The 800m², two-storey museum is sited on Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront, and tells the story of the history of rugby in South Africa ‘including the largely untold story of pre-democracy black rugby’, according to Mather & Co.
The consultancy worked with historians, rugby specialists and present and past rugby players to develop the content themes and narrative structures.
The museum features exhibits and object displays such as trophies and jerseys alongside technology including large-scale AV projections and touchscreens.
Visitors enter the ground floor space though a player’s tunnel, which leads to the museum’s main hub.
Interactives in the space allow people to play fitness games and take kicking and passing tests to see how they compare to Springbok players.
The upper gallery displays are arranged mainly chronologically from the 1860s to present day, with some themed areas. According to Mather & Co, in some spaces ‘the interpretation and presentation is challenging and designed to trigger emotion.’
The apartheid era area sees visitors ‘squeezed into a dark, cramped space’ to view the Book of the Unwelcome petition that was presented to the Springboks on arrival in New Zealand in 1981 from residents that opposed the tour due to South Africa’s apartheid regime.
Sarah Clarke, Mather & Co project director, says, ‘The Springbok Experience is a modern, interactive and up-to-date museum which looks at the historical, social and political influences rugby has had in South Africa – the project is much more than just a rugby museum; it’s a heritage project’.
She adds, ‘For the first time ever, we have also included black history from the 1860s to present day, and explored largely unknown rugby history with the challenge of having very little visual material to represent it.’