1997 British Lions tour to South Africa

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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

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]

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

The tour doctor was James Robson and the tour manager was Fran Cotton.

Pre-tour prospects[edit]

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 results[edit]

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 squad[edit]

The original 35-man squad was:

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

Matches[edit]

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 Test[edit]

21 June 1997
South Africa  16–25 British 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'
FB 15 André Joubert
RW 14 James Small
OC 13 Japie Mulder
IC 12 Edrich Lubbe downward-facing red arrow 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 upward-facing green arrow 40'
FB 17 Boeta Wessels
SH 18 Werner Swanepoel
LK 19 Krynauw Otto
HK 20 James Dalton
PR 21 Dawie Theron
Coach:
South Africa Carel du Plessis
FB 15 Wales Neil Jenkins
RW 14 Wales Ieuan Evans
OC 13 Wales Scott Gibbs
IC 12 England Jeremy Guscott
LW 11 Scotland Alan Tait
FH 10 Scotland Gregor Townsend
SH 9 England Matt Dawson
N8 8 England Tim Rodber
OF 7 England Richard Hill
BF 6 England Lawrence Dallaglio
RL 5 Ireland Jeremy Davidson
LL 4 England Martin Johnson (c)
TP 3 Ireland Paul Wallace
HK 2 Ireland Keith Wood
LP 1 Scotland Tom Smith downward-facing red arrow 79'
Replacements:
PR 16 England Jason Leonard upward-facing green arrow 79'
WG 17 England John Bentley
CE 18 England Mike Catt
SH 19 England Austin Healey
HK 20 Wales Barry Williams
FL 21 Scotland Rob Wainwright
Coach:
Scotland Ian McGeechan

Second Test[edit]

28 June 1997
South Africa  15–18 British Lions
Try: Van der Westhuizen
Montgomery
Joubert
Report Pen: 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 downward-facing red arrow 50'
RL 5 Mark Andrews
LL 4 Hannes Strydom
TP 3 Adrian Garvey downward-facing red arrow 67'
HK 2 Naka Drotské
LP 1 Os du Randt
Replacements:
PR 16 Dawie Theron upward-facing green arrow 67'
LK 17 Fritz van Heerden upward-facing green arrow 50'
FB 18 Russell Bennett
FB 19 Boeta Wessels
SH 20 Werner Swanepoel
HK 21 James Dalton
Coach:
South Africa Carel du Plessis
FB 15 Wales Neil Jenkins
RW 14 England John Bentley
OC 13 Wales Scott Gibbs
IC 12 England Jeremy Guscott
LW 11 Scotland Alan Tait downward-facing red arrow 76'
FH 10 Scotland Gregor Townsend
SH 9 England Matt Dawson
N8 8 England Tim Rodber downward-facing red arrow 76'
OF 7 England Richard Hill downward-facing red arrow 57'
BF 6 England Lawrence Dallaglio
RL 5 Ireland Jeremy Davidson
LL 4 England Martin Johnson (c)
TP 3 Ireland Paul Wallace
HK 2 Ireland Keith Wood
LP 1 Scotland Tom Smith
Replacements:
SH 16 England Austin Healey upward-facing green arrow 76'
FL 17 England Neil Back upward-facing green arrow 57'
N8 18 Ireland Eric Miller upward-facing green arrow 76'
CE 19 England Mike Catt
HK 20 Wales Barry Williams
PR 21 England Jason Leonard
Coach:
Scotland Ian McGeechan

Third Test[edit]

5 July 1997
South Africa  35–16 British Lions
Try: Van der Westhuizen
Montgomery
Snyman
Rossouw
Con: De Beer (2)
Honiball
Pen: De Beer (3)
Report Try: 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 downward-facing red arrow 53'
IC 12 Danie van Schalkwyk
LW 11 Pieter Rossouw
FH 10 Jannie de Beer downward-facing red arrow 71'
SH 9 Joost van der Westhuizen downward-facing red arrow 80'
N8 8 Gary Teichmann (c) downward-facing red arrow 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 downward-facing red arrow 69'
LP 1 Os du Randt downward-facing red arrow 63'
Replacements:
FH 16 Henry Honiball upward-facing green arrow 53'
WG 17 Justin Swart upward-facing green arrow 71'
SH 18 Werner Swanepoel upward-facing green arrow 80'
PR 19 Adrian Garvey upward-facing green arrow 63'
HK 20 Naka Drotské upward-facing green arrow 69'
LK 21 Fritz van Heerden upward-facing green arrow 73'
Coach:
South Africa Carel du Plessis
FB 15 Wales Neil Jenkins
RW 14 England John Bentley
OC 13 England Jeremy Guscott downward-facing red arrow 40'
IC 12 Wales Scott Gibbs
LW 11 England Tony Underwood downward-facing red arrow 30'
FH 10 England Mike Catt
SH 9 England Matt Dawson downward-facing red arrow 80'
N8 8 England Lawrence Dallaglio
OF 7 England Neil Back
BF 6 Scotland Rob Wainwright
RL 5 Ireland Jeremy Davidson
LL 4 England Martin Johnson (c)
TP 3 Ireland Paul Wallace
HK 2 England Mark Regan
LP 1 Scotland Tom Smith
Replacements:
CE 16 Wales Allan Bateman upward-facing green arrow 40'
FB 17 England Tim Stimpson upward-facing green arrow 30'
SH 18 England Austin Healey upward-facing green arrow 80'
FL 19 England Richard Hill
HK 20 Wales Barry Williams
PR 21 Wales Dai Young
Coach:
Scotland Ian McGeechan

References[edit]

  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.