This event, roughly coincided with the completion of the Third Currie Cup Tournament in Johannesburg, the founding of the Orange Free State (OFS) and Rhodesian (now Zimbabwean) Rugby Football Unions. The breakaway action and the subsequent decision of the RFU to declare any player who has participated in a game where gate money was taken, a professional, had direct implications for the South African Rugby Football Board (SARF) (1889) and its affiliates.
One month before the launch of the Northern Rugby Football Union, the Orange River Colony Rugby Football Union (ORCFU) requested the intervention of the South African Rugby Football Board (SARFB) in a case of suspected professionalism when a player called “Jumpers” was suspected of having changed both residence and workplace to play for another union. In its reply to this request, the SARFB stressed the need for conclusive evidence before it could act.
It also noted that:” in a country like this where men are always more or less on the move, it would I think, be almost an impossibility to prove that a man had changed residence solely on the inducement of better employment or a pecuniary consideration be given him on his promising to play for a certain town or club, and it should also be borne in mind that the player himself would invariably deny the charge and that it would be no easy task to get the person who offered the inducement to admit that he had done so.” Following this and moving into the 20th century, the body on various occasions had to give strong guidance to its affiliates concerning this and other matters.
Two years later (1897), the newly-established South African Coloured Rugby Football Board (SACRFB), a black rugby body, adopted the rules of the Rugby Football Union and similarly outlawed professionalism.
By Hendrik Snyders