By News Team
8th July 2021
As the British and Irish Lions team continue to tour South Africa, we take a look back at some of the team’s greatest moments from years gone by.
Lions overcome world champions in 1997
The British and Irish Lions’ tour in 1997 was the first to South Africa since rugby union had turned professional. Up against the 1995 World Cup-winning Springboks, the odds seemed stacked against the Lions. But against the odds, they shocked the hosts with a convincing 25-16 win at Newlands to draw first blood.
Facing a South African onslaught in the second Test at Durban, the accurate kicking of Neil Jenkins kept the tourists in the match, despite South Africa scoring three tries to nil. It was the trusty right boot of England centre Jeremy Guscott that proved pivotal. His late drop goal gave the Lions an 18-15 lead which they managed to protect thanks to a final few minutes of desperate and determined defence. A 35-16 loss in the final Test at Ellis Park did little to dampen the celebrations of Ian McGeechan’s men as the Lions rugby team took home a deserved and iconic series victory.
Australia swatted aside in 2013
Fast forward to 2013 and the tour of Australia and the first Test in Brisbane will live long in the memory for everyone involved as George North stole the headlines with a spectacular solo try. North stole the show with his exquisite try and despite Israel Folau’s score, the Lions led 13-12 at half-time. But when Alex Cuthbert came off his right wing and was found by Jonathan Sexton’s pass, he dotted down to extend the visitors’ lead. The Lions’ second try made it 20-12 only for the Wallabies to mount a fierce comeback through Kurtley Beale. And the Australian had a kick to win the first Test in time added on – only to slip on the turf.
An impressive midweek victory over the Melbourne Rebels maintained the Lions’ momentum but in the second Test it was Leigh Halfpenny’s last-gasp kick from halfway that failed to fall through the posts and Australia held on for a 16-15 win.
With skipper Sam Warburton ruled out of the third Test through injury, he was replaced as captain by forward Alun Wyn Jones with the Lions delivering in style in Sydney. After two nip-and-tuck encounters, the third and decisive clash was a mammoth and historic victory for the tourists after a second-half blitz sealed a 41-16 success. The ever-reliable boot of Halfpenny, one of a record-equalling ten Welshmen in the starting XV, and the dominance of the Lions forwards kept the scoreboard ticking for the visitors who led 19-10 at the break. By full-time the Lions had secured another famous series success.
Farrell secures late draw in style in 2017
Having led the Lions to a historic series win in Australia in 2013 – the team’s first in 16 years – a return to his native New Zealand was an altogether different challenge for coach Warren Gatland in 2017. Gatland embraced it, recalling many of the same coaching group that did the job in 2013 but adding fresh voices to the mix as well.
The British and Irish Lions tour ended in a draw, mainly due to the fact the Lions were up against the back-to-back world champions. With the All Blacks dominating the first Test, winning 30-15, the Lions were out for revenge in the second Test. The resilience of the squad was clear for all to see and prevailed in style to win 24-21 and take it to a decider at Eden Park, which ended up being a classic…
The All Blacks had led 12-6 at half-time but three penalties from Owen Farrell and a giant kick from Elliot Daly from beyond halfway levelled things at 12-12 with 20 minutes to go. Jerome Kaino was soon sin-binned but Beauden Barrett went on to kick a penalty for the hosts to make it 15-12. However, Farrell had the last say, converting a long-range penalty three minutes from time to secure a drawn series in the most dramatic of conclusions.