Feature: The story of the 1962 Tour to South Africa

David Rollo is flicking through his scrapbook from the 1962 British & Irish Lions Tour of South Africa.

The memory may take a little longer to engage these days, but there is no mistaking the warm glow of recollection in the 86-year-old’s voice, nearly 60 years after the event.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my Tour,” says the former Scotland prop. “When you played for the Lions or you had your Lions blazer on, you felt on top of the world. Everyone respected who you were.”

Rollo, a full-time farmer during his rugby career, is relaying the squad’s eve-of-departure instructions before they headed off on a three-and-half-month odyssey from London on Friday 18 May, 1962.

For someone who “didn’t know much about the Lions at all, just a few bits I read in the newspaper”, the sense of anticipation must have been exquisite.

A pre-tour get-together in Eastbourne concluded with the party transported to the Washington Hotel in London’s swanky Mayfair, where relatives and friends were permitted to join them for tea at 4pm. Then it was off to South Africa House for a reception with the ambassador to London, back to the Washington for another reception with the Home Unions Tour Committee, “followed by dinner at 8pm in the Billington Room…”

And the day of departure?

“After lunch at 1pm, the coach will leave the Washington Hotel at 3.30pm to convey the party to London Airport North. It is essential the coach departs on time. Upon arrival at London Airport, the party will be conducted to a lounge where tea will be taken, and where they can be joined by any relative or friend wishing to take leave of them before departure. While refreshment is being served, it is anticipated custom and ticket formalities will be completed without need to examine individuals separately. The aircraft is due to take off at 6pm.”

A squad of 30 players – plus four replacements – played the first of 25 matches on 26 May in what was then Salisbury, in the former colony of Rhodesia, and is now Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe.

1962 Lions Tour squad

Their last game, on 28 August, was in Nairobi, Kenya, where they stopped off to play East Africa three days after a fourth and final Test against the Springboks in Bloemfontein.

‘Taking leave’ of loved ones was not the only consideration when players received a letter informing them of their selection.

Rollo was 27 at the time and ran the family farm in Fife with his elder brother. His daughter was only six months old. “I had to get permission to go from my wife and my brother,” he recalls. “Luckily all the spring crops were in by then and I was back in time for the harvest, so it wasn’t so bad.”

While Rollo had a living to return to, for others the Tour brought a marked change in circumstances.

Winger Ronnie Cowan, 80 later this year, is the youngest of the surviving Lions from the 1962 Tour. At 20 and six months, he was the youngest Scottish player ever to be picked for the tourists, a month younger than Craig Chalmers in 1989, and five months younger than Stuart Hogg in 2013.

“Financially the Tour was quite a disaster for me,” Cowan says. “I worked in the mill in Selkirk and they paid me off. They couldn’t afford for me to be away for three-and-a-half months, so seven or eight weeks before the Tour started, I found myself unemployed.

“The Scottish Rugby Union promised me they would get me something when I came back but of course that never happened.”

Indeed, Cowan never played for his country again. On his return from the Lions Tour, he followed the path trodden by his father Jimmy, and elder brother Stan, and went to rugby league, joining Leeds and forging a successful career in the 13-man code.

“It could have been the start of a long career playing for Scotland, but I was just a young lad,” he said. “Rugby league came along and offered me a career and off I went.”

Some suspected Cowan had already agreed professional terms before the Lions departed. Members of the squad were given 70 shillings a week (about £3.50) for expenses, but Rollo recounts that “Ron was the only player with spare pocket money to spend!” “Not that we needed much anyway,” he added. “Everything was laid on for us.”

Bill Mulcahy and David Rollo

The South African media dubbed Rollo ‘Tarzan’. He says he is unsure why, but his preternatural strength may have had something to do with it. At 5ft 11in and 14st 7lb, he would struggle to get a game on the wing in the current era of behemoths, yet he routinely dominated opposition props.

“At that time, I’d be standing on one leg and hooking the ball as a tighthead prop,” he said. “My forte was getting the ball against the head. I was strong enough to hold the opposition prop, even while I was standing on one leg, so the hooker could stand on both feet.

“I don’t know whether it had anything to do with my natural farm strength. I was always lugging 200lb-weight (around 90kg) bags of silage and fertilizer around, forking sheaths from the mill and manhandling cattle. You were building up your strength all the time.”

Rollo played for his club side, Howe of Fife, until he was 40, finishing his career as a number eight for the second XV. With a physique forged by farm work, he still maintained a daily fitness regime.

“I trained every night at 9.45pm, on the main road outside the farm gate,” he said. “I did eight lots of 200m, with the final two full sprints. If I could hold my breath, then I would go back in the house again. I was only out the house for 15 minutes, then back in for the 10 o’clock news. I did that seven nights a week, and never got fed up. It was the best training I did. I’ve still got a 33inch waist now!”.

My Lions Moment: Willie John McBride at 80

If his honed physique and habit of wearing his tartan kilt to official functions – the only Scot on Tour to do so – made him popular with the locals, Rollo’s tour was cruelly interrupted by injury.

He was poised for a place in the Test team alongside fellow prop and Lions legend Syd Millar – who played nine Tests across the Tours of 1959, 62 and 68, and went on to coach the 1974 Invincibles – before a rib issue intervened.

“I was first choice early on for the Saturday games with Syd but then I got injured and wasn’t available for the first two Tests,” he recalled. “We had no medical staff with us at all, and it wasn’t until I got home that I discovered I had a torn muscle around one of my ribs.

“It could have been X-rayed and we would have found out what it was. But I just had to wait until it got better. I did play later on (Rollo played 13 of the 25 matches overall) but wasn’t selected for the other Test matches. That was my big disappointment.”

1962 Tour

If seeking out a local doctor was the only option for injured players, on other occasions it was handy having a player like Irish lock Bill Mulcahy – who had completed his medical training at University College Dublin and later became a doctor for Aer Lingus – in the party.

“I remember I’d been off for a couple of games and I came back and broke my nose,” recalls Cowan. “Bill Mulcahy put the bone in my nose back into position again and I carried on playing.”

The squad was accompanied by manager Brian Vaughan, a Royal Navy Commander who won eight England caps in the late 1940s and was then the president of the RFU. His assistant Harry McKibbin, a former Ireland centre who toured with the British Isles to South Africa in 1938, held the same position with the Irish RFU.

“Brian and Harry were more like teachers really,” Cowan recalls. “Neither were anything to do with coaching.

“(Captain) Arthur Smith was the de facto coach. He would tell us backs what to do, along with (fly-half) Gordon Waddell. It was probably Bill Mulcahy and Syd Millar with the forwards – just a group of lads doing the best they could, without being coached in any way.”

That lack of coaching certainly included lineouts, which to Cowan’s mind were “a complete farce”.

“As a winger, I was throwing the ball in,” he says. “It was a lottery, frankly. It was only (Scottish number eight) John Douglas and a few of the Welsh lads in the back row who were agile enough to be able to jump properly.

“The big lads – Mike Campbell-Lamerton, Keith Rowlands, Bill Mulcahy – were heavy men; they were not built for lineout jumping, so in those days a lineout was quickly followed by a scrum. You very rarely got the ball back. You threw it in, crossed your fingers and hoped for the best.”

Smith, a winger, was the first Scot to captain the Lions since 1927. Seven other compatriots have led a British Isles or Lions Tour party, from Bill Maclagan in 1891 through to Gavin Hastings in 1993.

Most were from the square-jawed, ‘follow me’ school of leadership. It is fair to say Smith, who was tragically taken by cancer aged just 42 in 1975, was a slightly different character.

An outstanding intellectual, Smith – who scored 12 tries in 33 Tests for Scotland from 1955 to 1962 and also toured with the 55 Lions – attended both Glasgow University and Cambridge University and had a PHD in mathematics.

“Arthur could talk about lots of subjects – he ended up as an actuary – and he was a gentleman,” recalls Jim Telfer, who recently chose Smith as his right winger in an all-time greatest Scotland XV.

“The captain has to reach out and be able to bring people together and Arthur was an ideal person to do that with the Lions. I used to go to dinners with him where he was often the main speaker and he was so positive, even when he was dying. He knew his time was limited but he used to joke about it. I thought it was so brave he could talk about it like that. He was a joy to be with.”

The unassuming Smith had led Scotland to a first win in Wales since the 1930s in 1962, and also scored two tries in a thumping 20-6 victory in Dublin during that year’s Five Nations Championship.

“He was a very good winger,” Telfer recalls. “He could run at top pace but then appeared to accelerate into another speed without over-exerting himself at all. He was really a sprinter, a silken runner who would swerve in towards his opposite number and then swerve out again without looking like he was getting any faster.”

Cowan had first played alongside Smith as an 18-year-old on the first ever Scotland tour of South Africa in 1960. “I thought the world of Arthur,” he said. “He was nearly 10 years older than me and one of my heroes. I was very fortunate to play with him.

“He was a super chap and very good to everybody on that Lions Tour, but he didn’t go about telling people what they had to do or what they couldn’t do. He was just the captain of the team, but a very quiet captain. He had a very hard job out in South Africa.”

The Lions lost their principal playmaker, the England stand-off Richard Sharp, to a broken jaw sustained in a tackle by Springboks wing Mannetjies Roux in a first defeat of the Tour against Northern Transvaal, a week before the first Test.

Sharp didn’t return until the latter part of the Tour, and only played in the final two Tests.

Life of a Lion: Dewi Bebb

“We really missed Richard,” said Cowan. “He was the one who was going to be running with the ball at the South Africans, whereas Gordon Waddell [the Scot who replaced Sharp at fly-half in the Test team] was more of a kicker. I was hoping to play with Richard; I’d played with him with the Barbarians and he was a wonderful runner who looked after his backs whereas Gordon, as good as he was, just seemed to kick the ball all the time, which didn’t suit my style of rugby.”

If Waddell’s tactics didn’t always meet with the approval of his outside backs, off the field he enjoyed a life-changing encounter when he met his future wife, Mary Oppenheimer – the daughter of one of South Africa’s leading businessmen Harry Oppenheimer, whose empire included the world renowned De Beers diamond company.

Waddell would return to South Africa to marry Miss Oppenheimer and forge a successful business career in the country before entering politics and winning election to the South African parliament in 1974 for the Progressive Party, which opposed the ruling National Party’s policies of apartheid.

In 1962 he had helped the Lions secure a 3-3 draw in their first encounter with the Springboks, Welsh centre Ken Jones scoring a try in front of 73,000 fans at Johannesburg’s Ellis Park.

But a 3-0 defeat in the second Test in Durban – via a lone penalty from South Africa fly-half Keith Oxlee – put the tourists on the back foot, and they succumbed 8-3 in the third Test in Cape Town.

With another defeat went the series, but the match was not without significance. It proved to be the first of a record 17 Tests in the famous red jersey for a young Willie John McBride.

“Willie John was 22 on that Tour,” Cowan recalls. “The world was his oyster. He got into the Test team later in the series, like me. There were a lot of more experienced players than him, but he was good, even then.

“By the time he went on the ’74 Tour, he knew everything about rugby, and touring, and looking after people. He had all that experience behind him.”

With captain Smith picking up an injury that ruled him out of the final Test, Cowan was drafted onto the wing for what was his final game of rugby union, at Bloemfontein’s Free State Stadium.

“It was fantastic,” he said. “Nobody can ever take that away from me. I was up against Mannetjies Roux, who was a very good player.”

Cowan scored the second of the Lions’ three tries, with fellow Scot Campbell-Lamerton – who would go on to skipper the 1966 Lions – grabbing their opener. But in a match out of keeping with the rest of a tight series, the Springboks ran in six tries to run out 34-14 winners and take the series 3-0.

“We were fairly well beaten in that one,” Cowan added. “It was the end of the Tour basically. We had been away a long time. I was OK, I was just a 20-year-old, but there were a lot of players who were married and some of their wives had children while they were away. A lot of them were very keen to get home with a month still to go. They had been away from their wives and children far too long.”

If it was a relief for some to finally head home, for others the adventure remains seared on the memory, the experience of a lifetime.

“I could have stayed out there a while longer,” quips Rollo. “I would do it again every month if I had the chance.”

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Lions versus springboks: the history of the british and irish lions in south africa.

Anyone can contribute to The Roar and have their work featured alongside some of Australia’s most prominent sports journalists.

With the British and Irish Lions due to tour South Africa in June of this year, I thought it would be a good time to take a brief look into the history of Lions tours to South Africa.

The Lions and South African rugby have been inextricably linked since rugby first became a sport in South Africa. The Lions also tour New Zealand and Australia but here I will concentrate on their tours to South Africa.

The South Africa Rugby Board (later Union) was first formed in 1889 and it quickly set about sending out an invitation for a European team to tour their country. A team made up of players from England and Scotland had toured New Zealand in 1888 and it was thought that a similar tour would help popularise the game of rugby in South Africa. The invite was accepted and the tour was arranged to take place in 1891.

These proto-Lions (although not technically a British and Irish Lions squad these teams have been subsequently included in every official history of the Lions) were the first international side to play rugby matches in South Africa and the three-match Test series was the first Test series played by the Lions, and the first ever international rugby matches played by South Africa.

Although the Lions were not made up of the best players around at that time (the Lions always had difficulty in terms of selection due to many players declining the invitation to travel due to financial and family constraints), with only nine full caps among the 20 players selected, with two players winning further caps, they still proved too strong for the South African players, who in 20 games only scored a single point against the visitors. The Lions finished the tour with 20 wins from 20 games, including the three-Test series against South Africa. Amazingly, those 20 games were played over a time span of only 30 days!

The star for the Lions was giant centre Randolph Aston, who scored 30 tries on tour (although a try at the time was only worth one point). Before setting sail, tour captain Bill McGlagan was presented with a trophy by a shipping magnet. This trophy was to be presented to the team that achieved the best result against the Lions on tour. The shipping magnet was Sir Donald Currie and the trophy became known as the Currie Cup, which is competed for by the South African provinces every year. The 1891 winners of the Cup were Griqualand West, who had conceded the lowest points of the teams playing against the Lions, losing 3-0.

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When Jonny Hammond returned to South Africa with the Lions in 1896, this time as captain, he would have been amazed by the improvements made in rugby in the country in the interim five years. The Lions still won 19 of the 21 games played on tour, but they also conceded the first ever defeat by a Lions team. This was in the third Test against South Africa. This game was also the first international won by South Africa, and also the first match in which South Africa would wear their iconic dark green jerseys.

The South African captain was ‘Fergie’ Aston, the younger brother of Randolph Aston, who had been the top try scorer for the Lions on the previous tour. The 1896 Lions side was made up of players from England and Ireland this time. They weren’t to know that they would be the last Lions team to win a series in South Africa until 1974!

Jonny Hammond made another journey to South Africa with the Lions, in 1903, this time as coach. By now, South Africa were no longer the pupils and the Lions found the rugby much harder going. Of the 22 games played by the Lions, they won only 11, with eight defeats and three games drawn. They also conceded the Test series for the first time, with South Africa winning one Test and drawing the others.

There was quite a uniquely Scottish feel to the first Test. Not only was the Lions captain Mark Morrison a Scotsman, but so was the South African captain Alex Frew, who had actually played under Morrison when Scotland won the four Nations in 1901, before he emigrated to South Africa. And for the treble, the referee himself – Bill Donaldson – was also Scottish!

Generic vintage rugby league or rugby union ball

(Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Before the Lions were next to tour, in 1910, South Africa embarked on their first ever tour of Europe. This was the tour where they would first tog out with the iconic Springbok emblem on their jerseys. South Africa played 29 games on this tour, winning 26, with two lost and one drawn. They played all five Nations on tour, beating Ireland, Wales and France, losing to Scotland and drawing with England.

The Lions team that toured South Africa in 1910 was the strongest Lions selection yet, featuring a number of full internationals from Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. The Lions also had an Australian in their ranks, the multi-talented Tom Richards, whose name has entered immortality, as the trophy awarded in the Lions series against Australia is named after him. Richards is the only man to ever play international rugby for both Australia and the Lions. Despite the calibre of their side, the 1910 Lions still lost the Test series, 3-1. Overall, the Lions played 24 matches, winning 13, drawing three and losing eight.

The 1910 tour would be the last Lions tour before the first World War broke out in 1914. Several rugby players from around the world would serve with distinction in this terrible conflict.

The Lions next tour would be to South Africa, in 1924. This would be the first tour given the official title of the British Isles Rugby Union Team. They would soon be christened ‘the Lions’ by the press. Unfortunately these players would fail to live up to their moniker as they would be the first Lions team that would win less games than they lost or drew. Out of 21 games played, the Lions won nine, lost nine and drew three. The Lions faced the usual problems of being underrepresented and the South Africans simply being too good.

One player that declined the invitation to tour was Scottish wing, Eric Liddell. Liddell instead competed in that year’s Olympic Games, where he would win medals and his story would later be immortalised in the great film, Chariots Of Fire . A player that did tour was Stanley Harris. This amazing man was born in South Africa but raised in England. He achieved international status in five different sports. He had been offered a place on the 1920 Olympics team but chose rugby instead.

Olympic flag

(Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)

Returning to South Africa he became the country’s light heavyweight boxing champion and the runner up in the heavyweight division. While injured in a rugby trial back in England, he took up ballroom dancing and won a medal in the World Amateur Championships. Returning to rugby, he played in 15 games on the 1924 Lions tour, including two Tests. He was also an international at tennis and water polo. And he also fought in both World Wars with distinction and was later awarded an OBE and CBE.

The Lions last tour before World War two was in 1938, again to South Africa. The South African team they faced would have a legitimate claim to being the best team in the world, having beaten New Zealand and Australia the previous year on tour. The Lions were again weakened by several of the top players of the time declaring themselves unavailable. Of the 29 that toured, only 18 had achieved full cap status. Despite this, the Lions still managed to win 17 of the 24 games played, including a win in the last Test, but they would again concede the Test series.

This win was the first in a Lions Test against South Africa since 1910. It was also the first win for the Lions in six Tests overall. The Lions won the first Test, 21-16, which was their biggest score achieved against the Springboks up to that point. The win came as such a surprise that when it was reported back in Europe, many thought the result a mistake and printed it as a win for South Africa! Playing against the Lions in the Test series was the great Danie Craven, who would go on to be one of the most important figures in the history of South African rugby.

The Lions next toured South Africa in 1955. They would be the first Lions squad to travel by air and would achieve the distinction by drawing the series, the best result by a Lions team since before 1900. It was also the first home series that South Africa failed to win in that same period. The Lions included some of the greats of world rugby, like Cliff Morgan and the very young Irish wing Tony O’Reilly. O’Reilly had just left school when chosen to go on tour. He would more than prove his selection by becoming the Lions top ever try scorer and would play in the next ten consecutive Tests for the Lions, over two tours.

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Cliff Morgan was one of the best scrumhalves of any time and also an accomplished singer. While journeying to South Africa, he taught his teammates songs in English, Welsh and even Afrikaaner. After touching down in South Africa, the Lions gave an impromptu singing performance and the South African press lauded them as the best Lions squad to ever tour South Africa. And this was before they had played a single game! The Test series was one of the most hard fought in history, with the first Test being won by a single point. This Test match was played in front of a then-record crowd of 95,000. The 1955 Lions would draw the Test series, with two wins and two defeats.

The Lions again toured South Africa in 1962. The ’60s would prove to be a very difficult time for the Lions. That decade, the Lions played 14 Tests overall, and won only two, against Australia. The Lions would lose ten of the remaining Tests and draw two. While they did lose the series, the 1962 Lions did achieve some good results, winning 15 of the 26 games played, losing five and drawing four. The highest loss against them was in the last Test, where South Africa won 34-14. Captain of the tour was Arthur Smith, who would achieve somewhat greater success as manager of the iconic 1971 Lions in New Zealand.

Another player on tour was the young Irish second row, Willie John McBride. This was the first the Lions would see of the legendary Irishman, but certainly not the last. McBride would go on to tour with the Lions a record-equalling five times in all and achieve a Test record of 17 caps, a record that will never be beaten.

McBride was among the Lions players to next tour South Africa, in 1968. Also included in the squad was the mercurial Scottish flanker Jim Telfer, who would return to South Africa with the Lions 29 years later as assistant coach. Two of the halfbacks selected were Barry John and Gareth Edwards. The two iconic Welshmen were unable have much influence on this Test series, both being injured early in the tour, but they would make their mark on the Lions on subsequent tours. Captain of the tour was the Irishman Tom Kiernan, who kicked the majority of the Lions points in the Test series. The solitary try came from Willie John McBride.

A general view of a lineout at sunset

(Photo by Richard Heathcote – World Rugby via Getty Images)

Two Lions would go on to make rugby history on the 1968 tour. Irishman Barry Bresnihan became the first replacement used by the Lions in a match when he came on for an injured Mike Gibson early in the tour. And Gibson would recover to become the first replacement used in an international rugby match when he came on for Barry John in the first Test.

The next time the Lions toured South Africa was in 1974 and these Lions have gone down in history as the most successful rugby touring team in modern history, known forever more as ‘the Invincibles’. Playing 22 games, they won 21 and drew the last, which was the last Test. They accumulated a massive 729 points and inflicted on South Africa their first home series defeat since 1896.

A number of the ’74 Lions had taken part in the historic Lions series win against the All Blacks in 1971 and would go on to be recognised as some of the greatest rugby players ever. JPR Williams, Gareth Edwards, Mervyn Davies, McBride, Gordon Brown and Ian ‘Mighty Mouse’ McLauchlan played in the Test series on both tours. They were ably assisted in the series against South Africa by Welsh flyer JJ Williams, the incomparable Phil Bennett at scrumhalf, Irish flanker Fergus Slattery (who had toured in ’71 but not appeared in the Test series) and the great Bobby Windsor at hooker.

Two other players that played a main part in the Test series were English prop Fran Cotton and Scottish centre Ian McGeechan. Both would return with the Lions to South Africa 24 years later. Like many recent tours to South Africa, the 1974 Lions were threatened with boycott with many believing all ties should be cut with South Africa due to the hateful apartheid regime. Two Lions that had toured in 1968, John Taylor and Gerald Davies, refused to tour in 1974. On the other hand, there were some who believed that the Lions should tour and see for themselves the terrible effects of apartheid.

The Lions were celebrated by the black South Africans wherever they played, and the Lions would often acknowledge the support they received in the segregated stadiums. The black South Africans saw the Lions’ victories as blows to the apartheid regime as the South African rugby team at the time was seen as an almost physical manifestation of apartheid. Nelson Mandela subsequently talked about how he and his fellow prisoners would cheer on the Lions while incarcerated on Robben Island, much to the annoyance of their Afrikaners guards, listening to the games on the wireless.

The 1980 Lions faced similar outcry to their touring from governments and anti-apartheid protestors, but these objections were somewhat muted due to the US boycott of the Moscow Summer Olympics that same year. English second row Bill Beaumont, who had led England to their first Grand Slam since 1957 earlier that year, was captain.

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont and vice-chairman Agustin Pichot

Bill Beaumont (left) has gone on to a career in administration. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

The Lions had a great record in the provincial games, winning all, but came undone in the Test series, losing three and winning only one. Their final record of playing 18, winning 15 and losing three was very good, all things considered. The shorter number of games was testament to how tough the Lions tours had become.

Two South Africans who played a part in the Springboks’ Test win were scrumhalf Naas Botha, who would go on to be recognised as one of the game’s best kickers, and Morne du Plessis, who would go on to manage South Africa to their first World Cup victory 15 years later.

The Lions were next to tour South Africa in 1986, but gave in to international pressure and cancelled the tour. There were two matches held that year in which South African players were invited to attend: the Lions against the Rest of the World and a Five Nations team versus a World XV. The games were held to celebrate the centenary of the founding of the International Rugby Board.

South Africa was now cut off from the rest of the rugby-playing world, although a team from New Zealand did accept money to take part in a clandestine tour of the country, much to the annoyance and disgust of their citizens. This tour was never recognised officially. Then the first World Cup was held in 1987, and South Africa really felt its isolation from world rugby. There were some around the world who asked whether the World Cup could be considered a true international competition with the absence of one of rugby’s heavyweights.

Then things changed for the better in South Africa. Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990 and would later be elected president of South Africa in 1994, and the apartheid regime was dismantled.

Joost van der Westhuizen passes the ball

Joost van der Westhuizen at the 1995 World Cup. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

South Africa was welcomed back to international rugby and hosted the third World Cup in 1995, which they subsequently won, with the iconic picture of South African president Mandela handing the trophy to captain Francois Pienaar. South Africa now got ready to welcome the Lions for the first time in 17 years.

The 1997 Lions would take their place as one of the top Lions teams. The team contained some future legends of the game. Martin Johnson was captain, and he would lead England to their first and only World Cup title six years later. He had fellow future World Cup winner Lawrence Dallaglio in the back row. There was also Irish hooker Keith Wood. At centre were the robust Scott Gibbs, one of several players returning from rugby league, and the sublime Jeremy Guscott, who kicked the winning drop goal to clinch the series in the second Test. Playing out of position at fullback was Welshman Neil Jenkins, who would kick most of the Lions’ points.

South Africa were in a transitional period when the Lions visited. They were without their inspirational captain and coach, Francois Pienaar and Kitch Christie, who had both played such an important role in the Springboks lifting the World Cup in 1995.

Although fielding a strong side against the Lions, including the brilliant Joost van der Westhuizen and the giant prop Os du Randt, who would win a further World Cup medal in 2007, they were without a recognised goal-kicker in the series. Although Percy Montgomery made his debut in the series and would go on to be one of the most prolific points scorers in World Rugby, he was not at that stage in his career yet. The Springboks restored some pride in winning the last Test, 35-16, but by then the series was lost.

The 2000s were a difficult time for the Lions. They won the first Test in 2001 against Australia. On a very small note, this is the first tour in which the Lions were first referred to officially as the British and Irish Lions. Before, they were simply the British Lions. But they would go on to lose that series 2-1, and then the Lions were clean-swept by New Zealand in the Test series in 2005.

When the Lions touched down in South Africa in 2009, they seemed to have the future of the brand in their hands. Many rugby people were questioning the need for continuing the Lions tours in the professional era, and another damaging defeat would be seen as the the nail in the coffin for the Lions concept. Although losing a hard-fought series 2-1, the ’09 Lions restored some much needed pride to the badge, giving their all and winning the last Test, against a South African team that were once again world champions in 2007.

The Lions return to South Africa in 2021 with Alun Wyn-Jones as captain. He’s the only survivor of the 2009 Lions team.

Alun Wyn Jones of the British & Irish Lions

(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

He leads a Lions squad full of terrific players who are scheduled to take on five clubs and a South African team that are once again world champions, having won their third World Cup in 2019. It’s sure to be a wonderful Test series and will take its place among the great tours of the last 130 years.

The Lions are a unique sport in rugby country. The idea that players from four different countries, that spend most of their time battling lumps out of each other, can come together under one badge and unite is a wonderful thing. As long as there is rugby played, it is hoped that the British and Irish Lions will continue.

I gained my of my information in writing this article from two wonderful books on the Lions. The first is the marvellous The History Of the British and Irish Lions , by Clem and Greg Thomas, which covers each Lions tour in exhaustive detail.

The second book is Behind the Lions , which has a brief summary of each tour and the thoughts and opinions of those players and management that took part.

I also gained some great insights from the terrific Rugby’s Most Bizarre Moments  by John Griffiths, which provides some fascinating and often hilarious occurrences, which have taken place in rugby matches over the years, from 1871 up to now. All three are wonderful reads and I highly recommend them.

Join The Roar rugby editor Christy Doran, former Wallaby Matt Toomua and a cast of regular and special guests as they look at the biggest issues in the game on The Roar Rugby Podcast .  If you’re looking for great odds on the next game check out Aussie bookmaker PlayUp .  Chances are you’re about to lose.  Set a deposit limit.

British & Irish Lions: The South Africa Tour explained

  • British and Irish Lions
  • Monday 21 June 2021 at 5:59pm

what years did the british lions tour south africa

The British & Irish Lions are currently in Jersey for a training camp to prepare for their summer tour in South Africa.

At the end of their training camp, the Lions will fly to Edinburgh where they will play Japan in a pre-tour warm up match at Murrayfield, before heading to Johannesburg to commence their six-week campaign - culminating in a test clash against the Springboks.

The full tour will be played in the province of Gauteng, to reduce the need for travel for the squad and to minimise the risk of disruption due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Who are the British & Irish Lions?

The British & Irish Lions brings together the best players from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The iconic red jersey is one of the most recognisable in global sport.

Warren Gatland has picked this year's squad, having been named head coach of a Lions tour for the third consecutive time.

A full rundown of the players training in Jersey is available to view here .

What is the South Africa Tour?

The Lions take on a tour every four years, on a rotation between Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. They are fiercely contested and are known for producing some of the most memorable moments in international rugby.

The tours sees them face some of the giants of world rugby in a test-match format. Often the lead up to this is preceded by matches against some of the host country's biggest clubs.

Most recently, the Lions toured in New Zealand in 2017. After defeat in their opening test against the All Blacks, Gatland's side fought back to secure a win in the second match. Ultimately, the close-fought battle ended in a draw as the final test ended 15-15.

Who will the Lions play?

Warren Gatland's side will come up against one of the sport's true heavyweights. The reigning world champions, the Springboks - South Africa's national team- and they are currently the top side in world rugby. Of the 46 times they have played against the Lions, they have taken wins in half of those games.

There will be three test matches between the sides:

First test: Springboks v British & Irish Lions (Saturday 24 July, Cape Town

Second test: Springboks v British & Irish Lions (Saturday 31 July, Johannesburg)

Third test: Springboks v British & Irish Lions (Sunday 8 August, Johannesburg)

In the run up to the test matches, the Lions will also face off against other teams from across South Africa.

Emirates Lions v British & Irish Lions (Saturday 3 July, Johannesburg)

Cell C Sharks v British & Irish Lions (Wednesday 7 July, Johannesburg)

Vodacom Bulls v British & Irish Lions (Saturday 10 July, Pretoria)

South Africa ‘A’ v British & Irish Lions (Wednesday 14 July, Cape Town)

DHL Stormers v British & Irish Lions  (Saturday 17 July, Cape Town)

Will the matches be played in front of fans?

It is not yet clear if coronavirus restrictions will allow fans to attend the matches. Currently, it is planned that the games will take place behind closed doors.

Covid-secure bubbles will be in place to protect both teams and their staff during the tour. The Lions have answers to some frequently asked questions on their website for those who may have already made bookings for the fixtures.

1938 British Lions tour to South Africa

British's and irish's official eleventh tour / from wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, dear wikiwand ai, let's keep it short by simply answering these key questions:.

Can you list the top facts and stats about 1938 British Lions tour to South Africa?

Summarize this article for a 10 year old

The 1938 British Isles tour to South Africa was the fourteenth tour by a British Isles team and the sixth to South Africa. The tour is retrospectively classed as one of the British Lions tours, as the Lions naming convention was not adopted until 1950.

The tour party was led by Ireland's Sam Walker and managed by Col. Hartley, and took in 24 matches. Of the 24 games, 19 were against club or invitational teams, three were test matches against the South African national team and the other two games were outside South Africa against Rhodesia . The British Isles lost two and won one of the test matches, and in the non-test games lost five and won sixteen.

Like many of the early Lions parties, the tour did not represent the best of British and Irish rugby talent. Obvious omissions included Wilf Wooller and Cliff Jones .

1974 British Lions tour to South Africa

In 1974, the British & Irish Lions toured South Africa, with matches in South West Africa and Rhodesia . Under the leadership of Willie John McBride , the Lions went through the tour undefeated, winning 21 of their 22 matches and being held to a draw in the final match, albeit in controversial circumstances. The 1974 squad became known as 'The Invincibles' and regarded as the greatest rugby tour in history. [1]

Apartheid backdrop and controversy

The 99 call, results summary, test matches, second test, fourth test, bibliography, external links.

The Lions tour took place against the backdrop of widespread condemnation of the apartheid regime. Under pressure from other African nations, the International Olympic Committee had excluded South Africa from competing in the Summer Games since 1964, and there had also been protests against visiting sporting teams from South Africa.

Several rugby players, like Welsh flanker John Taylor , took a stand against apartheid by making themselves unavailable for squad selection. [2] Gerald Davies declined the tour on his personal uncomfortable position at the consequences and realities of apartheid . [3] [4]

By November 1973, the United Nations had declared apartheid "a crime against humanity " [5] and in November 1974 South Africa was suspended from participating in the General Assembly. [6]

The Lions made one more tour during Apartheid (in 1980), and did not tour South Africa again until 1997 .

The test series was beset by violence. The management of the Lions unilaterally declared that in their opinion the Springboks dominated their opponents with physical aggression because of their famous size advantage, 'off the ball' and 'blind side' play. In the buildup games, and in McBride's previous tours of South Africa, provincial sides had tended to use their physical size, late tackling and dirty play to deliberately intimidate and injure Lions players prior to Test matches. McBride again saw this tactic of targeting certain players being used by the provinces in 1974, and decided that the ' 99 call ' (originally the '999 call' but it was too slow to shout out) was meant to show that the Lions were a team and would not take any more of the violence being meted out to them. It was intended to show that the Lions would act as one and fight unsporting behaviour with more of the same. The idea was that the referee would be unlikely to send off all of the Lions if they all attacked.

At the 'Battle of Boet Erasmus Stadium ', in Port Elizabeth , one of the most violent matches in rugby history, there is famous video footage of JPR Williams running over half the length of the pitch to launch himself at Moaner van Heerden after such a call. According to McBride, the 99 call was only used once, as it sent out the message that the Lions were willing and more than able to respond in kind and protect themselves.

  • Manager: Alun Thomas (Wales)
  • Coach: Syd Millar (Ireland)
  • J.P.R. Williams ( London Welsh and Wales)
  • Andy Irvine ( Heriot's FP and Scotland)
  • Tom Grace ( St Mary's College RFC and Ireland)
  • J.J. Williams ( Llanelli and Wales)
  • William Steele ( Bedford and R.A.F. and Scotland)
  • Clive Rees ( London Welsh and Wales)
  • Alan Morley ( Bristol and England) as replacement
  • Richard Milliken (Bangor and Ireland)
  • Ian McGeechan ( Headingley and Scotland)
  • Roy Bergiers ( Llanelli and Wales)
  • Geoff Evans ( Coventry and England)
  • Phil Bennett ( Llanelli and Wales)
  • Alan Old ( Leicester and England)
  • Mike Gibson ( North of Ireland FC and Ireland) as replacement


  • Gareth Edwards ( Cardiff and Wales)
  • John Moloney ( St. Mary's College and Ireland)
  • Bobby Windsor ( Pontypool and Wales)
  • Ken Kennedy ( London Irish and Ireland)
  • Ian McLauchlan ( Jordanhill College RFC and Scotland)
  • Sandy Carmichael ( West of Scotland and Scotland)
  • Fran Cotton (Coventry and England)
  • Mike Burton ( Gloucester and England)
  • Willie John McBride (capt) ( Ballymena and Ireland)
  • Chris Ralston ( Richmond and England)
  • Gordon Brown ( West of Scotland and Scotland)
  • Roger Uttley ( Gosforth and England)

Loose forwards

  • Fergus Slattery ( Blackrock College and Ireland)
  • Stewart McKinney ( Dungannon and Ireland)
  • Tommy David ( Llanelli and Wales)
  • Tony Neary (Broughton Park and England)
  • Andy Ripley ( Rosslyn Park and England)
  • Mervyn Davies ( Swansea and Wales)

In muddy conditions at Newlands, the Lions took a while to settle, conceding the lead for the first time on the tour before steadying to win the opening Test comfortably. [7]

South Africa : Ian McCallum, Chris Pope, Johan Oosthuizen, Peter Whipp, Gert Muller, Dawie Snyman, Roy McCallum, Morne du Plessis, Jan Ellis, Jan Boland Coetzee, John Williams, Kevin de Klerk, Hannes Marais (c), Piston van Wyk, Sakkie Sauerman

Lions : JPR Williams, Steele, Milliken, McGeechan, JJ Williams, Bennett, Edwards, Davies, Uttley, Slattery, Brown, McBride (c), Cotton, Windsor, McLauchlan

The Lions went in at half-time with a 10–3 advantage, thanks to two tries from J. J. Williams. The lead was reduced to 10–6 when Bosch scored a penalty early in the second half, but that was as close as the Springboks came. Thereafter the Lions took control, with tries to Bennett, Brown and Milliken. [8] It was up to that point the heaviest defeat in Springbok history. [9]

South Africa : Ian McCallum (replaced Snyman, replaced Vogel), Chris Pope, Jackie Snyman, Peter Whipp, Gerrie Germishuys , Gerald Bosch, Paul Bayvel , Dugald MacDonald , Jan Ellis , Morne du Plessis , John Williams, Kevin de Klerk, Hannes Marais (c), Dave Frederickson, Nic Bezuidenhoudt

Lions : J. P. R. Williams , Steele, Milliken, McGeechan, JJ Williams, Bennett, Edwards, Davies, Uttley, Slattery, Brown, McBride (c), Cotton , Windsor, McLauchlan

Following the humiliation of Pretoria, the Springbok selectors made drastic changes, keeping only five players from the previous match in the starting line-up. One of the most bizarre changes, however, involved bringing in Free State loose forward Gerrie Sonnekus to play out of position at scrumhalf, [10] a move which had disastrous consequences. In the opening half-hour, the Springboks produced their best rugby of the series so far, and the desperation with which they played prompted Lions centre Dick Milliken to reflect years later that he had "never experienced such intensity on a rugby pitch". [11] Much like the earlier match against Eastern Province at the same venue, [12] the occasion was marred by outbreaks of violence, such that the match has since been dubbed the 'Battle of Boet Erasmus'. The brawling was probably fueled by the win-at-all-costs mentality with which the Springboks were playing, as well as the resolution of the Lions players not to be cowed by their opponents' famed physicality. Despite the Springboks having the better of most of the first half, they still went into the main break down 7–3 after Gordon Brown snatched the ball from a lineout and crashed over the line in injury time.

After the initial onslaught, the Lions regrouped and as the Springboks began to tire, they took complete control in the second half. As the forwards began to assert themselves, the backs were able to launch attack after attack on the Springbok line. Winger J. J. Williams scored two superb tries; the first came from a brilliant one-two pass combination with J. P. R. Williams, and the second was the result of a brilliant kick-and-chase. [13]

At the end of the match, Lions captain McBride was carried off on the shoulders of Bobby Windsor and Gordon Brown. It was the first time since 1896 that the British Isles had won a series in South Africa, and the first time since 1910 that a touring side had beaten the Springboks at Boet Erasmus stadium. Danie Craven , the president of the South African Rugby Board, congratulated the Lions on their historic achievement, acknowledging that the visitors had indeed been "the better team". [13]

South Africa : 15 Tonie Roux, 14 Chris Pope, 13 Peter Cronje, 12 Jan Schlebusch, 11 Gert Muller, 10 Jackie Snyman, 9 Gerrie Sonnekus, 8 Klippies Kritzinger, 7 Jan Ellis, 6 Polla Fourie, 5 Johan de Bruyn, 4 Moaner van Heerden (replaced by De Klerk), 3 Hannes Marais (c), 2 Piston van Wyk, 1 Nic Bezuidenhoudt; Replacements: 16 Kevin de Klerk, 17 Malcolm Swanby, 18 Gavin Cowley, 19 Gert Schutte, 20 Andre Bestbier, 21 Rampie Stander

Lions : 15 J. P. R. Williams, 14 Andy Irvine, 13 Ian McGeechan, 12 Dick Milliken, 11 J. J. Williams, 10 Phil Bennett, 9 Gareth Edwards, 8 Mervyn Davies, 7 Fergus Slattery, 6 Roger Uttley, 5 Willie John McBride (c), 4 Gordon Brown, 3 Fran Cotton, 2 Bobby Windsor, 1 Ian McLauchlan; Replacements: 16 Mike Gibson, 17 Billy Steele, 18 John Moloney, 19 Ken Kennedy, 20 Sandy Carmichael, 21 Tony Neary

After winning the first three test matches, the Lions drew the final test in controversial circumstances. In the dying minutes, Irish flanker Fergus Slattery broke through the South African line and appeared to successfully ground the ball, only for the (South African) referee to adjudge it held up; the Lions couldn't believe it, and Slattery himself later stated to the British newspapers that even the South African players thought that he had scored a legitimate try. Moreover, the referee blew the final whistle four minutes early with the Lions still just two metres from the South African try line, thus preserving their unbeaten record, but denying them a tour whitewash. When asked about the decision afterward, the referee was said to have replied: "Look boys, I have to live here". [1] JPR Williams later recalled that he struggled to understand the elation that South Africans felt in drawing the match. [10]

South Africa : Tonie Roux, Chris Pope, Peter Cronje, Jan Schlebusch, Gert Muller, Jackie Snyman, Paul Bayvel, Kleintjie Grobler, Jan Ellis, Klippies Kritzinger, John Williams, Moaner van Heerden, Hannes Marais (c), Piston van Wyk, Nic Bezuidenhoudt (replaced by Stander)

Lions : J. P. R. Williams, Irvine, McGeechan, Milliken, J. J. Williams, Bennett, Edwards, Davies, Uttley, Slattery, Ralston, McBride (c), Cotton, Windsor, McLauchlan

The Lions previous series in South Africa had all been losses, apart from the drawn 1955 series.

South Africa had not lost a home Test series since 1958 against France. In their most recent internationals they had won series against NZ at home in 1970 and against Australia away in 1971. They won their subsequent series, against NZ at home, in 1976.

However, they had not played a test match for two years before playing the Lions. [14]

Danie Craven said the 1974 Lions were "the greatest team to visit South Africa".

Many of the players who also played on the victorious 1971 Lions tour to New Zealand believe the 1974 Lions team would have beaten the 1971 Lions team, due to having better forwards and because many of the 1971 players had become better players by 1974. [15] J.P.R. Williams has said that whilst the 1971 Lions back division could not be bettered, the 1974 squad was better at winning games. [16]

  • Jenkins, Vivian (1975). Rothmans Rugby Yearbook 1975–76 . Brickfield Publications. ISBN   0-362-00221-5 .
  • Reason, John (1974). The unbeaten Lions: The 1974 British Isles Rugby Union tour of South Africa . Rugby Books. p.   258. ISBN   9780903194020 .
  • Thomas, J. B. G. (1974). The greatest Lions   : the story of the British Lions tour of South Africa, 1974 . London: Pelham. p.   175. ISBN   0720707862 .

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  • 1 2 Mitchell, Kevin (3 May 2009). "The Lion kings" . The Guardian . Retrieved 7 July 2019 .
  • ↑ Taylor, John (11 July 2014). "Lions and the fight against apartheid" . ESPN.
  • ↑ Bills, Peter (17 July 2008). "Gerald Davies on the adventure of the Lions" . The Independent . London. Archived from the original on 1 May 2022 . Retrieved 3 May 2010 .
  • ↑ Live, North Wales (16 May 2009). "Gerald Davies: A Lion's Tale" . North Wales Live .
  • ↑ "International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. Adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 30 November 1973" (PDF) .
  • ↑ Teltsch, Kathleen (13 November 1974). "South Africa Is Suspended By U.N. Assembly, 91‐22" . The New York Times . Retrieved 7 July 2019 .
  • ↑ "Springboks promise a different result on Pretoria's hard ground" . The Times . No.   59111. Reuters . 10 June 1974. p.   11 . Retrieved 8 July 2019 .
  • ↑ Jenkins, Vivian (23 June 1974). "South Africa handed beating of all time" . The Sunday Times . No.   7880. p.   21 . Retrieved 8 July 2019 .
  • ↑ "South Africans rake over ashes of heaviest defeat" . The Times . Reuters . 24 June 1974. p.   9 . Retrieved 8 July 2019 .
  • 1 2 Dolan, Damian (15 May 2009). "JPR Williams remembers the call of 99" . The Independent . Archived from the original on 1 May 2022 . Retrieved 7 July 2019 .
  • ↑ Barclay, Tristan (13 July 1974). "Lions victorious in Battle of Boet Erasmus" . ESPN . Retrieved 7 July 2019 .
  • ↑ "Kicking and punching mar Lions' brilliant victory" . The Times . No.   59099. Reuters. 27 May 1974. p.   9 . Retrieved 7 July 2019 .
  • 1 2 "British Lions accepted as kings" . The Times . No.   59139. Reuters. 15 July 1974. p.   7 . Retrieved 7 July 2019 .
  • ↑ O’Reilly, Peter. "Dick Milliken: The Springboks were physical and frightening – but they believed we were invincible" – via www.thetimes.co.uk.
  • ↑ Willie John McBride , Ian McLauchlan , Ian McGeechen , Fergus Slattery , Chapter 24, Undefeated, Rhodri Davies
  • ↑ Orders, Mark (4 March 2019). "The life of JPR at 70, a Welsh rugby great who was different from the rest" . Wales Online .
  • 1974 British Lions tour to South Africa at Lions Rugby
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Andy Irvine, a supreme sporting hero, playing for Scotland against England at Murrayfield in 1974.

Rugby’s rulers ignore the game’s marvellous heritage at their peril

The sport’s appeal is not just the shiny and new. It is also about tradition, fellowship and memories forged on small stages

S ome of us went back in time at the weekend. There was no Doctor Who-style Tardis involved, just an easyJet flight (beware their petty hand luggage regulations) to Scotland for a reunion of old student friends. It was good fun and, certain hairlines aside, reassuring to find out how little people had changed in the 40-odd years since we first encountered each other in the stylish salons – OK, the saloon bars and Spud-U-Like shops – of Edinburgh in the 1980s.

And because it was a lovely afternoon on Saturday and we fancied reminding ourselves of our former athletic selves, a few of us decided to wander up the road and take in a game of club rugby. Heriot’s v Watsonians playing in – checks notes – the FOSROC Super Series Sprint. Sitting behind the posts at Goldenacre, with the sun shining and Edinburgh’s ancient skyline shimmering in the distance, the evocative old venue really did seem appropriately named. We all enjoyed the day immensely.

As it happened, the Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend was also there, watching his 22-year-old son Christian playing at full-back for Heriot’s. And when we piled into the clubroom for a mutton pie – £2, don’t examine the filling too closely – it was impossible to miss the large number of framed photographs of ex-Scotland internationalists hanging on the wall. You know you’re getting older when faces of a vaguely similar vintage are now dripping in sepia.

By sheer coincidence, one of our number found himself staring up at a picture of his own grandfather. Back in the day Dan Drysdale was one of the foremost full-backs of his era, a stand-out player both for Scotland and the British & Irish Lions. The late Clem Thomas, in his History of the British Lions, described Drysdale as having “played marvellously throughout as a running full-back” during the 1924 tour to South Africa. The following year, in 1925, he was a similarly key member of the first Scotland side in history to secure a grand slam.

Almost exactly a century later, it felt a timely moment to pay our respects to the fabled legend. Just as it did, a little further along the row of pictures, to touch the (vanished) forelock in tribute to another brilliant local full-back. Even in faraway rural England, some of us saw Andy Irvine as a supreme sporting hero, his constant can-do enthusiasm for counter-attacking among the global game’s most glorious sights. It reached the point where my adolescent mind started to wonder if “Heriot’s FP” stood for “Fabulous Players” rather than “Former Pupils”.

Watsonians players regather behind the posts following a Heriot’s try at Goldenacre last Saturday.

Remarkably, another celebrated attacking Test full-back, Ken Scotland, was educated at the same establishment, making the lineage even more impressive. People used to talk about whistling down the mines of northern England for fast bowlers or monitoring the production line at Max Boyce’s Welsh fly-half factory. If there is a Scottish equivalent for full-backs, it can be found a well-struck punt away from Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden.

Which begged a slightly broader question. If the Heriot’s No 15 jersey rates among the most mythical of British and Irish club jerseys, which other garments merit potential inclusion in the ultimate kitbag? The blue and black No 9 of Cardiff should certainly be in the frame, with Gareth Edwards and Terry Holmes just two of the distinguished alumni to have worn it. How about the red Munster No 10 jersey, worn so memorably by, among others, Tony Ward and Ronan O’Gara? Or the blue Leinster No 13 shirt, forever synonymous with Brian O’Driscoll?

There are plenty more contenders, clearly, just as there are endless old stadiums inhabited by the ghosts of rugby’s past. If you are passing Redruth, for example, go and pay homage to “Hellfire Corner” and imagine the ominous studs of ferocious Cornish packs of yesteryear clattering towards you. Or, alternatively, stand for a while in the Shed at Kingsholm and visualise those cold, dark evenings when Cherry & White forwards would eat innocent Oxbridge half-backs for tea, howled on by home supporters who, in many cases, viewed a trip to Cheltenham as an exotic awayday.

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Dan Drysdale’s grandson, Malcolm, stands beneath a photograph (third from left) of the former Scotland full-back.

In short, we are talking about heritage. Rugby has loads of it and, right now, it is not terribly in fashion. The professional game has morphed into something very different – vastly improved in numerous respects, less fabulous in others – and anonymous-looking new stadia have largely replaced the old school cathedrals.

Which is fine, up to a point. Any game that stands still will stagnate; a sport that lives in the past is inevitably doomed. But when, the other week, the hugely promising England forward, Chandler Cunningham-South, confessed to having no idea his mentor Richard Hill had been a World Cup winning flanker in 2003 it further served to underline how quickly rugby’s once-central pillars can fade into the background.

The aforementioned FOSROC Super Series, introduced as recently as 2019, is the latest casualty, set to be scrapped this year in the ceaseless pursuit of change. Exactly how the Scottish domestic scene will look in future remains unclear but mutton pies, old school full-backs and simple pleasures are not obviously part of the zeitgeist. If it is smart, though, the game will realise rugby’s appeal is not just about the shiny and the new. It is also built on tradition, fellowship and an enduring truth: the best sporting memories are not always created on the biggest of stages or the most high-profile of days.

This is an extract taken from our weekly rugby union email, the Breakdown. To sign up, just visit this page and follow the instructions.

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  2. MTN Springboks: British and Lions Tour 2021

  3. The LION Kings of the South Retake the Southern Pride

  4. SOUTH AFRICA lions are exhausted after their dinner (Kruger national park)

  5. Living With Lions

  6. 1968 British Lions tour to South Africa Top # 6 Facts


  1. British & Irish Lions

    Against all the odds and amid a pandemic, The British & Irish Lions managed to successfully stage a Tour to South Africa in 2021. 2021 - A Lions Tour like no other. ... But - 22 years after a British side had first set sail for the southern hemisphere - this was the first official Tour, in that it had the sanction of all four home nations. ...

  2. 2021 British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa

    The 2021 British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa was an international rugby union tour that took place in South Africa in July and August 2021. The British & Irish Lions, a team selected from players eligible to represent England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales, played a three-match test series against South Africa, and tour matches against three of South Africa's four United Rugby Championship ...

  3. British & Irish Lions

    The 1962 tour to South Africa saw the Lions still win 16 of their 25 games, but did not fare well against the Springboks, losing three of the four tests. For the 1966 tour to Australia and New Zealand John Robins became the first Lions coach, and the trip started off very well for the Lions, who stormed through Australia, winning five non-tests ...

  4. Feature: The story of the 1962 Tour to South Africa

    26 May 2021 09:30 Reading Time: 13 mins. David Rollo is flicking through his scrapbook from the 1962 British & Irish Lions Tour of South Africa. The memory may take a little longer to engage these days, but there is no mistaking the warm glow of recollection in the 86-year-old's voice, nearly 60 years after the event.

  5. 1974 British Lions tour to South Africa

    0. In 1974, the British & Irish Lions toured South Africa, with matches in South West Africa and Rhodesia. Under the leadership of Willie John McBride, the Lions went through the tour undefeated, winning 21 of their 22 matches and being held to a draw in the final match, albeit in controversial circumstances. The 1974 squad became known as 'The ...

  6. Lions versus Springboks: The history of the British and Irish Lions in

    This Test match was played in front of a then-record crowd of 95,000. The 1955 Lions would draw the Test series, with two wins and two defeats. The Lions again toured South Africa in 1962. The ...

  7. British & Irish Lions: The South Africa Tour explained

    Monday 21 June 2021, 5:59pm. The Lions will head to South Africa for a six week tour, including three test matches against the Springboks Credit: PA. The British & Irish Lions are currently in ...

  8. 1968 British Lions tour to South Africa

    Summarize this article for a 10 year old. In 1968 the British Lions toured South Africa. The tour was not successful in terms of international results, the Lions losing the Test series against South Africa by three matches to nil, with the other match drawn. The Lions won 15 of their 16 non-international matches, losing only to Transvaal.

  9. 1938 British Lions tour to South Africa

    The 1938 British Isles tour to South Africa was the fourteenth tour by a British Isles team and the sixth to South Africa. The tour is retrospectively classed as one of the British Lions tours, as the Lions naming convention was not adopted until 1950.

  10. British & Irish Lions on Tour in South Africa

    The reason we love the British & Irish Lions tours, is because it is the last traditional rugby tour. The Lions have over the years played in some epic encou...

  11. British & Lions tour to SA is ON! Here are 5 things you need to know

    1. Original schedule 'subject to review'. The British Lions are due to take on the Stormers at Cape Town Stadium on July 3 in what will be the first match of their tour. In addition to the three Test matches against the Springboks from 27 July to 7 August, the Lions are due to play five other matches against various South African opposition for ...

  12. History of rugby union matches between South Africa and the British

    The Lions won the first two series between the two sides in 1891 and 1896, including wins in the first six matches, but then did not win another series until their unbeaten 1974 tour. After South Africa's victory in the 1980 series , the two teams did not meet again until 1997 as a result of apartheid sanctions; the Lions won the 1997 series ...

  13. British and Irish Lions: Your guide to the 2021 squad to face South Africa

    Conor Murray will now lead a 37-man British and Irish Lions squad on their tour of South Africa in July and August. Alun Wyn Jones had been set to captain the Lions on his fourth tour, but dislocated his shoulder less than eight minutes into the team's 28-10 victory against Japan, and was later forced to withdraw from the squad.

  14. 1974 British Lions tour to South Africa

    0. In 1974, the British & Irish Lions toured South Africa, with matches in South West Africa and Rhodesia. Under the leadership of Willie John McBride, the Lions went through the tour undefeated, winning 21 of their 22 matches and being held to a draw in the final match, albeit in controversial circumstances. The 1974 squad became known as 'The ...

  15. A look back at the successful 1997 British and Irish Lions tour of

    Total Rugby recently took a look back at what happened on the last successful Lions tour, which was 15 years ago in South Africa. As with the 2009 tour, The British & Irish Lions of 1997 travelled to South Africa to take on the World Champions in their own backyard. The series will always be remembered for that moment of brilliance from Jeremy ...

  16. South Africa 27-9 British & Irish Lions: second Test

    South Africa 3-6 Lions (Biggar 16') Dan Biggar drills the kick between the posts from distance. The penalty may in fact have been for an ugly, head-first challenge on Tom Curry by Cheslin Kolbe.

  17. 1938 British Lions tour to South Africa

    The 1938 British Isles tour to South Africa was the fourteenth tour by a British Isles team and the sixth to South Africa. The tour is retrospectively classed as one of the British Lions tours, as the Lions naming convention was not adopted until 1950. The tour party was led by Ireland's Sam Walker and managed by Col. Hartley, and took in 24 matches. Of the 24 games, 19 were against club or ...

  18. Rugby's rulers ignore the game's marvellous heritage at their peril

    The late Clem Thomas, in his History of the British Lions, described Drysdale as having "played marvellously throughout as a running full-back" during the 1924 tour to South Africa. The ...

  19. 1910 British Lions tour to South Africa

    The 1910 British Isles tour to South Africa was the eighth tour by a British Isles rugby union team and the fourth to South Africa. It is retrospectively classed as one of the British Lions tours, as the Lions naming convention was not adopted until 1950. As well as South Africa, the tour included a game in Bulawayo in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe .

  20. 1903 British Lions tour to South Africa

    The 1903 British Isles tour to South Africa was the fifth tour by a British Isles rugby team and the third to South Africa. It is retrospectively classed as one of the British Lions tours, as the Lions naming convention was not adopted until 1950. ... 1903 British Lions tour to South Africa; Summary: P: W: D: L: Total: 22: 11: 3: 8: Opponent: P ...