1997 British Lions tour to South Africa

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.[1]

1997 British Lions tour to South Africa
Date24 May – 5 July
Coach(es)Scotland Ian McGeechan
Scotland Jim Telfer
Tour captain(s)England Martin Johnson
Test series winnersBritish Lions (2–1)
Top test point scorer(s)Wales Neil Jenkins (41)
Lions' top point scorer(s)England Tim Stimpson (111)
Top test try scorer(s)England Matt Dawson (2)
Lions' top try scorer(s)England John Bentley (7)
England Tony Underwood (7)
1997 British Lions tour to South Africa
Summary
P W D L
Total
13 11 00 02
Test match
03 02 00 01
Opponent
P W D L
 South Africa
3 2 0 1

A documentary Living with Lions was produced and contains footage of players and coaching staff during and away from matches.

Pre-tour prospectsEdit

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 resultsEdit

The Lions 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 goalkicking 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.

Lions squadEdit

The original 35-man squad was:

Name Position Club Home Nation Notes
Martin Johnson (c) Lock Leicester   England
Neil Jenkins Fullback Pontypridd   Wales
Tim Stimpson Fullback Newcastle   England
Nick Beal Wing Northampton   England
John Bentley Wing Newcastle   England
Ieuan Evans Wing Llanelli   Wales
Tony Underwood Wing Newcastle   England
Allan Bateman Centre Richmond   Wales
Scott Gibbs Centre Swansea   Wales
Will Greenwood Centre Leicester   England
Jeremy Guscott Centre Bath   England
Alan Tait Centre Newcastle   Scotland
Paul Grayson Fly-half Northampton   England
Gregor Townsend Fly-half Northampton   Scotland
Matt Dawson Scrum-half Northampton   England
Austin Healey Scrum-half Leicester   England
Rob Howley Scrum-half Cardiff   Wales
Paul Wallace Prop Saracens   Ireland Replaced the injured Peter Clohessy before the start of the tour
Jason Leonard Prop Harlequins   England
Graham Rowntree Prop Leicester   England
Tom Smith Prop Watsonians   Scotland
Dai Young Prop Cardiff   Wales
Mark Regan Hooker Bristol   England
Barry Williams Hooker Neath   Wales
Keith Wood Hooker Harlequins   Ireland
Jeremy Davidson Lock London Irish   Ireland
Simon Shaw Lock Bristol   England
Doddie Weir Lock 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 Wing Hawick   Scotland Later addition to the tour
Mike Catt Fly-half Bath   England Later addition to the tour
Kyran Bracken Scrum-half Saracens   England Later addition to the tour
Tony Diprose Back row Saracens   England Later addition to the tour
Nigel Redman Lock Bath   England Later addition to the tour

MatchesEdit

Scores and results list British Lions' points tally first.[1]
Date Opponent Venue Result Score
24 May Eastern Province XV Boet Erasmus Stadium, Port Elizabeth Won 39–11
28 May Border Basil Kenyon Stadium, East London Won 18–14
31 May Western Province Newlands, Cape Town Won 38–21
4 June Mpumalanga Johann van Riebeeck Stadium, Witbank Won 64–14
7 June Northern Transvaal Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria Lost 30–35
11 June Gauteng Lions Ellis Park, Johannesburg Won 20–14
14 June Sharks King's Park, Durban Won 42–12
17 June Emerging Springboks Boland Stadium, Wellington Won 51–22
21 June South Africa Newlands, Cape Town Won 25–16
24 June Free State Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein Won 52–30
28 June South Africa King's Park, Durban Won 18–15
1 July Northern Free State Noord-wes Stadium, Welkom Won 67–39
5 July South Africa Ellis Park, Johannesburg Lost 16–35

First TestEdit

21 June 1997
South Africa  16–25British Lions
Try: Du Randt 23' m
Bennett 44' m
Pen: Lubbe (1/1) 3'
Honiball (1/1) 50'
ReportTry: Dawson 73' m
Tait 79' m
Pen: Jenkins (5/6) 6', 33', 35', 43', 62'
Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
Referee: Colin Hawke (New Zealand)
FB 15 André Joubert
RW 14 James Small
OC 13 Japie Mulder
IC 12 Edrich Lubbe   40'
LW 11 André Snyman
FH 10 Henry Honiball
SH 9 Joost van der Westhuizen
N8 8 Gary Teichmann (c)
OF 7 André Venter
BF 6 Ruben Kruger
RL 5 Mark Andrews
LL 4 Hannes Strydom
TP 3 Adrian Garvey
HK 2 Naka Drotské
LP 1 Os du Randt
Replacements:
FB 16 Russell Bennett   40'
FB 17 Boeta Wessels
SH 18 Werner Swanepoel
LK 19 Krynauw Otto
HK 20 James Dalton
PR 21 Dawie Theron
Coach:
  Carel du Plessis
FB 15   Neil Jenkins
RW 14   Ieuan Evans
OC 13   Scott Gibbs
IC 12   Jeremy Guscott
LW 11   Alan Tait
FH 10   Gregor Townsend
SH 9   Matt Dawson
N8 8   Tim Rodber
OF 7   Richard Hill
BF 6   Lawrence Dallaglio
RL 5   Jeremy Davidson
LL 4   Martin Johnson (c)
TP 3   Paul Wallace
HK 2   Keith Wood
LP 1   Tom Smith   79'
Replacements:
PR 16   Jason Leonard   79'
WG 17   John Bentley
CE 18   Mike Catt
SH 19   Austin Healey
HK 20   Barry Williams
FL 21   Rob Wainwright
Coach:
  Ian McGeechan

Second TestEdit

28 June 1997
South Africa  15–18British Lions
Try: Van der Westhuizen
Montgomery
Joubert
ReportPen: Jenkins (5)
Drop: Guscott
Kings Park Stadium, Durban
Attendance: 50,000
Referee: Didier Mene (France)
FB 15 André Joubert
RW 14 André Snyman
OC 13 Percy Montgomery
IC 12 Danie van Schalkwyk
LW 11 Pieter Rossouw
FH 10 Henry Honiball
SH 9 Joost van der Westhuizen
N8 8 Gary Teichmann (c)
OF 7 André Venter
BF 6 Ruben Kruger   50'
RL 5 Mark Andrews
LL 4 Hannes Strydom
TP 3 Adrian Garvey   67'
HK 2 Naka Drotské
LP 1 Os du Randt
Replacements:
PR 16 Dawie Theron   67'
LK 17 Fritz van Heerden   50'
FB 18 Russell Bennett
FB 19 Boeta Wessels
SH 20 Werner Swanepoel
HK 21 James Dalton
Coach:
  Carel du Plessis
FB 15   Neil Jenkins
RW 14   John Bentley
OC 13   Scott Gibbs
IC 12   Jeremy Guscott
LW 11   Alan Tait   76'
FH 10   Gregor Townsend
SH 9   Matt Dawson
N8 8   Tim Rodber   76'
OF 7   Richard Hill   57'
BF 6   Lawrence Dallaglio
RL 5   Jeremy Davidson
LL 4   Martin Johnson (c)
TP 3   Paul Wallace
HK 2   Keith Wood
LP 1   Tom Smith
Replacements:
SH 16   Austin Healey   76'
FL 17   Neil Back   57'
N8 18   Eric Miller   76'
CE 19   Mike Catt
HK 20   Barry Williams
PR 21   Jason Leonard
Coach:
  Ian McGeechan

Third TestEdit

5 July 1997
South Africa  35–16British Lions
Try: Van der Westhuizen
Montgomery
Snyman
Rossouw
Con: De Beer (2)
Honiball
Pen: De Beer (3)
ReportTry: Dawson
Con: Jenkins
Pen: Jenkins(3)
Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg
Attendance: 62,000
Referee: Wayne Erickson (Australia)
FB 15 Russell Bennett
RW 14 André Snyman
OC 13 Percy Montgomery   53'
IC 12 Danie van Schalkwyk
LW 11 Pieter Rossouw
FH 10 Jannie de Beer   71'
SH 9 Joost van der Westhuizen   80'
N8 8 Gary Teichmann (c)   73'
OF 7 Rassie Erasmus
BF 6 André Venter
RL 5 Krynauw Otto
LL 4 Hannes Strydom
TP 3 Dawie Theron
HK 2 James Dalton   69'
LP 1 Os du Randt   63'
Replacements:
FH 16 Henry Honiball   53'
WG 17 Justin Swart   71'
SH 18 Werner Swanepoel   80'
PR 19 Adrian Garvey   63'
HK 20 Naka Drotské   69'
LK 21 Fritz van Heerden   73'
Coach:
  Carel du Plessis
FB 15   Neil Jenkins
RW 14   John Bentley
OC 13   Jeremy Guscott   40'
IC 12   Scott Gibbs
LW 11   Tony Underwood   30'
FH 10   Mike Catt
SH 9   Matt Dawson   80'
N8 8   Lawrence Dallaglio
OF 7   Neil Back
BF 6   Rob Wainwright
RL 5   Jeremy Davidson
LL 4   Martin Johnson (c)
TP 3   Paul Wallace
HK 2   Mark Regan
LP 1   Tom Smith
Replacements:
CE 16   Allan Bateman   40'
FB 17   Tim Stimpson   30'
SH 18   Austin Healey   80'
FL 19   Richard Hill
HK 20   Barry Williams
PR 21   Dai Young
Coach:
  Ian McGeechan

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Mick Cleary and John Griffiths, ed. (1997). Rothmans Rugby Union Yearbook 1997–98. London: Headline Book Publishing. ISBN 0-7472-7732-X.