Thursday, June 18, 2009
As we all know, the British & Irish Lions play the first Test of the 2009 tour of South Africa against the Springboks in Durban this Saturday. This years crop will look to emulate their successful predecessors, who famously won the series the last time they visited the country, back in 1997.
Twelve years ago the World Champion Springboks hosted the first professional Lions squad of the modern era. The Boks were considered by many to be the favourites, but it was the visitors who pulled off the sensational series win, the following in the footsteps of the legendary group who won there in 1974.
Ian McGeechan was coach in 1997 too, and along with Jim Telfer and Fran Cotton, used their collective experience to put together a powerful unit that played to their strengths, and prevailed against the odds.
Led by the imposing figure of Martin Johnson, the Lions won the first Test in Cape Town, with that famous Matt Dawsom dummy stopping about four Bok defenders dead in their tracks.
In the second Test, Jeremy Guscott proved the difference minutes from time, as with both sides level on 15-15, the England center coolly slotted a drop goal that effectively won them the series.
The Springboks found their rhythm and got their goal kicking right in the third and final Test, winning 36-16, but it was to no avail as the visitors had already won the series 2-1.
Their are a few obvious parallels that can be drawn between this years tour, and that of 1997: The Springboks were World Champions, Ian McGeechan was coach, and a big, powerful lock was captain. Will history repeat itself?
We have a really interesting two part video from Total Rugby that shows just how the Lions went about winning the series back then. Part one first, then part two. Enjoy.