1997 British Lions tour to South Africa
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The 1997 British Lions tour to South Africa was a series of matches played by the British Lions rugby union team in South Africa. This tour followed the Lions' 1993 tour to New Zealand and preceded their 2001 tour to Australia. The much-anticipated tour was the first after the end of apartheid in South Africa, and the first Lions tour since rugby union turned professional. It was only the third time that a touring side had won a test series in South Africa; the others being the 1974 Lions and the 1996 All Blacks.
|1997 British Lions Tour to South Africa|
|Date||24 May – 5 July|
|Coach(es)||Ian McGeechan |
|Tour captain(s)||Martin Johnson|
|Test series winners||British Lions (2–1)|
|Top test point scorer(s)||Neil Jenkins (41)|
|Top point scorer(s)||Tim Stimpson (111)|
|Top test try scorer(s)||Matt Dawson (2)|
|Top try scorer(s)|| John Bentley (7)|
Tony Underwood (7)
A documentary Living with Lions was produced and contains footage of players and coaching staff during and away from matches.
South Africa had won the 1995 Rugby World Cup, but were in decline at the time of the tour. The inaugural Tri Nations in 1996 had been comfortably won by New Zealand with South Africa winning only one of their four matches in the tournament. There was also some disarray in the management of the game in South Africa with the resignation of the coach Andre Markgraaff and the acrimonious replacement of the World Cup-winning captain Francois Pienaar. Nevertheless, the Lions were seen to be underdogs – for example an editorial in the South African sports magazine "SA Sports Illustrated" said "The British Lions arrived in South Africa rated – by their own media, South African media and supporters – as nothing more than rank underdogs. A nice bunch of blokes who were making a bit of history and, in so doing, winning friends rather than matches".
The Lions convincingly won the first test at Newlands 25–16 with Neil Jenkins kicking five penalties, and Matt Dawson and Alan Tait scoring tries. Despite scoring three tries in the second test at Durban, the Springboks suffered from some woeful goal kicking and failed to land any penalties or conversions, while the Lions Neil Jenkins once again kicked five penalties to level the scores at 15–15 before a Jerry Guscott drop goal for an 18–15 lead for the Lions. The Lions then held off a ferocious South African fightback, Lawrence Dallaglio putting in a magnificent try-saving tackle, to win the match 18–15 and take the series. The third test at Ellis Park proved a match too far for the Lions squad and they lost 35–16.
The tour was a triumph for the Lions management of Fran Cotton (Manager), Ian McGeechan (Head Coach), Jim Telfer (Assistant Coach) and especially the Captain Martin Johnson. It was the last occasion on which the Lions returned victorious from a tour until the victorious tour of Australia in 2013.
The original 35-man squad was:
|Martin Johnson (Capt.)||Second Row||Leicester||England|
|Neil Jenkins||Full back||Pontypridd||Wales|
|Tim Stimpson||Full back||Newcastle||England|
|Jeremy Davidson||Second Row||London Irish||Ireland|
|Simon Shaw||Second Row||Bristol||England|
|Doddie Weir||Second Row||Newcastle||Scotland|
|Neil Back||Back Row||Leicester||England|
|Lawrence Dallaglio||Back Row||Wasps||England|
|Richard Hill||Back Row||Saracens||England|
|Eric Miller||Back Row||Leicester||Ireland|
|Scott Quinnell||Back Row||Richmond||Wales|
|Tim Rodber||Back Row||Northampton||England|
|Rob Wainwright||Back Row||Watsonians||Scotland|
|Tony Stanger||Winger||Scotland||Later addition to the tour|
|Mike Catt||Fly-half||England||Later addition to the tour|
|Kyran Bracken||Scrum-half||England||Later addition to the tour|
|Tony Diprose||Back Row||England||Later addition to the tour|
|Nigel Redman||Second Row||England||Later addition to the tour|
- Scores and results list British Lions's points tally first.
|Match 1||24 May||Eastern Province XV||Boet Erasmus Stadium, Port Elizabeth||Won||39–11|
|Match 2||28 May||Border||Basil Kenyon Stadium, East London||Won||18–14|
|Match 3||31 May||Western Province||Newlands, Cape Town||Won||38–21|
|Match 4||4 June||Mpumalanga||Johann van Riebeeck Stadium, Witbank||Won||64–14|
|Match 5||7 June||Northern Transvaal||Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria||Lost||30–35|
|Match 6||11 June||Gauteng Lions||Ellis Park, Johannesburg||Won||20–14|
|Match 7||14 June||Sharks||King's Park, Durban||Won||42–12|
|Match 8||17 June||Emerging Springboks||Boland Stadium, Wellington||Won||51–22|
|Match 9||21 June||South Africa||Newlands, Cape Town||Won||25–16|
|Match 10||24 June||Free State||Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein||Won||52–30|
|Match 11||28 June||South Africa||King's Park, Durban||Won||18–15|
|Match 12||1 July||Northern Free State||Noord-wes Stadium, Welkom||Won||67–39|
|Match 13||5 July||South Africa||Ellis Park, Johannesburg||Lost||16–35|
21 June 1997
|South Africa||16–25||British and Irish Lions|
|Try: Du Randt 23' m
Bennett 44' m
Pen: Lubbe (1/1) 3'
Honiball (1/1) 50'
|Report||Try: Dawson 73' m|
Tait 79' m
Pen: Jenkins (5/6) 6', 33', 35', 43', 62'
28 June 1997
|South Africa||15–18||British Lions|
|Try: Van der Westhuizen
|Pen: Jenkins (5)|
King's Park, Durban
Referee: Didier Mene (France)
South Africa: 15. Joubert 14. Small 13. Montgomery 12. Snyman 11. Rossouw 10. Honiball 9. van der Westhuizen 1. du Randt 2. Drotske 3. Garvey 4. Strydom 5. Andrews 6. Kruger 7. Venter 8. Teichmann (capt). Replacements: 16. van Heerden 17. Theron 18. Bennett 19. Wessels 20. Swanepoel 21. Dalton
British Lions. 15. Jenkins 14. Bentley 13. Gibbs 12. Guscott 11. Tait 10. Townsend 9. Dawson 1. Smith 2. Wood 3. Wallace 4. Johnson (capt) 5. Davidson 6. Dallaglio 7. Hill 8. Rodber. Replacements: 16. Back 17. Healey 18. Miller 19. Catt 20. Williams 21. Leonard
5 July 1997
|South Africa||35–16||British Lions|
|Try: Van der Westhuizen
Con: De Beer (2)
Pen: De Beer (3)
South Africa: 15 Bennett, 14 Snyman, 13 Montgomery, 12 van Schalkwyk, 11 Rossouw, 10 de Beer, 9 van der Westhuizen, 1 du Randt, 2 Dalton, 3 Theron, 4 Strydom, 5 Otto, 6 Erasmus, 7 Venter, 8 Teichmann, (capt). Replacements: 16 Honiball, 17 Garvey, 18 Drotské, 19 Swart, 20 van Heerden, 21 Swanepoel
British Lions: 15 Jenkins, 14 Bentley, 13 Gibbs, 12 Guscott, 11Underwood; 10. Catt, 9. Dawson; 1 Smith, 2 Regan, 3 Wallace 4 Johnson (capt), 5 Davidson, 6 Wainwright, 7 Back, 8 Dallaglio. Replacements: 16 Stimpson, 17 Bateman, 18 Healey, 19 Hill, 20 Williams, 21 Young