South Africa has to be up there with the sports-craziest nations on the planet. They’ve seen remarkable success in cricket and rugby union, as well as producing some of the finest golfers in history. Many disciplines in the Olympic Games have seen South Africans standing on the podium, including athletics, boxing, swimming and cycling.
And there are plenty of other sports that are supported both on a professional and grassroots level, and increasing infrastructure to boost homegrown talent in football (or soccer, depending on where you are in the world), among other games.
As well as having some of the most dedicated fans on the planet, South Africans also love to place bets on their favourite sports — and punters can find no shortage of sports to wager on or bookies at which to do so. Let’s take a closer look.
More of a religion than a sport in SA, the sport is played widely at the grassroots level from a young age, and the sport is well funded. This is reflected in the success of the Springboks, who have won the Rugby World Cup on three occasions — 1995, 2007, and 2019 — the first of which is remembered for a moment that transcended sport, with President Nelson Mandela presenting the trophy to captain Francois Pienaar helping to foster the flowering national unity after the end of Apartheid.
Although South Africans are (almost) as mad about cricket as they are about rugby, the national team has never quite hit the same heights of success. In the 8 ICC World Cups they’ve taken part in, they’ve fallen in the semi-finals an agonising 5 times, including the 2023 competition. But South Africans love to back their side, especially when it comes to placing bets — and there is no shortage of reputable variety of sports betting sites available to punters.
But they’ve fared well in test cricket over the years, and have topped the world rankings on occasion (they’re currently 4th), and have produced some of the greatest players of all time, AB de Villiers, Jacques Kallis, and Graeme Smith to name just three.
Soccer to you Americans, football has always been a popular sport in South Africa, although eclipsed by the popularity and ubiquity of rugby and cricket. The profile of football received a massive boost in 2010 when South Africa hosted the FIFA World Cup, and although the national team didn’t make it out of the group stage, they thrilled the fervent home supporters when Siphiwe Tshabalala scored the opening goal of the tournament against Mexico, and again when they defeated France in their final group game. The tournament is also remembered for its sheer noise level — the world heard the Vuvuzela for the first time.
And despite South Africa falling short, the tournament itself was a great success, full of the drama, quality, and controversy the World Cup thrives on.
South Africa has also achieved notable success in the Summer Olympics, showcasing its athletic prowess on the global stage. The nation's triumphs are particularly evident in track and field events, where exceptional athletes like Caster Semenya and Wayde van Niekerk have claimed gold medals and broken world records.
But we’ve also seen SA boxers win medals, and there have also been gold medals in swimming, notably for Chad le Clos who won the 200-metre butterfly, edging out all-time great Michael Phelps at London 2012, and whose father Bert promptly stole the show in his amazing (and instantly viral) post-race interview on the BBC.
In case you’re thinking of having a flutter on sports in South Africa, it’s important to know a bit about the legal status of gambling. The legality of sports betting in South Africa is governed by the National Gambling Act of 2004, which regulates bookmakers who must hold a valid licence. If you’re betting online you should see all the information prominently displayed — it goes without saying to avoid any suspect-looking sports betting sites.
Remember that sports betting is all about fun and entertainment, and you should never gamble with money you’ve not set aside for the purpose. And, although it might be painful, if you know your favourite team hasn’t got hope, bet on their opponents instead.
South Africans LOVE sport. And they also know how to make it even more exciting by placing bets on the action. Punters have no shortage of sports, betting options, and places to play — great for neutral observers and ardent fans alike.