-apartheid and taking the tour to South Africa was rebellious and brave. It makes me proud to read that about him.

Thank you again for your beautiful powerful emotionally moving description of Tokkie. It would definitely have tears rolling down his cheeks as it has mine. 

- Beth Narain, Tokkie's sister

Extracts from comments by Tokkie's  colleagues:

  • In rugby terms Tokkie was my hero, totally dedicated  to the cause with enthusiasm and spirit which could not be dampened. He is still a hero with his foundation work for the Sevens. You have captured that so well - but you have also captured Tokkie’s personality magnificently such that those of us who knew and loved him can  benefit again from his memory.
  • Thank you and congratulations! Dad just phoned me to say that he thought the book was wonderful. He has been gushing about it in an e-mail. Wonderful stuff...thanks very much to you and well done.
  • Your excellent book arrived today and I really do congratulate you on a masterly portrayal of dear Tokkie. You have captured the man perfectly from beginning to end and you exposed the inevitable politics. Tokkie Smith was a dear friend. Well done John.  A great read and thank you.
  • Just finished reading it – very enjoyable, and most informative, congratulations!

Preview the first chapter

Take a look at Chapter 1 of Tokkie Smith and the Colour of Rugby. 

Table of contents

Part 1 Makee Learnee 

Chapter 1 The Gloucester Bar 

Chapter 2 Frillies 

Chapter 3 A Son of England 

Chapter 4 Getting it in London 

Chapter 5 The Fading Empire 

Part 2 Hong Kong 

Chapter 6 An End to Isolation 

Chapter 7 Opening up the Game 

Chapter 8 I Zigga Zumba 

Chapter 9 Tokkie Gets Sophisticated 

Chapter 10 Goodbye White Rugby 

Chapter 11 The All Blacks 

Chapter 12 The Need for Sponsors

Part 3 Uniting Asia 

Chapter 13 Joining the Establishment 

Chapter 14 Last of the Amateur Toffs 

Chapter 15 Family Affairs 

Chapter 16 The Roberts Era 

Chapter 17 Finally, England 

Chapter 18 Tokkie Takes Over 

Part 4 Founding the Sevens 

Chapter 19 Big Money 

Chapter 20 Decision 

Chapter 21 Founding the Sevens 

Chapter 22 Old Friends 

Part 5 Apartheid 

Chapter 23 Prestigious Years 

Chapter 24 A Return to Africa 

Chapter 25 A Good Try 

Chapter 26 Secret Plans 

Chapter 27 The Brilliant Islanders 

Chapter 28 Finding the Dragons 

Chapter 29 A Secret Arrival 

Chapter 30 ‘A Worthwhile Exercise’ 

Part 6 Judgement 

Chapter 31 The Reckoning 

Chapter 32 Alone 

Chapter 33 The Morning After 

Chapter 34 A Rolling, Bouncing Ball 

Chapter 35 Final Whistle 

Chapter 36 Redemption


Willie Jones


This book is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Will Jones, late of Port Macquarie in Australia, a dashing scrum half and pal from student days, then family man, dedicated surgeon , lifelong friend and always a hilarious raconteur. 

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