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Touch, Pause, Engage!

South Africa is a land of contrasts, as the tourist brochures promise, and this is true for the game of rugby. From the Pretoria heartland to the aspirant Eastern Cape, from the hardscrabble Cape Flats to the islands of privilege at Bishops and Grey College. No other rugby-playing nation has to grapple with so much diversity. Different languages, classes, races and cultures – each bearing the wounds of the country’s fractured past – have to be melded into winning teams.

Liz McGregor has spent the past three years shadowing Currie Cup, Super 14 and Springbok teams across the country, and has come to the conclusion that it is this very diversity, combined with the pain of the past and the dreams of a great united future, that provide the elusive alchemy that separates a good team from a great one.

Touch, Pause, Engage! is more than a book about rugby. It is an intimate look at how South Africa’s erstwhile elite is adapting to its new circumstances. Team South Africa has been through many a maul and bruising scrum, but is inching closer and closer to the tryline…

ISBN 9781868423095

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Praise for Touch, Pause, Engage!

“It’s a fabulous book. No other writer has done it as well as she has. A fabulously refreshing work. Young players talk honestly and openly to her. It is a wonderful book for anyone who loves rugby, a particularly refreshing way of looking at the game. Two sittings and I klapped it.” David O’Sullivan on Jenny Cryws Williams Show, Radio 702.


“McGregor’s greatest success with the book is that it draws little pictures for those who know nothing about the game, but also has genuine insider information for those who consider themselves old hands. McGregor’s gender gave her the kind of access that no beat writer could ever hope for. She was privy to the Ikeys’ Kontikis (fines meetings), their psychologist sessions, half-time talks, the works, something no rugby journalist has been able to get right. Well researched and well written, McGregor’s is a handbook on what makes SA rugby tick.” Simnikiwe Xabanisa, Sunday Times.


“Touch Pause Engage is iets heeltemaal nuuts.” Andre Brink, Rapport.


“McGregor’s, a detailed study that is part ethnographic and part sociological, is perhaps as fine an introduction to the complexity of South African rugby as one is likely to get.” Bongani Kona, The Cape Times.


“The value of her book lies in the freshness of her observations and the way in which she confounds many of the stereotypes that have grown up around local rugby” Richard Steyn, Financial Mail


A journey to the heart of South African rugby, and one well worth undertaking as a reader. Journalist Liz McGregor begins by shadowing UCT through a Varsity Cup campaign (and is soon suckered into joining in drinking games) and does likewise with Western Province through the Currie Cup. She visits the Eastern Cape, heartland of black rugby, and heads north to the bulls, where, for some, old attitudes die hard. There’s a lot of powerful stuff here: the passion of Heyneke Meyer, the pain of the injured Conrad Jantjies and the heartbreak of the wife of a coldly-discarded coach are just three interviews (our of dozens) that strike hard.Alan Pearey, deputy editor, Rugby World


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