1903 British Lions tour to South Africa

The 1903 British Isles tour to South Africa was the fifth tour by a British Isles 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
Date9 July – 12 September
Coach(es)Johnny Hammond
Tour captain(s)Scotland Mark Morrison
Test series winners South Africa (1–0)
Top test point scorer(s)Scotland John Gillespie (4)

Led by Scotland's Mark Morrison and managed by Johnny Hammond the tour took in 22 matches. Of the games three were test matches, played against the South Africa national rugby union team. The British Isles drew the first two test matches and lost the final encounter.

Having lost only one game out of 40 matches in the previous two tours of South Africa, the British Isles team were truly tested by the South African rugby nation on this tour. Of the 22 games played, the tourist won eleven, drew three and lost eight. Unlike past teams, the British Isles three-quarter line was not seen as the team's strongest asset and more reliance was placed in the pack. Of the backs, only Reg Skrimshire, the only Welsh player selected, was judged to have shown any true flair; while the pack failed to live up to expectations, even when led by Scottish power-house David Bedell-Sivright.

The tour included Louis Leisler Greig, who later became well known as a royal equerry, friend of George VI and became a prominent member of the far right January Club.

Touring partyEdit

  • Manager: Johnny Hammond


1903 British Lions tour to South Africa
22 11 03 08
  South Africa
3 0 2 1

  Test matches

Date Opponent Location Result Score
1 9 July Western Province Country Cape Town Lost 7–13
2 11 July Western Province Towns Cape Town Lost 3–12
3 13 July Western Province Cape Town Lost 4–8
4 18 July Port Elizabeth Port Elizabeth Won 13–0
5 20 July Eastern Province Port Elizabeth Won 12–0
6 22 July Grahamstown Grahamstown Won 28–7
7 25 July King William's Town King William's Town Won 37–3
8 27 July East London East London, Eastern Cape Won 7–5
9 1 August Griqualand West Kimberley Lost 0–11
10 4 August Griqualand West Kimberley Lost 6–8
11 8 August Transvaal Johannesburg Lost 3–12
12 11 August Pretoria Pretoria Won 15–3
13 13 August Pietermaritzburg Pietermaritzburg Won 15–0
14 15 August Durban Durban Won 22–0
15 19 August Witwatersrand Johannesburg Won 12–0
16 22 August Transvaal Johannesburg Lost 4–14
17 26 August   South Africa Johannesburg Draw 10–10
18 29 August Orange River County Bloemfontein Won 17–16
19 2 September Griqualand West Kimberley Won 11–5
20 5 September   South Africa Kimberley Drew 0–0
21 10 September Western Province Cape Town Drew 3–3
22 12 September   South Africa Cape Town Lost 0–8

The matchesEdit

After playing the first two Tests in white shirts, South Africa wore a green jersey (supplied by Old Diocesan's Club) for the first time in their final Test at Newlands.[4]

First TestEdit

26 August
South Africa   10–10   British Isles
Try: Dobbin
Con: Heatlie (2)
Try: Cave
Con: Gillespie (2)
Wanderers Ground, Johannesburg
Attendance: 5,000
Referee: Bill Davidson (Scotland)

Second TestEdit

5 September
South Africa   0–0   British Isles
Athletic Ground, Kimberley
Attendance: 5,000
Referee: PW Day (South Africa)

Third TestEdit

12 September
South Africa   8–0   British Isles
Try: Barry
Con: Heatlie
Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
Attendance: 6,000
Referee: JH Anderson (South Africa)


  • Sewell, Edward Humphrey Dalrymple (1919). The Rugby Football Internationals Roll of Honour. London, Edinburgh: T. C. & E. C. Jack.