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Thursday, July 26, 2012

A look back at the successful 1997 British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa

There's just under a year to go until the next British & Irish Lions tour, which as we all know will take place in Australia. Total Rugby recently took a look back at what happened on the last successful Lions tour, which was 15 years ago in South Africa.

As with the 2009 tour, The British & Irish Lions of 1997 travelled to South Africa to take on the World Champions in their own backyard. The series will always be remembered for that moment of brilliance from Jeremy Guscott, a late dropgoal that sealed the win in the second Test.

"The Lions have provided most of my best moments in rugby, but that 1997 tour will always have pride of place. Nothing I could ever do will match the achievement of that tour, even if you rolled up all the Grand Slams, cup finals and league titles into one," Guscott said.

"If you'd seen me spraying drop-kicks all over the pitch in training during the previous week off the outside of my foot, off the inside of my foot, off the end of my toes you would have bet as much money on me putting it over as you would on a one-legged man in a backside-kicking competition.

"The moment is frozen in time in my memory. Probably because freezing was what was most on my mind. As the ball drifted towards me through the arc of the floodlights everything seemed to happen in slow-motion. I prayed it wouldn't miss. I prayed it wouldn't be charged down.

"The sense of elation I felt when I eventually looked up and saw the drop soar between the posts will stay with me forever," he added.

In 2013 the Lions face a different challenge as they take on the Wallabies, a team currently ranked 2nd in the world. As we saw with a strong Wales side recently, it will be tight, but at the end of the series it's the results that matter.

With the correct management team and player selection, the 2013 British & Irish Lions will have a good chance, but as Fran Cotton and Jim Telfer explain in the video below, to win a Lions series down south you have to have everything working for you, including the mental edge.

- What is your favourite memory from the 1997 tour?
- If you could pick the 2013 Lions side today, who would you choose?

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