1891 British Lions tour to South Africa

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1891 British Lions Tour to South Africa
Date 9 July  – 7 September
Coach(es) Edwin Ash
Tour captain(s) Scotland Bill Maclagan
Test series winners British and Irish Lions (0–3)
Top test point scorer(s) England Arthur Rotherham (4)


1891 Great Britain tour in South Africa
Type P W D L
Total: 20 20 0 0
Test match: 3 3 0 0
Opp. P W D L
United Kingdom South Africa 3 3 0 0
Statistics against Test match opponents
The British Isles team of 1891

The 1891 British Isles tour to South Africa was the first British Isles rugby union tour of South Africa and only the second overseas tour conducted by a joint British team. Between 9 July and 7 September, the team played 20 games, including three tests against the South Africa national rugby union team. The British Isles not only won all three Test matches, but also won all 17 provincial games. Although not named as such at the time, the tour is retrospectively recognised as a British Lions tour.

Tour details[edit]

After the South African Rugby Board was formed in 1889, the Board committee decided one of the best ways to promote the game was to invite a British side to visit, similar to the British Isles tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1888. In September 1890 the Rugby Football Union (RFU) discussed the proposed tour; in attendance was Mr, J Richards of Cape Town, who, as an Old Leysian, had connections to the English game.[1] The tour was agreed, with Cecil Rhodes agreeing to guarantee any financial losses the tour may incur.[1]

The first overseas British tour of 1888, was not sanctioned by the RFU, and therefore is often not recognised as an official Lions tour, so the South African Tests were actually the first matches that allowed the British players to be awarded international caps.

Captained by Scottish international Bill Maclagan, the British team consisted of players from English and Scottish clubs with a heavy contingent of members from Cambridge University teams. Of the players roughly half were, or would win national caps, and the majority of those who did not were former Cambridge Blues.[2] Although containing four Scots, the fact that the tour was organised by the RFU, the team was initially recognised as an English team, but retrospectively gained its British Isles tag. The touring party had been selected by a committee composed of G. Rowland-Hill, the president of the RFU, R.S. Whalley, Harry Vassall, Arthur Budd and J.H.S. McArthur.[3]

The British team took in twenty matches, three of them tests against the South African team. The tourists won all twenty matches conceding just a single try, which was scored against them in the very first game. Although the Test top scorer for the tourists was Arthur Rotherham, mainly because a conversion at the time was worth twice as much as a try; the tour's outstanding scorer was Randolph Aston. At six-foot three, and weighing 15 stones, Aston played in all 20 matches and was the unstopable try scorer of the tour. Out of the 89 tries scored by the British team, Aston scored 30 including the first ever try against the South African team in the first test.[4]

The tourists played in red and white hooped shirts and dark blue shorts[5]

Touring party[edit]

Full Backs[edit]

Three-Quarters[edit]

Half backs[edit]

Forwards[edit]

Results[edit]

Date Opponent Location Result Score
Match 1 9 July Cape Town Cape Town Won 15–1
Match 2 11 July Western Province Cape Town Won 6–0
Match 3 13 July Cape Colony Cape Town Won 14–0
Match 4 18 July Kimberley Kimberley Won 7–0
Match 5 20 July Griqualand West Kimberley Won 3–0
Match 6 25 July Port Elizabeth Port Elizabeth Won 22–0
Match 7 28 July Eastern Province Port Elizabeth Won 21–0
Match 8 30 July South Africa Port Elizabeth Won 4–0
Match 9 1 August Grahamstown Grahamstown Won 9–0
Match 10 4 August King William's Town King William's Town Won 18–0
Match 11 6 August King William's Town & District King William's Town Won 16–0
Match 12 11 August Pietermaritzburg Pietermaritzburg Won 25–0
Match 13 15 August Transvaal Johannesburg Won 22–0
Match 14 19 August Johannesburg Johannesburg Won 15–0
Match 15 22 August Transvaal Johannesburg Won 9–0
Match 16 26 August Cape Colony Kimberley Won 4–0
Match 17 29 August South Africa Kimberley Won 3–0
Match 18 3 September Cape Colony Cape Town Won 7–0
Match 19 5 September South Africa Cape Town Won 4–0
Match 20 7 September Stellenbosch Stellenbosch Won 2–0

The matches[edit]

First Test[edit]

30 July
South Africa 0–4 British Isles
Try: Aston
Whittaker
Con: Rotherham
Crusaders Ground, Port Elizabeth
Attendance: 6,000
Referee: J Griffin

South Africa Ben Duff, Harry Boyes, Chubb Vigne, Mosey van Buuren, Alfred Richards, Frank Guthrie, Oupa Versfeld, Bill Bisset, Herbert Hayton Castens (capt.), Tiger Devenish, Japie Louw, Edward Little, Fred Alexander, GA Merry, Frank Hamilton

British Isles William Grant Mitchell, Paul Robert Clauss, Randolph Aston, Bill Maclagan (capt.), Arthur Rotherham, William Wotherspoon, William Bromet, John Harding Gould, Johnny Hammond, Froude Hancock, Robert MacMillan, Clement Pearson Simpson, Aubone Surtees, Robert Thompson, Thomas Sherren Whittaker

Second Test[edit]

29 August
South Africa 0–3 British Isles
GM: Mitchell
Eclectic Cricket Ground, Kimberley
Attendance: 3,000
Referee: P Ross Frames

South Africa Ben Duff, Harry Boyes, Chubb Vigne, Arthur de Kock, Alfred Richards, Jackie Powell, Oupa Versfeld, Bob Snedden (capt.), Bob Shand, Wilfred Trenery, Japie Louw, DW Smith, Fred Alexander, Fairy Heatlie, CW Smith

British Isles William Grant Mitchell, Paul Robert Clauss, Randolph Aston, Bill Maclagan (capt.), Howard Marshall, Edward Bromet, William Bromet, John Harding Gould, Johnny Hammond, Froude Hancock, Robert MacMillan, Edwin Mayfield, Aubone Surtees, Robert Thompson, Thomas Sherren Whittaker

Third Test[edit]

5 September
South Africa 0–4 British Isles
Try: Aston
Maclagan
Con: Rotherham
Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
Attendance: 3,000
Referee: HH Castens

South Africa Ben Duff, AJ Hartley, Chubb Vigne, Hasie Versfeld, Alfred Richards (capt.), Frank Guthrie, Oupa Versfeld, Bill Bisset, Bob Shand, CG van Renen, Japie Louw, Edward Little, JA McKendrick, Fairy Heatlie, TW Chignell

British Isles William Grant Mitchell, Paul Robert Clauss, Randolph Aston, Bill Maclagan (capt.), Howard Marshall, Arthur Rotherham, William Bromet, Edward Bromet, Johnny Hammond, Froude Hancock, Robert MacMillan, Edwin Mayfield, Aubone Surtees, Robert Thompson, Thomas Sherren Whittaker

Bibliography[edit]

  • Griffiths, John (1987). The Phoenix Book of International Rugby Records. London: Phoenix House. ISBN 0-460-07003-7. 
  • Jenkins, Vivian (1981). Rothmans Rugby Yearbook 1981–82. Aylesbury: Rothmans Publications Ltd. ISBN 0-907574-05-X. 
  • Parker, A.C. (1970). The Springboks, 1891–1970. London: Cassell & Company Ltd. ISBN 0-304-93591-3. 

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Griffiths (1987), pg 6:3.
  2. ^ Griffiths (1987), pg 9:3.
  3. ^ Parker (1970) pp. 12–13
  4. ^ IRB Hall of Fame, 2009 Nominees IRB.com. Accessed 3 May 2009. Archived 2009-05-05.
  5. ^ Lions name is a source of great pride The Times 19 June 2009