Sep 25, 2022

The British & Irish Lions Tour On South African Soil

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The famous Grouse looks at the most memorable moments of the tour when it has been held here at home.

FILE PHOTO: British & Irish Lions player facing off with Bokkie star during the British & Irish Lions Tour at King's Park Stadium in Johannesburg. PICTURE: Supplied

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JOHANNESBURG: Even in the context of Covid, this year’s edition of the tour has been a memorable one, to say the least.

The first edition of the British & Irish Lions Tour to South Africa was held in 1891. It happened through an invitation by Western Province Union. Fast forward 130 years, and 13 series later, 2021 had to be the stage for the continuation of this age-old showdown. Even in the context of Covid, this year’s edition of the tour has been a memorable one, to say the least.

For this cohort of Springboks, the stakes are as high as they have ever been because we as a country expect glory every time they step on the field. And it seems that the boys are well up to the task.

“I missed the tour in 2009, while I was playing for [the] province, so this is an unbelievable opportunity to play with the squad. It’s an incredible privilege,” says Rynhardt Elstadt , Springbok Rugby player.

On South African soil, the tour has brought wonderful moments, depending on which side you support of course. Below are some of the most memorable moments of the tour in South Africa, as brought to you by the official whisky sponsor of the tour, The Famous Grouse:

  • The host nation, South Africa, going against the Lions in the second test of the 2009 British & Irish Lions Tour.
FILE PHOTO: CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA – 24 July 2021, Springbok fullback Willie le Roux during the match between Springboks and the British & Irish Lions at the Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town, South Africa. PICTURE: Supplied

All the physicality you can think of was on display in this game; from a red card given to Schalk Burger, to a scuffle between Victor Matfield and Brian O’Driscoll, the game was heated from start to finish. In the end the Springboks won 28 – 25, courtesy of a moment of brilliance by Morne Steyn.

  • Percy Montgomery scoring his first try in the third test of the 1997 edition of the tour.

As defending world cup champions, and the British and Irish Lions hosts, South Africa had everything to prove in front of a 51 000-capacity crowd at King’s Park stadium.

This sentiment also rang true for a debutant, Percy Montgomery. And after having missed a conversion off the back of a Joost van der Westhuizen try, the moment came for jersey number 13 as he took a pass from van Schalkwyk in the 40th minute and scored his first-ever Bok try, on debut.

  • British & Irish Lions tour 2009, South Africa VS Lions, Third Test

This match might have ended with a loss to South Africa but seeing that the Lions were on a 7-test match losing streak, they were going for broke in a bid to change this.

Although not a great day for the Springboks, the British Lions shone that day because of a great combination between Ricky Flutey and Shane Williams, who ended up scoring two tries in that game – an Ugo Monye interception and try was also a moment worth watching.

  • British & Irish Lions tour 2021, 2nd test

In a tournament held behind closed doors because of Covid-19, one would have thought that this tour would have been something worth not even mentioning, but the Spirit of Rugby has been front and centre for all to witness— from a good starting performance of the series by the Lions to the passion for the game shown by Rassie Erasmus, the Springboks only had one thing to do in the second test… keep the hope alive, and they did exactly that by coming back from 9- 6 down at a half time, to wining the match 27 – 9, and by so doing, tying the series.

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