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Synopsis

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. Liz McGregor is a veteran author and journalist who started off her career on leading South African newspapers and subsequently moved to Britain where she worked for the Guardian for several years. Her first book, Khabzela: The Life and Times of a South African, laid bare the complex reasoning behind a DJ’s refusal to take medication to stave off AIDS. She has co-edited and contributed to two collections of essays: At Risk and Load-shedding.

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