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ONE MAN EMBODIES THE LIONS PHILOSOPHY MORE THAN MOST, IT IS HEAD COACH IAN

MCGEECHAN. A

WINNING

1974, AND AS A COACH IN 1989 AND 1997, MCGEECHAN IS CONFIDENT OF ACHIEVING VICTORY AGAIN - BUT LAMENTS SCOTLAND’S STRUGGLE. GARY FITZGERALD CONDUCTS A QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION WITH GEECH IN THE FIRING LINE

TOURIST AS A PLAYER IN

Lions Update 2009 magazine


Q&A

Fitzgerald: How will you decide which are the right players to line up for the First Test in Durban - knowing that it is so important to get the series off to a flying start?

Fitz: Are the Springboks different in terms of the way they play the game and their physical prowess compared to the Wallabies or All Blacks?

McGeechan: Our task is to get the combinations, chemistry and character together that is so important for success. You have to look at how tactically you are going to take on the South African challenge. But, just as importantly, is how you build up those special pairings in your own side. Putting players together who have a good understanding and clearly work well as a partnership and for the team. Those combinations will be built in the first three or four games - and after that we should be able to identify the right blend and shape the Test side will take. Being one playing squad and one coaching team will make it easier for everyone to get the messages across. Players will know what they have to do and what is expected of them. They must feel like a Lion as soon as they put that jersey on.

Geech: I always think a Lions tour to South Africa is different anyway. The climate is fairly unique in rugby terms. The rock hard pitches and the people are so passionate and fanatical about rugby union. They are a very confrontational and in your face people who love a challenge and a battle. It’s a fantastic and exciting place to tour and play rugby. It’s always such a very enjoyable and electrifying place to visit. I certainly cannot wait to get over there again and I know that is the same for the rest of the management team and playing squad.

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} Boks are better than 1997 ~

It’ll need a huge effort

says Ian McGeechan Lions Update 2009 magazine

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Q&A

Fitz: Do you feel you have taken a risk by not taking some tried and tested line-out jumpers in your back row? Geech: I don’t think it is a weakness in the selection. We have options in the back row. We have some ball winners at the back. It depends on the line-out combinations. I think we have picked enough guys who can compete with the Springboks on level terms. It’s always a key part of a Test and I’m content with the choices we have made. Fitz: The same can be said about your decision to take just two No10s. Is that something of a risk in terms of needing back up in the kicking department. Kicking penalties is going to be crucial if the Lions are to make a fist of it down there so have you left yourself open to potential problems in that area with only Leigh Halfpenny around to assist the likes of Ronan O’Gara and Stephen Jones? Geech: A lot of thought went into the fly-half situation. With only a few games before the First Test I wanted to give the players the opportunity to put their own games on display in a Lions jersey. Your decision makers - particularly No10s - need a lot of time to do just that - get plenty of playing time in their bags before walking out for a Test match. You boss a game at fly-half. So it’s important that the guys you believe are the best options to start the big games can develop and construct the style of game you intend to play. If there are too many inter-changes you can lose any continuity and momentum you are trying to build on the tour. Time is not on our side. Fitz: There are 14 Irishmen, 13 Welshmen and eight England players in the squad. Sadly, there are just two from Scotland. Is that something that concerns or upsets you - that your home land can only produce two players capable of being picked for a Lions tour? Geech: Yes, it does to a certain extent. It is the lowest number of Scotland players ever to be selected and that has to be a concern. It’s a difficult situation but that’s the way the make up is. Scotland had a tough time in the Six Nations again so it was harder for individuals to force their way in when the team is struggling a little. I’d love to have been able to pick more but my job is to select the very best players from all the British Isles and Ireland teams. Ireland and Wales were the strongest teams from the home unions once more but England were not far behind them. That is illustrated by the number of players each has in the party. Fitz: Have you made any special spying journeys over to South Africa to help your thorough preparations go even more smoothly than ever? Geech: I spent a week in South Africa back in 1996 prior to the Lions tour the following year just scouting around and taking in as much as I could in terms of information about the place and the Springboks. At that time it was a major step forward being able to fly over prior to a tour so that we could go there better prepared for what will happen. But this time I’ve actually had a month there in total on three different visits - looking at games and players and talking to the South Africans. It’s all about being 100 percent prepared for lift-off from the very first day you step off the plane. That’s why we’re going to Grenada for some altitude training prior to flying to South Africa. Fitz: Is there a secret to beating the major Southern Hemisphere super powers like South Africa. What is the most important aspect of being successful against them? Geech: If the All Blacks beat South Africa they don’t make mistakes. That’s the only way to do it against these sides - do not mess it up one single time. Or they simply punish you. If the Lions are going to do the same and win not just one Test but the series we must remained

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Lions Update 2009 magazine

mentally and physically strong as well as very disciplined. But just as important there must be no unforced errors. We must not give them any free points by making errors around the pitch. And when we get those rare openings to score tries we have to take them with both hands. No opportunity must go begging. Fitz: Is this Boks team better than the one which the 1997 Lions managed to overcome? Geech: Undoubtedly they are better. They are fitter, stronger and have even more danger men throughout their side. They have raised the bar another rung or two in terms of their all round abilities and skills. Physically they are in very good shape. Their scramble defence is outstanding and their attack is pretty formidable as they showed in the World Cup in France. But they have improved even since then - and they have brought in one or two new guys who have fitted in perfectly for the game they want to play. Fitz: Do you expect to come across the Boks Test players in the warmup games? Would you rather face them early on in the tour? Geech: I don’t think it really matters whether they throw them into the build-up matches. It really wouldn’t affect my team selection for those games. I think we know enough about their big match players not to need to see them before the Tests. And I wouldn’t have thought the Springboks management would want to risk injuries to their key players. But sometimes it is better to play strong opposition in those games so that by the time we reach the Tests, we’re fully wound up and ready for the full frontal action of a Test. Fitz: How convinced are you that not only have you picked the right squad of players to do well over there but that you had enough players at your disposal to select from in the first place with the ability and credentials to live with the Springboks in South Africa? Geech: The fact that I left it so late before finalising the squad speaks volumes about the real competition there has been for all the different positions in the squad. We have real strength in depth in the northern hemisphere and should appreciate that fact. Some people have knocked the Six Nations but I certainly am not one of those cynics. I thought it was a very hard fought competition with plenty of talent, skill and ability on show - just as it always is. There were many cracking individual and team displays as well as exciting games for the fans. The quality is there for all to see. It’s now down to myself and the coaching staff to get the best out of international players who have outstanding ability, talent and, in most circumstances, the experience to compete with the very best. Fitz: Finally, Geech, are you relishing the chance to lead the Lions into rugby war again in South Africa? And do you firmly believe you can be just as triumphant as twelve years ago? Geech: Taking a Lions party to any part of the world is one of the most special things any coach can do in their career. It is the pinnacle of being a rugby coach. It doesn’t get any better - apart from when you’re leading a successful party. I was fortunate to do just that back in 1997 and it’s a memory which will always live with me. It was a magical occasion shared with so many great players and people. I was just one of the people who made it happen. It was a huge team effort. And that’s what will be needed this time as well. For the whole squad to pull together and fight together. If the squad does exactly that - as the one twelve years ago did - then it will have a very good chance of winning the Test series. I’m confident this squad is good enough and I’m even more adamant that they will give it their very best shot. I cannot wait to get out there once more because I know just how competitive, challenging and uncompromising it will be. We certainly have a big task ahead - but an exciting one.”


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The Dream Team 10

Lions Update 2009 magazine


THE DREAM TEAM

L AWRENCE DALLAGLIO

ANALYSES THE QUALITIES OF AN ELITE

GROUP OF PAST AND PRESENT THE

2009 LIONS

WASPS

STAFF RECRUITED FOR

TOUR

LAWRENCE Bruno Nero Dallaglio would love nothing better than don the cherished red jersey and stroll onto the rock-hard rugby battlefields of South Africa poised for more brutal action. “It would be wonderful to get stuck into the world champions - ready to spill more blood, sweat and tears in the name of Lions glory” he says. But, having hung up his rugby boots just less than a year ago, he will be a mere eager and anxious onlooker confident that the nightmare he endured four years ago will be erased by the coming together of what he labels “The Dream Team”. The old warrior is adamant that no matter whatever develops over the coming weeks, the Lions organisers have given themselves the very best opportunity of putting the 2009 vintage right up there with the famed and renowned 1974 and 1997 Lions. Those two tours to South Africa will never be forgotten - and, according to former England hero Dallaglio, the massive Wasps influence amongst the coaching staff can bring more incredible memories. No fewer than six past and present Wasps coaches and fitness experts will lead the game’s most famous and revered touring armies into their three-Test confrontations with the Springboks. Head coach Ian McGeechan, the Wasps director of rugby, has assembled a management team comprising Shaun Edwards (Wasps head coach), Warren Gatland (former Wasps director of rugby), Rob Howley (exWasps scrum-half), Craig White (ex-Wasps fitness expert) and Rhys Long (ex-Wasps game analyst). Gatland, Edwards and Howley are the coaching trio who guided Wales to Grand Slam success in the Six Nations last season. White and Long are now part of that management set-up. Crucially, all of those involved know each other well. That is in stark contrast to Sir Clive Woodward’s tour three years ago when the All Blacks completed a series whitewash as the Lions operated two separate teams for Saturdays and midweek matches. While critics will claim this is a case of “jobs for the Wasps boys” Dallaglio insists the calibre of men involved gives the Lions a head start on the 10-match tour which sparks into full frontal action on 30 May. He also dismisses the terrible season Wasps have endured is irrelevant when it comes to potential Lions success. Dallaglio, who has help identify potential back-row players for the squad, said: “Having three very impressive and proven coaches like that working together gives the Lions a head start in South Africa. “They are used to working together - and I’m sure Rob Howley will fit in perfectly in his role. They all know each other very well and the close, intimate working relationship they will have can only boost the team’s chance of success. Having those guys leading the Lions into battle is a great reflection on Wasps as a club. They really are a coaching team, even before the tour starts. “I am sure the lessons of 2005 played a part in this set-up. The way the Lions are going to play will be transmitted very easily to the players. These are the best possible coaches. “Ian McGeechan has been there, done it all and worn the T-shirt. He’s the master at getting the best out of the very best players. He may seem quiet and unassuming but Geech is single minded and strong minded as well. If he wants something he usually gets it. And he will demand hard work, effort and professionalism from all those who go to South Africa. He’s not one of the most successful coaches world rugby has seen. To be successful Lions you need a very strong coaching team in place which I think we’ve got with Ian McGeechan leading the group. “Shaun is a straight forward, straight thinking coach who is also tactically outstanding. When he tells you to do something or try something different you listen and do it. He’s usually always right and knows what is needed to put the finer touches to the team’s defensive strategy. I got to know his ways and the man himself with Wasps - and he has brought an extra dimension to the team during his time. He is just the strong and motivational voice you need in a Lions Update 2009 magazine

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THE DREAM TEAM

dressing room when things are not going well. “Warren is as good a coach that I’ve ever known and certainly played under. He’s a demanding but very fair and likeable man. He also knows how to get the best out of players - and he’s perfect for the forwards job. He will pull all the right strings and get the pack in great shape to do their very best in the Tests.

}

~

Ian McGeechan Gets the best from players

“Just look how he transformed Wasps inside a few years. We were bottom of the table when he arrived. Then we won three successful Premierships and were European champions. His record is outstanding and I know all the players have the utmost respect for him - just ask the Irish and Welsh lads he has coached at international level. “Rob Howley was an outstanding player and has always had what it takes to be just as good at coaching. He’s a shrewd man who can teach the game as well as he played it. He’s another real asset to the back-room staff.” Dallaglio certainly endured the good, bad and ugly side of life with the Lions on his three trips to foreign soil. The good was being a member of the 1997 tourists who hit such heights in the series triumph over South Africa. The bad was being passed fit for the 2001 tour to Australia only for his knee to give way, cutting short his stay and needing reconstructive surgery. The ugly was that horrific fractured ankle sustained in the very first game against the Bay of Plenty which Ko’d his campaign in New Zealand in 2005 before it had hardly begun. Dallaglio admits: “Of course I wish things had gone differently in both Australia and New Zealand. But it wasn’t to be and I would rather look back on how it all went so well on my first tour to South Africa. When I was picked for that trip I was the proudest man of the planet. I was only 24 at the time and it was such a magnificent experience and

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Above: Warren Gatland and Lawrence Dallaglio pose for the camera at the London Wasps training Ground on May 19, 2004.

Lions Update 2009 magazine

Top right: (L-R) The British and Irish Lions coaching staff comprising Rob Howley, Ian McGeechan, Warren Gatland and Shaun

}

privilege just to board that plane and fly there with so many outstanding rugby players. “It was a feeling where I made some life-long friends with people from all the home unions and one I will put down as a big rugby highlight. The memories of that tour will always live with me and make me feel very lucky to have been involved. As for 2005, I’ve heard all sorts of things said and reasons given for us losing. But the plain fact was we weren’t good enough. You can analyse the coaches’ performance, Alistair Campbell’s performance, you can analyse anyone else’s performance. But, quite frankly, our players weren’t as good as their players. They had a lot more talent and class in their squad than we did. “We went down there with big reputations and a lot of those players - and I include Gavin Henson - didn’t live up to those reputations. Whether that was because they didn’t have the opportunity is a moot point. You can discuss that all day long. From what I saw when players did get an opportunity, they didn’t play particularly well.”

Warren Gatland Demanding, fair, likeable Edwards hold the new Lions shirt at the annoucement of the coaching staff for the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa at the HSBC offices on October 22, 2008 in Dublin, Ireland. Bottom right: Ian McGeehan, Lawrence Dallaglio and Shaun Edwards pose with the trophy in the dressing room after victory in the Guinness Premiership Final match between Leicester Tigers and London Wasps at Twickenham.

~

Now, however, Dallaglio would give anything to be a few years younger and as fit as he ever has been to partake in one more piece of Lions magic. He gets itchy feet just thinking of another Lions tour on the horizon. And he knows how proud and excited those lucky players selected by McGeechan will be when they take to the air and contemplate the kind of destiny that may lie before them. But he warns that only the special ones will get the chance to actually walk out wearing the Lions jersey for the Tests - with the cream of the touring crop being let loose to show their worth. He insists: “You need to get the selection right from the start because you can’t swap the players when you are over there. It’s one thing getting on the plane as a player, but it’s quite another to get picked in the team. Once you get on the plane,


HEAD COACH: IAN McGEEC HAN

Home Union: Scotland Current Position: Head Coach of London Wasps Lions Record: Playing 197 4 & 77, Coaching 1989, 93, 97 & 2005

}

~

Shaun Edwards Tactically outstanding

just because you happened to play well in the Six Nations that doesn’t give you any guarantees of being in the Test side. “There will no doubt be surprises along the way as it depends on who plays well whilst being out there on the hard grounds of South Africa. They will experience totally different conditions to the ones they are used to on British or Irish grounds. So you have to adapt quickly. Real characters are definitely needed as it’s not just about their ability, it’s also about lasting the distance and showing mental strength and fortitude as it’s not a two-week holiday, it’s a nine-week challenge.

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Rob Howley Shrewd backroom asset “Mind you, I might try and take a break over there myself for a while. I might sneak over there for one or two of the games. It’s very tempting because South Africa is a great country and tour. So I’ll definitely make it out there and cheer the lads on. They will need every friendly voice they can get because the South Africa people hero worship their players almost as much as the New Zealanders - and enjoy giving their visitors a kind word or two about how things are going to go! “But, seriously, it’s such a wonderful thing to be involved in you just wish all the players the very best. You hope they enjoy it and take the opportunity of going out and having fun and hopefully winning.”

~

Ian McG eec han is pro bab ly the mo st famous (and probably most successful) Lion of them all. Having toured twice as a play er and four times as a coach he has unrivalled experience of what it takes to be a Lion and a winning Lion at that. McGeechan ’s Lions career started on the famously successful 1974 tour to South Africa playing in 14 matches including all four of the test matches. His seco nd playing tour came on the 1977 tou r to New Zealand and saw Geech make 16 appearances for the Lion s, including all four Test s and the one off Test against Fiji on the way home. Ian captain ed the Lions on two of the provincial matche s on that tour to New Zealand. He also played in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee unofficial game against the Barbarians in 1977. McG eechan’s Lions coachin g career began in 1989 with the victorio us tour to Australia win ning the series 2-1. This was followed by a losing tour to New Zea land four years later and then followed tha t up with the last succ essful Lions tour to leave these shores. The tour in South Africa in 1997 was the first tour of the professiona l era and Geech was successful in orchestrating another fam ous win for the Lions by 2-1 in the Tests. Following a break in Lion s duty in 2001, he retu rned in 2005 to help take the midwee k side on an unbeate n run to successive wins, which unfortunat ely could not be replica ted by the full Test team with the All Blacks black-washing the Lion s 3-0. McGeechan takes the head coach’s reins once again in 200 9 for the fourth time in his career.

TOUR MANAGER: GERALD DAV

IES CBE Home Union: Wales Current Position: Nationa l Representative on WRU board Lions Record: Playing 196 8 & 71 One of the finest win gers of all time, Gerald Davies enjoyed a successful 12 year career, earning 46 caps for Wal es and scoring 20 tries. He also played dom estically for Cambridge University, London Welsh, Cardiff and the Barbarians. Davies is probably best remembered for his imm ense performances for the Lions in 1971 where he and fly half Barry John were instrum ental in the 2-1 series victory over New Zealand. Had he not dec lined to tour in 1974 and 1977, he wou ld probably have become the most capped winger in Lions history. After retiring as a play er, Davies started a career as a journalist, writ ing rugby articles for The Times. This has led to him being appoint ed in November 2007 as Tour Manager for the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour to South Afri ca, taking on the role held by Bill Beaumo nt in New Zealand in 2005 and Donal Lenihan four years befo re that in Australia.

FORWARD

S COACH: WARREN GATLAN D Home Union: New Zea land Current Position: Head Coach of Wales Lions Record: No record Gatland was born in New Zealand in 1963 and made his New Zealand B debut in 1988. Gatland was unfortunate in that his career coincided with one of the greatest All Blacks of all time in Sean Fitzpatrick, which mea nt that he never man aged to win a full international cap for New Zealand, despite being in and around the team for 6 years. His coaching experience star ted with stints in Ireland and Scotland befo re taking up the nationa l coach position in Ireland vacated by Bria n Ashton in 1998. His Irela nd career did not set the world on fire and ended with his assistan t Eddie O’Sullivan taking his postion and Gat land moved on to take three back to back premiership title’s and a Heineken Cup triumph in 2004 with London Wasps. He mov ed back to New Zealand to take up a position with former club Waikato in 2005, helping them to win the Air New Zealand cup. In December 2007, Gat land took up his current position as hea d coach of the Welsh nati onal rugby team and sensationally helped Wales clinch their tenth Grand Slam title, exactly 100 years after they won their first. In October 2008, it was announced that Warren Gatland would become the forwards coach for the 2009 British & Irish Lions tour.

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Lions Update 2009 magazine

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EDWARDS DEFENCE COACH: SHAUN

Home Union: England don Wasps e Coach of Wales and Lon Current Position: Defenc rd reco No : Lions Record d-off, league scrum half or stan ards is a former rugby eight Rugby rd reco a Nicknamed ~Gizmo~, Edw ning win ievements with Wigan, times for best known for his ach s. He was capped 36 and nine Challenge Cup and 1995 2 199 the in League Championships land Eng tries and also represented career in ul essf succ a e Great Britain, scoring 16 to mak t s. Edwards has gone on him as the world’s bes Rugby League World Cup ing crib des e onc son Matt Daw three successive English d rugby union coaching. inde term mas he , ren Gatland the coach. Together with War 3, 2004 and 2005, and hips with Wasps in 200 again as defence land Gat Rugby Union Champions with up ed and 2007. He team experience Heineken Cup in 2004 gain the international 7, which helped him & Irish Lions ish Brit 9 200 coach of Wales in 200 the for ch position of defence coa required to take up the tour.

Robson Head Doctor: Dr James d tland tlan Sco on: Uni e Hom ional Team Doctor of Sco of Medical Services / Nat having previously toured Current Position: Head tour ve essi succ fifth his tor for Lions Record: Team Doc 05. in 1993, 97, 2001 and on the national team as physio involved with the Scottish Union and the Lions by Dr Robson first became Rug with ion ciat inning a long asso will 1991 tour to Canada beg r since. His experience w successive tours eve y on tour. part ical med that his seen him follo the of s ed by the other member undoubtedly be welcom

ley Backs Coach: Rob How Home Union: Wales nt Coach of Wales Current Position: Assista 7 & 2001 199 ing Play : ord Lions Rec

scrumas one of the greatest ley is widely regarded tain after making cap as m Born October 1970, How the of 22 es, 59 caps for Wal selected halves of all time. He won red when Howley was y 1996. Excitement soa p with Joost ch-u mat l ntia his Wales debut in Februar pote a and s Tour to South Africa Test for the 1997 British Lion d him from making a ortunately injury prevente Lions in Irish & ish Brit the van der Westhuizen. Unf nted ese , but he eventually repr ing to appearance on the tour s, before again succumb playing the first two test e in ia, gam tral the Aus inst from aga ent 1 rem 200 his reti ed Howley to announce for injury. A wrist injury forc is now the attack coach He . ues /Bl RFC iff Card coach 2004 and he went on to . the Wales national team

mas Head of Media: Greg Tho es Wal on: Uni e Hom ancy Company of Sports Media Consult Current Position: Director Lions Record: No record tour of the Thomas family to not be the first member er on the 1955 play a was Born in 1963, Thomas will mas Tho s. His father, Clem London South Africa with the Lion esenting the All Whites, ing career includes repr , Randwick. In club ed bas tour. Greg’s rugby play ney Syd , Wales Students and Rugby Welsh, Welsh Universities ia Manager at the 1995 as the Australia Team Med tion and nisa orga of ety 1995, he took up a role vari a in ca. He has since worked ntly as World Cup in South Afri t sports and most rece ss a number of differen acro mas’s s role ion icat mun com World Cup in France. Tho 7 200 the at ia Med and out head of Communications and the media through team the een betw main link predecessor Alistair his role will be to form the by ally ersi trov con somewhat the tour, a job handled tour. Campbell on the 2005

Coach: Craig White Physical Conditioning land Home Union: Eng ager of Wales l Squad Performance Man Current Position: Nationa 5 200 g Lions Record: Coachin s coach since 1990 for team Strength and Conditioning ps Was with ition pos a up Craig has worked as a taking ed and the Irish RFU before s tour, having also tour including Waterloo RFC will be Craig’s second Lion tour 9 200 The 2. 200 duties will be to ensure RFU in te’s Whi . land Zea New to 5 party . with the unsuccessful 200 of the highest standard conditioning training is the players dietary and Analysis: Rhys Long Head of Performance es Home Union: Wal s of Wales of Performance Analysi Current Position: Head Lions Record: No record

in Sports neck injury to graduate No.8, Long overcame a London A former Welsh schools ance Analysis. A former orm Perf in MSc an 3 and ment team that won the Science at UWIC in 200 age man the of part , he was Long was Wasps~ Technical Analyst eken Cup in May 2007. Cup final and the Hein n in 2007. He not Unio by Anglo-Welsh Powergen Rug sh Wel for s ormance Analysi formance appointed Head of Perf also the entire elite per es national side, but management with k wor only supports the Wal to be will job on the 2009 tour to match. structure in Wales. Long’s formance from match to improve player per and players in helping needed too much! Hopefully he won’t be

Louise Ramsay MBE Operations Manager: Home Union: England ition Current Position: No pos 2005 Lions Record: Coaching

3, tour to ld Cup campaign in 200 on their successful Wor She Louise joined England New Zealand in 2004. and ia tral Aus to tour Summer winning her MBE as a Argentina in 2002 and tee mit Com pic Olym the British ager of previously worked with was appointed Tour Man a ten year period. Louise dwards appointment Woo result of that work over e Cliv as e tim e land at the sam recognised the 2005 tour to New Zea manage the tour were faith in her abilities to to Head Coach and his running of the tour. as crucial in the smooth y ager: Christine Connoll Communications Man Home Union: France Nations & British & Irish ications Manager for Six Current Position: Commun Lions Companies Lions Record: No record and the the British & Irish Lions been working for both will be responsible e stin Since 2000, Christine has Chri r. age Man as Communications nising Six Nations companies agement as well as orga tions for players and man . ded nee for organising official func be they replacements should the arrangements for any Cheetham Media Liaison: Louisa ’s from the USA) (She e Non on: Uni e Hom Nations & British & Irish ications Manager for Six mun Com n: itio Pos t Curren Lions Companies 2001 & 05. Lions Record: Coaching ncies. agement and sports age a background in sports man previous two and Cup ld Louisa joins the tour from Wor by Rug Zurich Premiership, She has worked with the in 2005. in 2001 and New Zealand Lions tours to Australia

Left to right: The British and Irish Lions management team of Greg Thomas head of media, Rob Howley, backs coach, Shaun Edwards, defence coach, Ian McGeechan head coach, Gerald Davies, tour manager, Warren Gatland, forwards coach, Craig White, conditiioning coach, Dr. James Robson, tour doctor and Rhys Long, performance analysist hold the new Lions shirt at the annoucement of the coaching staff for the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa at the HSBC offices on October 22, 2008 in Dublin, Ireland.

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Lions Update 2009 magazine


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AFTER

CONSULTING 1997 HERO MARTIN JOHNSON, LIONS CAPTAIN PAUL O’CONNELL HAS ORDERED…

Head-to-Head T

HE phone calls have already been made to the two legendary Lions giants who set the mould for resounding fame and glory in South Africa. And now Paul O’Connell intends to make good use of the priceless words of touring wisdom he has gleaned from both Willie John McBride and Martin Johnson. Ian McGeechan firmly believes that by choosing 6ft 6in, 17st 7lb Munster man O’Connell he has another goliath who can put the frightners on his South African rivals and move the odd mountain or two during the three Test series.

O’Connell, who has been waiting four long years to make up for the nightmare of that ill-fated New Zealand trip, reveals: “All you need is to get one or two gems from these guys and it’s well worth it. Anything you can take from anyone is always a big help and the more people you lean on for help the more ideas you can spark in your mind come the big moment. So it is important to get as much information and advice from those guys who have been there and done it before. “Willie John was a fair bit before my time. I wasn’t even born but I’ve seen clips of it on TV and read about what a great leader and man he was. The 1997 Lions success in South Africa under Martin was something to behold, take heed of and learn from. I don’t really know Martin that well but I remember watching him playing. I was just 17 in 1997 and very impressionable at the time. I watched him winning as Lions captain and the World Cup and Grand Slams with England. I rate the Springboks the most physical team in world rugby - even more physical than the All Blacks. “Historically, wherever the Lions have travelled on tour they have come up against opponents with tremendous strength and power. But this is potentially the biggest opposition the Lions have ever come across. The Springboks are a massive side and you have to take them on up front. The sheer

} I thought Geech’s call was a hoax ~ McBride - the successful 1974 skipper there - was carved out of solid County Antrim granite. Johnson - who did the same in 1997 - was sliced from solid Solihull steel. Now we have O’Connell - a 29-year-old second rower chiselled from impenetrable Limerick rock. And, having seen off good friend and team-mate Brian O’Driscoll to win Geech’s rubber stamp in charge, the big lock has already drawn up plans on how he too can join McBride, Johnson and company in Lions immortality.

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Lions Update 2009 magazine


THE BIG INTERVIEW

attrition physicality of their pack is what they pride themselves on and what they have been famed for so many years. “The maul has always been a major part of their game. And when you see the size and quality of their big guys you can see why that is so. They have always had a conveyor belt of forwards coming along to choose from. But they are not just about sheer brute strength. They have several world class backs who can destroy you with the ball if you give them too much space and time to do damage. I rate Bryan Habana and Jean de Villiers two of the best backs in the world. “During the World Cup they were also adept at constantly gaining good field position with their accurate kicking game. That enables them to keep the pressure on you, and that tells in the end. We must counter-act that.” O’Connell, who was a rock upon which Ireland captured only their second ever Grand Slam earlier this year, is clearly fully aware of what is needed to upset the odds and lead this latest Lions party to another great success. Like McBride and Johnson, he is a man of few words and little emotion when he talks about the game. But when he does, you listen intently and carefully. And so does everyone else in the room with you. Because they are words that mean so much and hit home hard. And, also similar to Willie John and Johnno, he has a very dry and likeable sense of humour once he slips away from the

steely focus and mentality which has helped him deal with plenty of awkward second row customers on the battlefields around the world. Asked about the phone call from McGeechan to inform him of the captaincy, O’Connell admits: “I saw an English phone number had tried to get in touch with me a few times. I thought it was someone trying to sell me insurance! I also had some guy on the mobile - another from England - trying to sell me shares. So I was avoiding it. But I eventually rang the number back and it was Geech. But a couple of my Irish team-mates have also done crank calls in the past and I half expected it to be one of them when I first spoke to Geech! Once I was assured the Geech accent was a good one and not a hoax I was happy!” And, when asked why the Lions had enlisted such an “old Dad’s Army of a pack” to take with them to the Southern Hemisphere this time around, he responds: “You’re only as old as your last result. If we win that First Test in Durban we will all feel 21 again! “We’re not building for the future are we? We’re going there to try and win a Test series. As Geech says, it’s about getting Lions Update 2009 magazine

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THE BIG INTERVIEW

the right players together to do the job this summer. There’s plenty of experience and talent there. It’s about having those guys able to let their guard down amongst each other on and off the field when we need to so that we can gel as a team. That’s something that wasn’t evident last time in New Zealand. “We’ve got players like Simon Shaw who was on that tour in 2005, so some of the guys have been on the plane before. It’s just a smaller group and, may be, that will help us show ourselves off as more of a team. There are some older forward hands in the squad who know what is needed to beat the Springboks. I think we all realise that to beat them you have to go head to head. If you try and go round them you straight away don’t stand a chance.” O’Connell believes that his on-the-field relationship with the man he pipped for the captaincy will be as strong and as important as ever when the team walk out for the first match. But he insists: “Being made captain ahead of Brian O’Driscoll isn’t going to cause any problems between him and me. Whenever I have played under Brian I have said nothing more or less than I would have done had I been captain. I’ve spoken to Brian and he’s cool about it. “As far as I’m, concerned, the more people who have an input, who drive things on, the more successful we will be. I never aspired to become Lions captain and when I was out injured last year and the World Cup had not gone to plan I certainly didn’t think it would happen. I’ve always had short term goals in my career. This is a massive honour, although it wasn’t something I had aspired to. When you look at the captains who have gone before, they are legends of the game and this is an incredible thing for me. But now it is about winning on tour. “Winning the series would be incredible. It is not something that happens very often, so it makes the achievement all the more special. When you look at the players who won in South Africa in 1997 they are legends now.To achieve that in South Africa against the world champions would be an amazing achievement.” “This is my second tour and I learned a lot of things in 2005. The players really have to

} I have no problems with O’Driscoll ~ front up on this tour. We had a lot of excuses in New Zealand in 2005 but I just put it down as an experience. I like to take the rough with the smooth but admittedly that was a very tough tour. Every player has his ups and downs and I’m no different. “Clive Woodward tried to take a lot more players believing that was the right thing to do because rugby has become such an attritional game. But the trade off there was that we probably didn’t gel well enough as a team. But those excuses aren’t going to be there on the 2009 tour. We must have no excuses at all this time round. “We have to front up and produce the goods, which is something we didn’t do four years ago. It is down to the players to take this tour by the scruff of the neck It is going to be an immensely difficult challenge. The Springboks are the world

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champions, but then that’s what makes it all the more exciting. “South Africa have got a fabulous side. They are immensely disciplined - you only have to look at their performances in the Rugby World Cup to see that. they are a top class side who aren’t champions of the world for nothing. There are so many obstacles in our way, and so many challenges ahead of us, but that’s what makes this tour so special.” As far as Head Coach McGeechan is concerned, O’Connell has the right attributes to thrive under the enormous burden of Lions captain. The Scot insists: “Paul has shown over his career that he is a natural leader both on and off the field. He leads from the front on the field and as a quality international has the respect of his fellow players all over the world. “As a member of the 2005 tour to New Zealand he played in five matches including three Tests so knows all about the ethos and challenges of Lions tours. I look forward to working with him and the entire squad over the coming months as we strive to develop a side that can add a successful chapter in the long history of the Lions.”


.


} Beat the Lions

~

and retain World Cup - that’s my plan

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Lions Update 2009 magazine


DE VILLIERS

NOT

WANTED BECAUSE HE WAS BLACK , BUT

PETER

DE

VILLIERS

SAYS…

Hardship has helped me Focuhse on tks Bo h coac

is a man on a special mission - and part of that mission is to turn the British and Irish Lions into a bunch of pussycats when they meet the Springboks in his own backyard. If the Springboks can pack as much punch and drive on the field as their Head Coach delivers behind the scenes, then the Lions could be in for a rough ride. For de Villiers - hellbent on also making sure the Boks retain their World Cup crown in New Zealand next year - is clearly not a man to mess with or upset. He is a fierce task master whose own very hard upbringing and playing and coaching apprenticeship has left its mark on someone who knows how to handle the enormous pressure that comes from doing one of rugby’s toughest jobs. A thick skin certainly helped the 52-year-old survive the early days when he stepped into the hotseat vacated in acrimonious fashion in January 2008 by World Cup winning coach Jake White. As the Boks first non-white Springboks Head Coach, he became an immediate target of those prepared to pour scorn and whip-up opposition in an effort to undermine his tenure. Trying to succeed a man who had just led South Africa to the promised land in Paris with that memorable World Cup Final victory over England was a hard act to follow. The fact he got the nod by a single vote and that he beat off four other top contenders for the job including the then successful Bulls coach, and later Leicester boss, Heyneke Meyer, raised the temperature to boiling point. But de Villiers proved he has not developed a rhino-hide for nothing, and with it the capacity to dodge the verbal bullets with a man-management technique that has continued to defy his meanest critics. The man who wore the No9 jersey during the apartheid era led the Boks to nine wins and four defeats last year, including triumphs over Australia and New Zealand. South Africa went unbeaten on their tour of Britain last autumn where they thrashed England 42-6 at Twickenham. At no stage has de Villiers revealed an inability to come to terms with one of the toughest posts in the game. On the contrary, he appears to be relishing a golden opportunity to stamp his mark on Springbok history by masterminding a Lions series defeat and the retention of the Boks World Cup crown next year. He says: “I knew people didn’t want me in the job because I was black. But then I thought, if they want me to be ten times better than I am, I have to achieve that status. I have got this dream. I am going to live the dream, and fulfil it. “I am certainly not intimidated by this job. Having had some time doing it now I feel I am growing and improving as a coach with every game the team plays. It is a challenge which is a very enjoyable one and a satisfying one for me personally. I am strong character. I have come through the hardships of life. I am stronger for surviving those circumstances. “There were times when I thought I wasn’t part of rugby any more. I felt people didn’t want me, people had forgotten about me, and despite my record, people weren’t interested in me. “The colour of my skin caused some bad moments in my

life. But good moments too. The truth is, I would never be where I am now but for the colour of my skin. By that, I mean I used that to get where I am. “Right now my only concern is about being successful and maintaining the proud tradition and reputation of the Springboks. I am leading a team who are the world champions. Failure for me would be to lose that title at the next World Cup. There is a weight of responsibility and expectation on my shoulders. But that’s good because I’d rather be coach of a top team than one struggling and fighting to get off the bottom. Pressure comes from losing matches and not knowing how to change things. So far things have gone well for me, but this is a big year and the Lions series is the pinnacle of it.” You can bet emotions in both the Springboks and Lions camps will certainly run high the closer it gets to the first Test at Durban on Saturday, June 20. But Ian McGeechan and his men can expect to face a South African coach eager to fire a verbal volley or two in the build-up. de Villiers is not short of controversial opinion if he feels one of his players, or the team as a whole, has been wronged. Last year he labelled the All Blacks ‘cheats’ during last year’s TriNations. He said at the time: “I know the game. Technically, I’m very strong. When I said the All Blacks were cheaters in the first Test in Wellington, I picked up some of the technical stuff they did wrong in the scrums and how they played outside of the laws and how they used that to good effect. “I noted also that, instead of standing a metre apart in the line-outs, they stood a metre and a half apart so that we couldn’t compete - and anything outside the laws is cheating.” De Villiers’ ability to persuade influential John Smit to continue as captain certainly helped smooth his path in the role in 2008. But it’s hardly been a bump free road with controversy over his squad selection and axing of certain stars. De Villiers certainly has an exciting and established core to

PETER de VILLIERS

Caption

»

Lions Update 2009 magazine

45


DE VILLIERS

Peter de Villiers Fact-File 1996: COACHED 1997: TOOK

AMATEUR CLUB TYGERBERG

OVER

WESTERN PROVINCE DISAS

1998: ASSISTANT COACH WESTERN PROVINCE (3RD 1999 U19WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP)

AND

SA U19

2004: COACH SA U21 (3RD U21 WORLD CHAMP 2004, WINNERS 2005, 2ND 2006) 2007: COACH EMERGING SPRINGBOKS (WINNERS 2007 NATIONS CUP) 2008: HEAD

COACH

SA,

REPLACING JAKE

WHITE

IN JANUARY

»

his squad and players like John Smit, Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Schalk Burger and Bryan Habana are certainties, if they remain free of injury, to make the Test side to face the Lions. His reign began with some interesting player experiments. The Springboks’ first training squad under De Villiers comprised 42 players, included sixteen of colour. Dick Muir and Gary Gold came in as assistant coaches. He had to handle problems with scrum-half Ricky Januarie, who was dropped for “disciplinary reasons”. Francois Steyn and Ruan Pienaar were axed during the last Tri Nations, although their omission failed to stop the Boks heading to defeat against the All Blacks and Wallabies. de Villiers stuck to his guns and his side repaid him by trouncing the Wallabies 53-8. South Africa’s successful campaign here last Autumn showed they are still very much in the ascendancy despite one or two less than convincing victories over Scotland and Wales. But, for de Villiers, it will have little bearing on the outcome of the forthcoming bloody and bruising battles with Ian McGeechan’s Lions. He insists: “I have never been one to concentrate too much on past results because things change - teams change and so do venues. We did well last Autumn but could have played better. Yet we had one or two guys missing and still managed to come back home unbeaten. And I was delighted with the way we finished against England. That showed what kind of spirit and desire there is in the squad. The competition is very fierce and all the guys know they need to perform week in week out to maintain their place in it. “The Lions are a special team with all their history, tradition and esteem. It will be a special occasion which millions of South Africans are very much relishing. It also promises to be a spectacular event and, hopefully, a winning one for the Springboks. “Unfortunately, because of the apartheid situation during my years as a player, I never got to play in a World Cup. But what the team achieved in 1995 and then 2007 was unbelievable and so fantastic for the country. I would love to be able to repeat it during my time in charge of team matters. But that’s for the future. We have the Lions to deal with first and two more years to build and improve the side.” De Villiers has already turned up the heat on the Lions by challenging his opposite number. “If McGeechan wants to sit down and try to match the Springboks, then I think that is the wrong thing. If he wants to say ‘this is our strength, this is how we want to play the game, these are the people who can do the job for me’ then I can justify any selection he has made. “But I will not sit down and say ‘they are going to do that, so I should do this’. I am more focused on what I want to do and I will find the talent and the players to do the job for us.”

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Lions Update 2009 magazine

Above: Habana


.


} I’ve waited 12 years for revenge ~ BIG

John Smit has waited twelve long, soul-searching years to erase the psychological scars left behind by Jeremy Guscott’s drop goal. And that’s why the 50th man to lead South Africa into rugby war is hell bent on revenge and erasing that painful memory. The British Lions are here, and as far as record-breaker Smit is concerned they have not arrived on the dark continent too soon! He admits: “What happened back in 1997 when the Lions turned us over big time is a massive motivating factor for every South Africa. It’s something that will certainly fire me up against them again. “The past two Lions series against Australia and New Zealand have not meant much to us because we have only been able to recollect the series twelve years ago. We have had to deal with that every day since then. “It’s always at the back of your mind and eating away at you when the TV show replays of Guscott’s moment and other stuff. You want to turn the TV off but you also want to watch the clips just to remind yourself about how important it is to put the record straight this time. “I’m absolutely fed up of seeing Guscott’s happy face - and the rest of the Lions players hugging each other and jumping around. They spoiled our party back then but we don’t intend to let them do it again.” Smit was a mere 19-year-old fresh-faced forward who was thrown into action for Natal against the elite tourists on that tour. He has since established himself as one of the most highly-respected players in world rugby and has steered his country to both Tri-Nations and Rugby World Cup successes. But that brush with the Lions clearly had a major affect on him at such a young age. He recalls: “I had no real idea what it was all about until I stepped foot onto the pitch to play the Lions for Natal. It was a real eye opening experience and something that helped lay down the foundation for the player and person I have become. I was a young guy, trying to make his mark as a professional player. I was lucky in my second first-class game to pack down against Jason Leonard and he gave me his shirt, which I’ve still got, which was a very special moment. “To think that I’m sitting in this chair thinking about actually doing it again twelve years later and for South Africa is even more special. The 1997 series was a difficult series to lose due to the profile that a British Lions tour has in South Africa and also because of the importance and tradition associated with it. We treasure it back home due to the passion we have for the game.” Smit’s leadership qualities came to the fore in the 2007 Rugby World Cup, his calm under pressure and inspirational captaincy seeing South Africa win the trophy for the second time. Last year the fierce and versatile front row competitor - he has played most of his career as hooker but has also filled in as prop in recent times - surpassed prop Os du Randt as the Springboks’ most capped forward.. He certainly would not have envisaged enjoying such a successful and illustrious playing career when he took his first steps onto a rugby field for Pretoria Boys High School where he was also head prefect between 1994 and 1996. Smit played his first Springbok game in 2000 at the age of 22, when South Africa beat Canada 51-18 at Basil Kenyon Stadium in East London. He was on and off of the reserve bench until 2004 when he was made captain of the squad by then new coach Jake White. He put his captaincy on the line when he chose to move to French club Clermont after the 2007 World Cup. But the South African Rugby Union stuck by him despite being less than happy at losing the inspirational leader to European club rugby. But, after only completing half of his planned twoyear deal in France, Smit switched back to Super 14 side Natal Sharks If you do not have the hide of a rhino, you would never survive five minutes as captain or coach of South Africa. Smit, who has worn the armband since 2004, certainly needed a tough skin during his reign as captain under head coach White, who guided them to World Cup glory before Peter de Villiers succeeded him. Smit has won 80 caps and his remarkably successful time as Springboks skipper puts him shoulder to shoulder with former captaincy greats Gary Teichmann and Francois Pienaar. He says: “The opportunity to play against the Lions again was the big reason for me to come back to South Africa to play club rugby so that I could be available for selection. I’m not getting any younger and I was so desperate to be picked for this series. But to captain the Springboks

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against the Lions is something dreams are made of. It’s rugby heaven which doesn’t get any better. Winning the World Cup was incredible but there is something very, very special to play a part in a series against the Lions. It’s difficult to explain.” Smit believes last Autumn’s European campaign - where his side proved too strong and too skilful for the likes of England, Wales and Scotland will certainly help the Springboks attempt to see off this latest Lions challenge. The Boks - with far from a full-strength squad - laid down the gauntlet to the Lions with hard-fought victories at the Millennium Stadium (20-15) and Murrayfield (14-10) but also ran out emphatic 42-6 victors at Twickenham. He says: “We realised quite quickly that the world champions’ scalp was highly coveted. We had challenges in the first game where we lifted our foot of the gas but came on strong when we had to lift our game. Then going in ten points down at half-time against Scotland was another big mental and physical challenge which we had to learn from. But yet again the team came through and was able to deal with all that criticism and put in a good performance in our last game against England. “It was the end of a very long, hard season for all the guys and they all deserved to put their feet up and have a good rest. But now we’re getting closer and closer to the Lions and you can feel the excitement and expectation building around South Africa. It’s going to be the most wonderful rugby experience, two of the most historic teams in an oldschool three-Test series. South Africans will lap it up.” Smit picks two Lions who could prove dangerous. They are Welsh duo Andy Powell and Shane Williams. The former is considered favourite to wear the No8 jersey in the Tests while it will be a surprise if wing magician Williams misses out on the opening game of the series in Durban. “We always expected them to pick strong and aggressive forwards, which indicates that they see the scrum and the line-outs as the key elements of the contest. There is depth in every position, which is what they will need on a long and tough tour. We expect there will be strong competition for places in all positions, which will make things interesting for us. “It seems wrong to pick out individuals because there are always surprises. But I was impressed with Andy Powell when we played Wales before Christmas. Powell got the Man of the Match and he gave a very powerful performance against us. He’s one of the newcomers on the block and looks the part from what I have seen of him. He’s strong and mobile - and will be a key player for the Lions. “Shane Williams is a real danger man. He has very quick feet and a quick brain. He is like tackling a bar of soap when he is on form. We will need to keep an eye on him. But there could also be other players who put their hands up and play out of their skins. That’s what makes this series so exciting and competitive. “The captain O’Connell is a team man who is well respected internationally and it is obvious they are trying to replicate the vibe and momentum they had with the same coach in 1997 and when another lock, Martin Johnson, was the captain. “The Lions will have a big, strong pack. And they will come here with the usual determination and desire not to let down the jersey. There are many similarities between the way South Africans and the British and Irish players approach their rugby. We play hard, fair and give it everything. That’s in our nature as rugby players. “Nobody wants to lose. We hate losing. But when we do, we walk off the field shaking hands and give credit to the opposition for the way they have performed. It’s what makes rugby such a magnificent game. A man’s game. “I’m sure win or lose it will be the same when the Lions come here. It’s not just about playing rugby. It’s also about making friends and having a wonderful time together. I’m sure all those guys in the Lions squad will remember this tour for the rest of their lives. Many of them know what it is like to come here. But when they are wearing a Lions jersey they become bigger targets for us!”

GUSCOTT


SMIT

Dynasty of CAPTAINS THE 28 LIVING SPRINGBOK CAPTAINS: SS “Bassie” Viviers, J Claassen, DC Van Jaarsveldt, AS Malan, GF Malan, CM Smit, DJ de Villiers, TP Bedford, JFK Marais, PJF Greyling, M du Plessis, MTS Stofberg, W Claassen, DJ Serfontein, HE Botha, JC Breedt, JF Pienaar, CP Strauss, AJ Richter, GH Teichmann, CPJ Krige, J Erasmus, JH Van der Westhuizen, AN Vos, RB Skinstad, JW Smit, Victor Matfield and Johann Muller.

- I hate that smile Lions Update 2009 magazine

49


Head-to-Head in the veld SPRINGBOK LEGEND GARY TEICHMANN HIGHLIGHTS THE PERSONAL BATTLES THAT COULD DECIDE THE TEST SERIES

WHEN

it comes to sizing-up Ian McGeechan’s Pride of Lions in South Africa, nobody is better qualified to analyse the contest than Springbok legend Gary Teichmann. Now retired and working as contracts director for his family’s vast plant hire company in Durban, the man who captained South Africa 36 times was given the task of assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the best of both squads when he led the Springboks against Martin Johnson’s British Lions in the last series in South Africa 12 years ago. This time the pressure is off for the retired No8, who represented his country on 42 occasions between 1995-99. But Teichmann has been no less diligent in running the rule over the players involved in this series than he was in planning tactics for the first Lions Test in Capetown on 21st June 1997, which resulted in defeat for his side and subsequent humiliation in the series. So, how does Teichmann, regarded as one of the finest captains of one of the best ever Springbok teams, rate the outcome of the mighty head-to-head clashes we eagerly await in the 2009 series? Here, the 42 year-old Gwelo, Zimbabwe born No8, who led South Africa to a world record equalling run of 17 Test wins in succession, assesses five key duels that could influence the outcome of the series, which begins in his home city of Durban on June 20.

WING

BRIAN HABANA v SHANE WILLIAMS BOTH players, on their day, are real matchwinners. Shane would not have been named the World Player of the Year had he not been top drawer. However, both players have not been as sharp as they can be.. The trouble with quality players like these two is that the expectations on them are so high, as are their own expectations. When they hit a slump and are not scoring tries as they did previously, people say they are off-form. I think Shane will benefit from the harder grounds here. He also benefits from his smaller size, his ability and

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Lions Update 2009 magazine

agility. But Brian’s own outstanding speed, agility and strength are probably the greatest factors in his game. For wings of this quality to perform at their ultimate best, and deliver match-winning tries, it is all dependent on the quality of the centres they have inside them to deliver the right type of ball that sets them on their way. I know that Shane did skin Brian on the Wales tour to South Africa last year but he got a bit of space during those games and I don’t expect that to happen again if he is picked this time.


HEAD TO HEAD

FLY HALF

RUAN PIENAAR v STEPHEN JONES THIS is the one position in our team where we are under-strength, so it will be a great confidence boost and experience for Pienaar to make the Test side. Butch James is certain not to be playing because he has been over in Europe so we will be losing his experience and we will also be losing the reliability of Percy Montgomery in terms of kicking for goals, which are bound to be vital in these games. The selection process will cause big headaches for the South Africa coaches. With regard to Stephen Jones and all the experience

he brings with him, it will be a huge plus against a player who has not had that many Tests in the position. In the Six Nations, he certainly got the backline going for Wales but, sometimes with Pienaar, it is about not having the fear of failure because he is young. Pienaar has great flair. He is capable of doing some great things, but Stephen Jones possesses that allimportant goal-kicking aspect of his game. From a South Africa viewpoint, this goalkicking side of things worries me most.

HOOKER

JOHN SMIT v LEE MEARS I have no doubt at all that John Smit will get one over on Lee Mears if they both play in the Tests. John is a real quality, top-class hooker and one of the best around while Lee is a good, aggressive player - a small guy in stature but big in heart. This will be his first tour with the Lions and, although he has played against South Africa before, he missed out on the big one, the World Cup final in 2007 when Mark Regan and George Chuter were the hookers in the England team that played the Springboks. John was there and lead by example in the most pressurised situation possible. Mears has now established

himself with England but John has been in the position as his country’s first choice hooker for some time now. Over the three Tests, John will come up on top of the Lions’ hookers but, in saying that, he has needed to play a lot more than he has this year. He has been on and off the bench and has needed game-time. He’s been rested a lot and then gone in at tight-head prop. He has needed to get a full 80 minutes of rugby under his belt at hooker and, if he has not done that in the last few Super 14 matches of the season before the Lions tour, then that could possibly give Mears a slight edge. Although that is about all I can give him.

LOCK

VICTOR MATFIELD v PAUL O’CONNELL THIS has the look of becoming one of the great contests of the Test matches. Two big, tough men who will not concede an inch to the other. Both players are very different in their own right. I must say I was very impressed by Paul O’Connell’s performances in the recent Six Nations Championship. He is the sort of guy who wants to get stuck-in, similar in style to Mark Andrews. He also has the ability to run the line-out effectively and will, I am sure, want to lead by a clear example as the captain of the Lions.

I don’t doubt that Paul O’Connell will rise to the challenges placed on him in both his own game and that of leading his team. But Victor Matfield offers something different. For one, he gets around the park a bit more, and you can quite often find him up in the back-line and taking the ball through second and third phases. If a game is tight during the tour, I think O’Connell will have the greater influence, but I don’t doubt that this will be a physical and raw contest between two great players in their positions.

BLINDSIDE FLANKER

JUAN SMITH v DAVID WALLACE WHAT South Africa have done in the past - and got away with it - is to have three loose forwards who have been similar in type. This is because, where Schalk Burger runs with the ball, so does Juan Smith. The line-outs, at the back, will also be a big issue. Andy Powell, if he plays, is not a real line-out specialist and South Africa may have an advantage when it comes to that area. This is where South Africa are strong because they

have a lot of experience in that department. Pierre Spies and Ryan Kankowski are both pretty useful in the line-outs. So, it may be that David Wallace will have to do extra work there which could give Juan Smith an edge on him.I have been impressed with Wallace as well. He is in some good form and, although he has got some strong competition for the jersey from Martyn Williams and Alan Quinlan, I think he will play in the Tests. Lions Update 2009 magazine

51


WILLIAMS

YOU

could safely expect the IRB Player of the Year to be confident of gaining certain selection for the 2009 British Lions Tour to South Africa. Wrong. Shane Williams feared the worst when Welsh legend and tour manager Gerald Davies read the names of those lucky enough to be awarded the greatest honour that can be bestowed upon a British player. The Welsh wing, and just about the best player on the planet in 2008, was with his Ospreys team-mates taking a break from training at the WRU headquarters near Llantrisant when the squad was announced in April. Williams, named IRB golden boy just four months earlier, believed his pretty average form in the Six Nations would count against his selection, despite that IRB crowning, selection as 2008 RBS Six Nations Player of the Year, and record number of tries for his country in steering them to two Grand Slams. The 32 year-old Welsh wizard recalled that moment of anxious suspense on April 21. “Some of the boys had been upstairs watching television. They came down and told us what was happening, which was a bit difficult because some of the players were selected and some not. “It was quite a strange way to find out. There was no inkling or indication prior to the announcement that any of us would make the tour. So, if you say I was relieved, it would be an understatement. “I knew, with a few niggling injuries, that my performances were not as good as I wanted, yet I felt it was going well at the start of the Six Nations. “I played very well in the Scotland game; tore ligaments in my ankle and missed the England game; got back for the French game for which, if I’m honest, I was not 100 per cent fit; and struggled after that. “I would be the first person to admit I was not playing as well as I have been but I’ve got back a bit of form recently and have started to play some decent rugby again. I’m more determined than ever to be very successful on this tour. “Of course, it was a relief whether you are playing well or not. Just to be there (in the squad), you don’t really care - you are there. I have not been playing at the top of my game and I knew a lot of boys were playing better, I never assumed I was an automatic choice for the squad. “I knew how I had been playing prior had nothing to do with it, it was whether or not the coaches felt I would be the

right selection and I knew that from day one. “So even when people started putting in their own British Lions teams and my name wasn’t in there, I didn’t pay any attention at all because I knew, week in and week out, that things could change. “So, yes, of course it was a relief. I’m just grateful now that I’ve been given the chance to go. I’m very hungry to play and I’m getting back to full fitness, so I’m really excited about this tour and I want to go over there and show everyone I am the right person to do the job and the selection was the correct one.” A house stacked with trophies is testament to his credentials and, even at the wrong side of thirty (32), his competitive edge remains razor sharp. “As a professional rugby player, I always want to do better. I felt I played very well in the season before the awards and during the 2008 Grand Slam. “When I was asked in interviews, I said I could play better and I knew I could. I know now I can play better again. “I don’t like losing and I’ll be open and say that. For instance, if I go playing tennis today, I will want to be better at it tomorrow. That’s just the way I am and that’s the way I have always been, very competitive. Unfortunately, I can’t have it any other way.” An on-form Williams is a proven match-winner - just ask Springboks wing sensation Bryan Habana, who has been

} I knew my form had been poor ~

skinned by the Welshman twice in the past few years. The pair are friends off the field but, on it, that relationship is forgotten. Hostilities are set to be resumed on June 20 at the ABSA Stadium, Durban. Surely, Habana, the man who once raced a cheetah, has learned a few lessons about Williams from those two drubbings? “Probably my left-foot step,” says the Ospreys ace. “A lot was made of the Williams-Habana thing and it is great, but I’m sure Bryan will have forgotten that now. “The reason why Bryan and I have this kind of rivalry is because we have such mutual respect for each other. I think

»

The Destroyer By Jason Robinson LITTLE Billy Whizz used to lead the Southern Hemisphere powerhouses a merry dance with his amazing dancing, side-stepping feet. And Jason Robinson is convinced that a diminutive Welshman with a similar panache for the soft-shoe shuffle can waltz his way across the South Africa line many times in the coming weeks. Shane Williams may have struggled this season to live up to the tall reputation imposed upon him this season, but, as far as former England and Lions hero Robinson is concerned, the 2008 IRB Player of the Year will shine in the 2009 Lions spotlight. Robinson, a playing colleague of

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Williams on the 2005 tour to New Zealand, says: “I always love watching Shane play. He is fantastic, the kind of player I can really relate to. He’s got special talents and he excites me every time I get to see him in action. “People compare us because of his running style and his size. That’s a compliment to me because he’s one of the best wings in world rugby and a real entertainer who the crowd love to see. He is also a nightmare for defences, even the Southern Hemisphere powers. “When he’s on the top of his form he can destroy teams. He doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone. He’s had his fair share of injuries, which affect us all over the years. But he’s bounced back

from those and is still such a major player on the international stage. “I’m sure the Springboks would rather the Lions hadn’t picked him. They know just how tricky an opponent he is to keep quiet. They will know you just can’t give him an inch of space, or he’s gone and you’ve conceded points. I played against Shane a few times for England and it wasn’t something I enjoyed. I preferred to play against somebody who was bigger because there was a lot more to grab hold of! You struggle to defend against Shane because there will always be periods of broken play in a game. When he gets the ball he is just able to pick off

»


WILLIAMS

SO

WHAT DOES

IRB

GOLDEN BOY

SHANE WILLIAMS

MAKE OF HIS LIONS SELECTION?

What a relief! Lions Update 2009 magazine

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WILLIAMS

» Bryan is a great player and I hope he thinks I am pretty good as well. “We have met each other several times now, I’ve played against him enough and shared a room with him when we were with the Barbarians. He is a great guy and we get on really well. But, when we are on the field, it is war and I will be determined to do the same thing again this time.” Habana is a huge asset to the Boks, a player who can turn a game on its head in an instant, but the world champion’s pose threats from all parts of the field. Williams admits: “They are a very good South African side, very physical and with a big backline full of pace - and a backrow also full of pace. “Physically, we are going to have to match them. But what the Lions have got at the moment is a good selection of players. We have not gone for the big, physical, robust players. They have a lot of pace behind which I think, even though South Africa have a very good defence and quick backthree, we can certainly compete with and beat. “I think the contest in the pack will be enormous. We have picked a big, attacking front row, whoever plays. Paul O’Connell is going to bring a structured line-out game, which you need against South Africa because they are very good at the set-pieces, especially defensive lineouts, winning a lot of the opposition ball. They are athletes as well.” There are key players all over the park. “Certainly for South Africa you have players like Schalk Burger, while Jean De Villiers is a key member of the side. Where else do you look? Bryan Habana behind the pack, who has hit some form recently, JP Pietersen is playing very well. I could be here all day naming them, to be honest.” Williams points to one area of weakness in the Boks line-up he believes the Lions could target. Ruan Pienaar, favourite for the flyhalf hot-seat as replacement for the legendary Butch James, who is missing completely from the Springboks squad, lacks the necessary experience to fill the key position, says Williams. “You want to target people who are lacking in experience, especially in these massive games. I’m not saying Pienaar will be without confidence, but lack of experience can bring lack of confidence.” Williams reckons the key confrontation will be the battle between Pienaar and the Lions No10. “Outside-half is the most

forwards and even some outside backs and skin them. I think he is just brilliant to watch and I would like to think there was a mutual respect between us. Shane certainly deserved to be the IRB Player of the Year last year. He was fantastic and his achievement was almost greater because he was so small. We all see the big striding wingers about now, but here we have the little pocket rocket. There is always a place for a player like Shane if you have the ability. He gets people on their feet and people want Shane Williams to get the ball. I, too, want that now as a spectator. I want to see guys like Shane with the ball in his hands, in space and doing what he does best. A talent like that you are never going to stop, whatever the size, and that is the great thing about rugby. “It is still the only sport where it doesn’t matter what shape or size you are. You can be fat, thin, short or tall

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Above: Williams

influential player on the field, whether it be Stephen Jones, Ronan O’Gara or someone else. The games these days are won and lost at number ten. Maybe, South Africa’s inexperience in that position gives us an advantage over them.” The appointment of Welsh coaches Warren Gatland, Shaun Edwards and Rob Howley as assistants to McGeechan is also of benefit, Williams claims. “We are used to their methods. We know what to expect

and there is a position for you in rugby.” Some critics felt Williams was fortunate to make Ian McGeechan’s 37strong tour squad with is own form suffering in disappointing Ospreys team, who finished well behind Munster in the Magners League and were embarrassed by the Irish outfit in the Heineken Cup. But the 32-year-old has always been a big game player. And, having played in the ill-fated 2005 tour to New Zealand, he showed just how devastating he can be then with a record-equalling five-try haul against Manawatu. That is clearly why McGeechan felt he had to take the tiny tornado from Swansea - who has had to battle back from elbow and shoulder surgery in the last two years - with him to play on the hard and fast South African pitches. Robinson, who was a rugby league legend before he switched to union, is that rare beast, having played for the Lions in both codes. His status as a Hall

of Fame rugby player is secure. Robinson, who won 51 caps for England, could easily have been talking about himself instead of Shane Williams. He was English rugby’s great entertainer. But it was on the Lions tour to Australia in 2001 that Robinson, as a recent union convert, really made his name. His outrageous try in the first Test victory over the Wallabies, when he skinned full-back Chris Latham, at the Gabba in Brisbane, will live long in the memory. Robinson played alongside Rob Howley in that Test series defeat to the Aussies, since when his former teammate has gone on to help coach Wales and is now preparing to do the same for the Lions in South Africa. “Rob knows what it takes and had the experience of not just playing for the Lions but captained them as well in a Test. That is vital because you need to know how the players are affected and how to get the best out of them. You


Why I wanted to quit SHANE WILLIAMS

admits he almost quit the game seven years ago. He was unfit, overweight, and his social life was a mess, writes Gary Baker. He recalls: “The year 2002 was not a happy one. Playing for Neath, I was getting injured quite regularly. I lost a bit of form, and was being criticised for being too small. “I kind of had the world on my shoulders. I let it get to me. I put on weight. I struggled to be fit for matches because I was not playing. My social life was mess. I was going out pretty much twice a week because my head had gone. “I got up in the middle of the night once. I just couldn’t sleep. I asked myself ‘shall I give-up the game?’. “I need to kick myself up the backside and grow up. I needed to get fit, get back into the Welsh squad and prove a few people wrong. I have never looked back. It was the biggest decision I’ve made. Life-changing.” That moment of self-analysis through troubled times is typical of a player who has remained level-headed throughout all the glitz and glamour of rugby fame. Shane remains faithful and grateful to lifelong friends living in his home village on the edge of the Brecon Beacons, despite his celebrity lifestyle. “I’m a down-to-earth guy, really, and I still live in the same area where I grew up. Most of the friends I have got I played football and rugby with. The majority of them I was in primary school with. “So there are still the same faces, still the same mickey-taking which keeps my feet on the ground. They haven’t treated me any differently from day one to now. They still make fun of me and I would not have it any other way.” A decent footballer, Shane was once due to play in a cup final for from them. We know their personalities and how they work. That is advantageous for us and, in saying that, there are a lot of Irish players also who have worked with this trio, especially Warren, who was in charge of Ireland from 1998-2001.” World Player of the Year, Grand Slams, Triple Crowns, BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year, 2009 British Lion. “It is the pinnacle. I am immensely proud. It’s the cherry on the cake. “I’m really excited, can’t wait to get there and start playing.

need to have been in their shoes. That won’t bring you success on its own, but it helps. He has spent time at Wasps and I am sure there is a good partnership between him Warren Gatland, Shaun Edwards and Ian McGeechan.” “Hopefully, the guys can repeat what happened in South Africa in 1997. The Lions are unique and the experience isn’t just for the players who play for the Lions. I was speaking to Bryan Habana recently and he is really excited about facing the Lions. “It’s twelve years since they have been there and the South African players don’t get to experience the Lions as much as we do. The players lucky enough to go can really put things right out there. Look at the coaching staff and you can really see it working together. “There wont be any egos and they will just want to get the best out of the players they have. Ian has been there and done it. His name goes hand-in-

Cwmamman Utd. But when asked by local rugby club Amman Utd to turn out for them, he made the choice of kicking an oval ball. He recalls: “Eirion Rees, Cwmamman’s player-manager, and a fivea-side teammate to this day when I get the time, still takes the mick and says ‘I still think you made the wrong decision’. “Who knows? I could have been playing for Man United! But it was probably one of the best decisions I ever made. I had a great game for Amman. I scored five tries and had a couple of pints afterwards.” Lyn Jones, the former Neath coach, has been mentor and guiding light to Shane throughout his career. “I owe a lot to Lyn Jones (ex-Neath coach). When I was playing second-choice scrum-half, I had the opportunity to play on the wing in one of the games and never looked back. “That was down to Lyn. I worked with him for nine years and I got to know him as well. A lot of what I have achieved is down to him.” Then there is the Great Redeemer himself, Graham Henry, the former Wales supremo who picked him back in 1999. “Graham was like an uncle to me in the way he treated me. I was one of the youngsters, one of the kids, but he really did look after me. He gave me my big break when a lot of people said I should not have been there. I have a lot of respect for him. He gave me that chance and I hope I have repaid him in the performances I have put in over the years.” Outside rugby Shane runs a property business with fellow Osprey and Welsh captain Ryan Jones. His wife Gail is expecting a second child and companion for two-year-old Georgie. “I have not got the personality to be sat behind a desk 24/7. I’m sure I will have my finger in a few pies in the next few years but I’m just enjoying everything about rugby and life at the moment. I am a very lucky man.” It’s a great country, a beautiful country, and every time I’ve played out there, I’ve really enjoyed myself. I enjoy playing at altitude. I enjoy the surface because it is like a running track for me and it certainly suits my game with nice big open fields.” Can McGeechan’s Lions of 2009 emulate McGeechan’s winning Lions of 1997? “I think it will be really tough, but we’ll take the series 2-1. I’d hate to be too confident and say 3-0!”

hand with the Lions and they will be more determined than any other coaching team. “When you look at the squad they have chosen it’s certainly a bunch of players who won’t shirk the severe physical demands of touring South Africa. They wont be intimidated or frightened about facing a team who are the world champions and have improved since winning in France. “I did think the captaincy would go to Brian O’Driscoll, but Paul O’Connell who played in all three Tests against New Zealand in 2005 - is an impressive figure. He will command the respect of everyone involved. Leaving out the likes of England’s Delon Armitage and Mark Cueto, plus Wales scrum-half Dwyane Peel and skipper Ryan Jones, was a surprise. But they should not give up hope completely of being involved. “The Lions have six brutal tour matches before the first Test gets under way in Durban. So there’s so much very

tough and intense rugby and training to get through, and I’d be amazed if there weren’t a few casualties along the way. “So, a few of those guys who were not picked in the original 37 may well end up getting a taste of the Lions in South Africa anyway. It’s just not feasible to believe that the whole squad will get to that opening game with the Springboks unscathed. Being battered, bruised and blooded in the build up to the Tests is part of the fun of being a Lion! My message to those who have missed the cut is stay fit and keep a phone handy you may still be needed! “Selection is just the first step but coming home with a series win is a different matter. I like the mixture of McGeechan’s squad - and if he can get them to gel like we did to beat the Boks twelve years ago, you just never know.”

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HIS

DAD WATCHED RUGBY FROM A CAGE, HIS MUM WAS BANNED FROM PLAYING HOCKEY FOR HER COUNTRY, SO NO WONDER BRYAN HABANA ENJOYS…

My Long 58

Lions Update 2009 magazine


HABANA

} I sometimes

get scared people lived in such times

~

BRYAN HABANA

once famously attempted to out-run a cheetah. He failed narrowly to achieve his objective. So what chance a pack of slower, less explosive Lions in their attempt to tame the Transvaal tornado? Not much if you listen to the millions who cherish and worship Habana, a national treasure back in his homeland. Jonah Lomu used to snort and run over flattened victims Habana merely smiles and runs past them! Yet, stopping a man who can blast ten seconds flat for the 100 metres is certainly something Ian McGeechan and his coaching staff will be working hard to prevent up to the opening Test in Durban on June 20. Developing a master plan will be one thing, executing it another! The All Blacks and Wallabies have tried and failed in the past. And the home countries have suffered enough at the feet of the lightning fast Habana since he made his Test debut against England at Twickenham five years ago when he scored with his first touch of the ball. Habana is star material. The player, who says he owes his love of rugby to the sight of Francois Pienaar raising the Webb Ellis Cup to the heavens to the roar of millions South Africans on that emotional day in Johannesburg in 1995, could command a king’s ransom if he woke up one morning, looked in the mirror and said to himself: “I fancy playing in the Northern Hemisphere!” A stampede of clubs would clamour for his valuable signature, and the highest bidder would need to break the bank. Sadly, these days that would probably put the French one jump ahead their English rivals. Not that Habana will even contemplate walking out on his homeland in order to ply his trade in the Guinness Premiership. For the fastest wing on Earth, who cannot wait to show off his explosive skills in the forthcoming series with the Lions, insists with a cheeky smile: “I don’t think I will ever come to England to play club rugby because the weather is too gloomy, too rainy and too cold over there. I’m a South African boy and enjoy switching off completely at 3.30pm when the sun goes down. “I don’t think I will be going anywhere soon. But, who knows in the future. The South of France can be fairly warm! But there’s also the little matter of playing for the Springboks. If I’m going to carry on doing that it’s probably best for me to be appearing in South African club rugby and under the boss’s nose. “The Lions coming over here only happens once every twelve years. Its the pinnacle of a rugby player’s career to play against the Lions. We lost the last one in 1997 and, hopefully, we can put the record straight this time. It’s a

Above - Left to Right: Habana says his love of rugby grew from the moment Francois Pienaar raised the World Cup in 1995. He also says his parents gave him christian names inspired by BRYAN Robson, the footballer, and GARY Bailey, the ex Manchester United goalkeeper.

dream for me to be part of a Boks team to defeat the Lions. That would be special. “But I’m not taking my place for granted. None of us can. Not with Peter de Villiers in charge. If he’s not happy with your performance one week he wont be afraid to drop you the next. But I really, really want to ensure that I am in the starting fifteen for the opening Test in Durban. That’s going to be such a magical, exciting occasion for the whole of South Africa. “We’ve done well since Peter took over. He has kept the momentum going we had under Jake White. I get on well with Peter. I’ve known him since my U21 days. He has the ball and chain at the moment and is carrying it well! We’re world champions and everyone wants to beat us. That’s how it is and we have to accept that challenge every time we walk out there onto the field. I’m sure the Lions would love to put one over us.” Dad Bernie Habana - a former lock who played for the old South African Rugby Union - sewed the seeds of rugby love for son Bryan when he took him on a 2,800km round road trip from their Johannesburg home to Cape Town to see the opening game of the 1995 World Cup against Australia. Bernie had been banned from playing rugby after he was spotted watching the white South Africa side take on the British and Irish Lions when they toured in 1980. He was reported to the Union. That day Bernie had been cheering on the Springboks, a no-no in the non-white section of the crowd, where the majority cheered the opposition. For Bernie, 1995 symbolised the end of segregation in sport. And then came the 1995 World Cup, which he simply could not miss. Apartheid ended and Bernie was delighted his son fell head over heels in love with the game. And Bryan Gary Habana, who was named after former England football hero Bryan Robson and Manchester United’s South African-born goalkeeper Gary Bailey, swapped the round ball for an oval one. Bryan, who at 26 has been capped 46 times, recalls: “That whole experience, missing school for the first time and driving down to Cape Town on a two-day trip, picking up hitch-hikers - as weird as they seemed - with my dad driving way above the speed limit, it was so special. Then seeing Pieter Hendriks and Joel Stransky score those tries in that opening game against Australia, seeing grown men cry with the new South African flag painted on their faces. “There was an Afrikaans guy sitting in front of us and when we won he gave my dad this big hug. The next day the face paint was still stuck to my dad’s top. My love for rugby grew out of watching Francois Pienaar and the World Cup in 1995. I had never played rugby before grade seven at secondary school. I always took part in athletics, as a sprinter. “As I followed rugby more and more closely, my heroes

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Walk to Freedom Lions Update 2009 magazine

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HABANA

He’d have crushed Wells’ Olympic dream Bryan Habana’s ability to run 100 metres in 10 seconds flat would have been quick enough to have won him Olympic gold medals at the Munich, Montreal, and Moscow Games. His best stopwatch time is unratified by the athletics authorities, but, unofficial or not, his personal record of 10 seconds for the Olympic movement’s blue riband event would have been good enough to have shoved Britain’s Olympic hero Allan Wells into the silver medal position on the rostrum at the Moscow Games of 1980. Based on the Habana’s best time over 100m, these Olympic results would have been feasible:

1972 Munich 1976 Montreal 1980 Moscow

1 Bryan Habana (SA), 10.0; 2 Valery Borzov (SOV), 10.14; 3 Robert Taylor (USA), 10.24. 1 Bryan Habana (SA), 10.0; 2 Hasely Crawford (TRI), 10.06; 3 Don Quarrie (JAM), 10.07. 1 Bryan Habana (SA), 10.0, 2 Allan Wells (GBR), 10.25, 3 Silvio Tartabull (CUB), 10.25.

» became the Australia scrum-half George Gregan, South Africa scrum-half Joost van der Westhuizen, and All Blacks Jonah Lomu and Tana Umaga. I also had great admiration for Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha. All those players made rugby special in their lives and left the game in a better state.” Bernie remembers: “I had been exposed to rugby where, if you went to watch a game of white rugby, you sat in a little pigeonhole thing among the white spectators with fences all around you so they couldn’t throw things at you. Whereas in 1995, all those fences had come down and we were one. “Taking Bryan to live that moment was important, it just seemed like the right thing to do. I wanted him to see how much it could help to have one cause. Because in South Africa, prior to 1994, there were separate causes. One was fighting for freedom and they were called terrorists, the others were protecting their freedom and they were terrorists. Yet all of a sudden we had unity.” When South Africa trounced England 42-6 last autumn, there was a comparable feeling of history. Not for the score line, or the achievement, but because the team on the pitch finally reflected the identity it claimed to represent - the rainbow nation. South Africa finished the game with an allblack front row - a remarkable image in itself - with Ricky Januarie taking man of the match. On the sidelines seven of the 12 backroom staff were black, among them the manager and the head coach. How things have changed! Bryan insists: “The rest of the world wants to know about colour. For me it’s like, colour, what is that? People ask whether I am proud to be coloured. I’m proud to be South African. I’m proud that I’m doing something amazing... something that makes a difference. I’m South African, I’m not coloured, I’m not black. Even though the colour of my skin will portray something to certain people, to me I’m South African. I don’t understand black. “Now we have 12 players of colour in the Springbok set-up, and looking back I think, ‘Jeez, you know if Chester Williams hadn’t made a statement, or given his all, would I be sitting here today? The more you grow-up, the more you start thinking about those things. You wonder what it was like, to have to take a different bus or train, or not be able to walk around the streets after dark. I sometimes get scared that people lived in such times. “Their upbringing and my upbringing were totally different. They had it a lot harder than me, my dad not being able to go to rugby games, my mom having to be in the coloured hockey side, not being able to go on and represent her country because of her colour. It would have been heartbreaking for me if I had had all this ability and not been able to play for my country and make a difference to so many peoples’ lives.

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Above: Habana

“We didn’t talk about it over breakfast. My parents tried to shelter us as much as possible from all that segregation. I only understood it in the latter stages of the apartheid era. It goes so much deeper than what happens on the rugby field. Whether it be Bakkies Botha or Tendai or Ricky Januarie, no matter the colour of their skin, who they are or where they’ve come from, it’s great to see how the different energies gel, and how captain John Smit manages that. He’s got guys from different provinces - it could cause tension and he’s got to make it work. I think if John was black he would still be the captain he is now.” Habana’s meteoric rise to fame and glory was as quick as the man himself. And it was certainly no surprise to those who had watched him run defences ragged beforehand that he took centre stage in the 2007 World Cup. He equalled Jonah Lomu’s tournament record of eight tries and Habana was simply irresistible and unstoppable. He scored four tries in the 59-7 win over Samoa in Paris and two more against Argentina in the semi-final. Later in the year he scored an amazing winning try in the Super 14 Final later in the year. Hardly surprising then that he was named the IRB’s 2007 ‘Player of the Year’. No doubt the bookies will make him short odds to become “Player of the Series” when the Boks and Lions go head-tohead in Test battle on June 20.


.


A-Z

AN A-Z GUIDE TO 121 YEARS OF LIONS TOURS TO THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE COUNTRIES A

G

Air travel was used for the first time to transport the 1955 Lions squad to South Africa, shortening the trip by a month.

Green shirts were worn for the first time by the Springboks when the British Isles toured in 1896. The Lions have worn an all-red jersey since 1950. The 1988 tour shirt was a hooped red, white and blue mix.

B Bishop of Bloemfontein was the appointment granted Oxford University and Lions forward Walter Carey when he decided to stay on in South Africa after the 1896 Lions tour.

C Clarke, The Boot, kicked six penalties in the All Blacks first Test defeat of the Lions in July 1959, yet left the pitch to a storm of jeers. Don’s kicking, as always, was flawless, but the Lions had scored four tries to their hosts’ zilch, and that was not good enough for the Dunedin crowd.

D Dr Doug Smith, manager of the 1971 Lions, forecast his team would win two Tests, lose one Test, and draw one before the squad left home for Australia and New Zealand. His prediction was spot-on.

H High Definition will be used for the first time on a Lions tour when SKY screen all the 2009 Lions tour matches in South Africa in the newly available pinpoint sharp system.

I Irish Tribune newspaper columns suggested the nearest some of the nine Irish international players should have come to making the 1983 Lions tour to New Zealand was “Dublin Zoo”. Hopefully, that appraisal excluded the manager, Willie John McBride.

J

E

Jordan’s autobiography is the favourite book of Gethin Jenkins, the British Lions and Welsh prop, according to “Power of 4” brochure published for the 2005 Lions tour to New Zealand. Compare that to fellow tourist Ollie Smith’s choice of the heavyweight Lord of the Rings.

Ellis Park, Johannesburg, built in 1928, hosted a record 100,000 crowd for the Test between South Africa and the British Lions in 1955.

K

F Farrell, Jimmy, strongman and cornerstone of Ireland’s powerful pack in the 1920s, played all five Tests on the 1930 Lions tour to New Zealand and Australia.

King prawns followed by steak is the favourite dish of Stephen Jones, the British Lions and Wales fly-half. John Sheridan, the England prop, and the luckless Tom Shanklin, who withdrew from the squad after dislocating his shoulder, both go for steak also.

L Lions is a great concept, according to Lawrence Dallaglio. He says: “You spend four years kicking lumps out of each other, then you get put into a hotel together and a few weeks later you’re up against one of the best teams in the world. Fantastic.”

M Media consultant on the 2005 Lions tour to South Africa was Alastair Campbell, press secretary to Tony Blair when the former Prime Minister became leader of the Labour Party.

N Ninety-nine (99) was the call to arms given by Willie John McBride to signal his permission for the 1974 Lions to ignore the ball and thump the nearest Springbok. As Willie John said famously on that tour: “Get your retaliation in first.”

O Opposition from the British Government and groups opposed to sporting contact with the apartheid regime in South Africa overshadowed the build-up to Billy Beaumont’s 1980 Lions tour. But the four home unions committee, which organised Lions tours, gave the go-ahead, despite the political unrest.

P Papillon is Brian O’Driscoll’s favourite book. Whether the 2005 Lions tour captain liked the film of the book is not recorded. Lions tour skipper Paul O’Connell lists his favourite move as “The Da Vinci Code”. Chef Neil Perry’s King Prawns

Favourite dishes 76

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King prawns,


A-Z

A-Z

AN A-Z GUIDE TO 121 YEARS OF LIONS TOURS TO THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE COUNTRIES Q

W

Quicksilver Irish flanker Fergus Slattery was denied a try in the final Test of the 1974 Lions tour when referee Max Baise claimed he had blown the whistle by the time the Lions openside forced his way across the Springbok line.

Worsley Joe (England, Wasps, British Lions) says: ‘All the players form the four home countries regard a Lions tour as the biggest honour in the game.”

R

X

Rugby World’s poll of rugby players in 2003 voted Gareth Edwards (Wales and British Lions) the greatest player of all time. The legendary scrum-half went on three Lions tours, in 1968, 1971 and 1974

Xenophobia was never an issue on Lions tours to South Africa when apartheid ruled. Rugby enthusiasts among South Africa’s black community tended to support the visiting Lions more than they did then all-white Springboks

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Y

Springboks have been playing international rugby since 1891, when the British Isles toured South Africa. They agreed to be called the ‘Springboks’ for the Lions tour of 1910.

Youngest member of the Lions tour party is Leigh Halfpenny, the Cardiff and Wales wing, born on December 22, 1988. Ironically, he made his international debut against world champions South Africa.

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Television audiences around the globe of 220million armchair rugby enthusiasts are forecast to watch the 2009 Lions tour to South Africa.

Zimbabwe - then known as Rhodesia - played a one-off Test against the 1974 Lions. Prime Minister Ian Smith attended the post-match function. Fergus Slattery and Dick Milliken spotted an unlocked Bentley on the forecourt as they left the shindig and did a lap of the hotel grounds in the limousine they borrowed.

U Uncapped Will Greenwood was selected to tour South Africa in 1997 with Martin Johnson’s Lions squad before he had been selected to play for England.

V Victoria Crosses were awarded 1896 Lions tourists Tom Crean and Robert Johnston when they served with the Imperial Light Horse regiment in the Boer War.

Clockwise from top left: Don Clarke, Jordan, Alistair Campbell (with Clive Woodward), The 1955 Lions team, Steve McQueen, Victoria Cross.

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THIRTY-FIVE

WILLIE JOHN MCBRIDE LED THE MOST BRUTAL TOUR IN LIONS HISTORY, GUESS WHAT THE ULSTERMAN WANTS FROM PAUL O’CONNELL’S SQUAD? YEARS AFTER

Get your retaliation in first By Bill Day

years after Willie John McBride adopted brutal tactics to beat the Springboks, it seemed appropriate to discover what tactics the greatest of all Lions captains would adopt to beat the world champions in 2009. The 1974 Lions, who became known as the Invincibles on that infamous unbeaten tour, decided to confront the intimidatory tactics they expected South Africa to employ by perfecting the ‘99 Call’ to arms. The idea was for McBride to call give the infamous version of the 999 emergency dial-up whenever he spotted the Springboks physically abusing one of the Lions players. McBride’s demand for a ‘99’ was the signal for every Lions player to forget the ball and thump his nearest Springbok counterpart. Hatched by McBride and coach Syd Millar, the theory was that no referee in the world would have the courage to dismiss an entire team for throwing punches on command at a specified moment in a match. The controversial tactic was tried for the first time against Eastern Province in Port Elizabeth, and sprung most notably again on the Springboks in the third Test, a match rated one of the dirtiest in rugby history. Packing their side with prime beefed-up enforcers, South Africa were guilty of starting the trouble when Lions hooker Bobby Windsor was kicked by Johannes van Heerden. Fights broke out all over the ground and celebrated Lions full-back JPR Williams ran half the length of the pitch to land a haymaker on the Natal bullyboy. McBride, bobbing and weaving like a prize-fighter, meted out his own brand of corporal punishment in that notorious brawl that did nothing for the reputation of rugby union as a dignified sport. But coach and captain never wavered at the time and the legendary Ulsterman defends to the hilt still the tactics used then three decades after the most successful tour in Lions history. As the Lions prepare to counter the best pack in the world, McBride believes the team that emerges triumphant in the forward battle will go on to win the Test series. So, is the 99-Call still a relevant tactic for Lions captain Paul O’Connell to call on this tour? “The principles are the same” says

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McBride. “Get your retaliation in first. We knew in 1974 we had to get the scrum right, which we did. We knew that physically we had got to be as good as they were. We took them on, toe to toe, never taking a backward step. “The 2009 Lions have to do the same. South Africa are the world champions. Not only are they physically as hard as nails, they are mentally tough also.” A key feature of the Lions success was they never contemplated the possibility of defeat and picked several Lions vastly experienced from participating in the winning Test series against New Zealand and Australia three years earlier, said McBride. “Key figures were Gordon Brown, Mighty Mouse McLauchlan, Fergus Slattery, and Mervyn Davies, a hardcore of experienced Lions, who played better in South Africa than on the previous tour.. And we had skillful backs, including Gareth Edwards, Mike Gibson, Phil Bennett, Ian McGeechan, Dick Millican, Andy Irvine, JPR Williams and JJ Williams. “The word got round that you don’t mess with

McBride ‘I cherish so many memories of 1974. To this day, I feel I adopted 29 brothers on that trip. Those men stood alongside me in every situation we encountered. Nobody had to be disciplined. We had a hell of a lot of fun. You don’t buy that brand of loyalty’


REFEREES

} Hit them and hit them hard ~ these Lions guys. They almost took out Gareth Edwards in one match and the South Africa psyche is the same today. You have got to hit them, and hit them hard. Someone once said ‘You might score more points than South Africa, but you have never beaten them’.” McBride is keen to dispel the notion that his squad were illdisciplined in 1974. “You cannot play the game of rugby without discipline. Anybody who has played rugby will know that if a member of the opposition steps out of line, to run around on a revenge mission is a futile waste of time when you should be playing rugby. “Our tactic was to sort out an opponent immediately, together, and get back playing rugby. Get your retaliation in first, was my principle. The 1974 tour results (P22, W21, D1, Pts 729-207) are the results of a disciplined side. You don’t win as we did if you are ill-disciplined.” But McBride does concede a few red and yellow cards would have been waved at Lions transgressors had they faced modern referees. Asked how his squad stayed within the disciplinary laws that applied in those days, he replied: “In many ways we didn’t stay within the laws of rugby. If they transgressed, we sorted it out and then got on with the game.” Despite the malevolent nature of relationships on the pitch, McBride speaks highly of the South Africa players he faced on a brutally contested tour. “They were all Boer farmers. I loved them. They were brilliant men, great off the pitch. But then I was a different animal off the pitch.” McBride is not entirely convinced the current Lions forwards are as strong mentally and physically as they were in his day. “I was a farmer’s son. I could work the fields for 12-18 hour days. It was all work. It took a week to plough a field with two horses. You made a living, you didn’t make money. But we were fit. That is how you built strong men then. You don’t build strong men by taking them to the gym for an hour every day. Today, they come off the field tired, and more often than not, before the final whistle. “Discussing this very issue with my good friend Colin ‘Pinetree’ Meads recently, he told me: “If they’d had replacements in our day, I would have told the coach to ‘stuff the f - - - - - - game right up his arse.’ You weren’t allowed to get hurt in our day. If you got a knock, you pretended to be okay. You needed mental strength.” Management strength alone should dictate are more successful tour under Ian McGeechan than the beleagured 2005 campaign in New Zealand under Sir Clive Woodward. “I have my trust in this management. McGeechan is one of the best man managers you will find anywhere in the sport. He listens. He listens to players and other coaches and then makes his judgments. He doesn’t rule roughshod over players. I really don’t know what Woodward was trying to do on the last tour. I don’t think he knew either. “Why did he take that Downing Street guy Duncan Campbell? I wore the Lions tracksuit and I saw him addressing the team. I was nearly sick. We did our own media work on the 1974 tour. A press conference of 20 minutes every morning. Never had a problem. I had a great respect for the rugby press of my day. There was no need for spin, but I do admit there was a responsible press in our day and an irresponsible press, some of it inflammatory.” McBride, a key member of the HSBC panel of legends supporting the Lions tour as principal partner, forecasts a 2-1 series win in the Lions favour. “My only concern is the front-row. Wales is the nearest I’ve seen to a decent scrummaging team in the Six Nations. The team that scrummages best on this tour will be the team that lifts the trophy.” All of it, of course, performed with strict adherence to the laws of the great game!

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SIMON SHAW - ONLY SURVIVOR FROM THE 1997 TOUR…

The

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SHAW

Monster is back! ROALD Dahl could easily have modelled his BFG on Simon Shaw.....as big as they come. As friendly as they come. And certainly as tall as they come! And, just like the cult book figure, the 6ft 8in, 19st second rower harbours the off-field demeanour of a man who could softly pick up a butterfly from a branch and not damage it’s fragile wings. Yet stick the same tough-as-oak tower on a rugby field in front of a bunch of aggressive, antagonising rivals, he turns into a monster not to be riled. Therefore it’s little surprise that the likeable “Shawsey” managed to book himself a seat on the plane to South Africa......with extra leg room and a good view to boot. Now what he really wants is to taste what it feels like to don the cherished red jersey in a Test. For despite being the only surviving member from the 1997 Lions touring party to South Africa, Shaw is yet to get the nod for “the big ones”. Shaw admits: “I’ve had a few bloody battles with the Springboks before wearing an England jersey. But it would be unbelievable to actually do that for the Lions. It was great going to South Africa twelve years ago and then New Zealand. But, naturally, you want to get your name on the Test team list. You don’t want to just be seen as a midweek player who isn’t good enough to be in the games that really matter. “Hopefully, I can change all that this time. But all I can do is throw myself into training and the warm-up games if I’m picked and let the management do the rest. I’d love to play a Test because this is certainly going to be my last Lions tour. Unless there is room for a nearly fortysomething next time!” Facing the Springboks would be just another challenge for a man used to putting his head in where it hurts most - and

Caption

about you. And they will be in your face quite a bit if things don’t go well. But you don’t get anywhere near as much abuse off the pitch as you do in New Zealand. They love their rugby - and they love winning. There’s nothing wrong with that.” Shaw, born in Nairobi, didn’t take up rugby until he was 16 years old after his family moved back to England. He made the first of his 50 England appearances against Italy in 1996, and was called up to the Lions’ tour of South Africa the following year, but failed to appear in the Test side. He was a late replacement in England’s World Cup winning 2003 squad after Danny Grewcock suffered an injury, earning him an MBE for his success despite not playing a game. He was also a replacement in the 2005 Lions tour of New Zealand after Irish lock Malcolm O’Kelly aggravated a groin injury.

} Even warm-ups are like war ~

where there is no hiding place for the faint hearted. He insists: “South Africans like to work hard and play hard. It’s in their nature. You know what to expect from them because they have not changed the way they play the game much over the years. They have just got a little fitter and probably better prepared for Tests. “Even the warm-up games against the local South Africans are usually something of a war. Each team you face wants to give you a really tough time so that you’ve got nothing left for the Tests. “They’ll want to prove a point and try to have some sort of bearing on the series itself. It’s a huge thing for an opposition to get a scalp. Given the physical nature of the challenge, and the hard grounds out there, it does make it extremely difficult to come through unscathed. “There were a lot of casualties on the 1997 tour. And, the odds are, there could well be a few casualties along the way on this latest trip. You just have to hope you are not one of them. Because there is nothing worse than working your socks off in training and giving it everything only to pick up a silly injury that ruins it all. “Saying that, you cannot run out onto the pitch thinking about your own self existence. You have to think positively, clearly and be ready to put your body on the line. This Springbok pack is as formidable as they come. They’ve got better since the 2007 World Cup final. South African packs used just to be about size. This lot have got skills, too. “They may want to pack you off as soon as possible with your tails between your legs, but the South African people are also very welcoming. They will let you know what they think

Shaw possesses an array of club trophies including four Premiership titles and two Heineken Cups and is also the only lock to have ever scored a Premiership drop-goal. But he has also endured plenty of ups and downs during a career which has defied many a doubtful critic preparing to write his rugby obituary. Despite being condemned as too old, too slow and too cumbersome for the fast and furious international scene, he is still a mountainous force to have on your side. As England have found out twice to their benefit having reviewed their decision to put him out to grass. Former coach Brian Ashton recalled Shaw to help lift England’s flagging 2007 World Cup campaign. He had such an influence on proceedings that the team went within a couple of centimetres of Mark Cueto’s boot of retaining the trophy. The Wasps lock then muscled his way back in from the outskirts to ensure his country’s latest Six Nations Championship campaign was far more promising and successful than it threatened. Yet it is no surprise that, with his good friend and Wasps boss Ian McGeechan at the Lions helm, Shaw is now relishing the prospect of locking horns once more some McGeechan insists: “Shaw is one of the most skilful forwards I’ve ever coached. He knows exactly what is needed and what will be expected of him in South Africa. He has every great attribute a world class second rower needs and more. That’s why he was selected for his third Lions tour. “When you look for the model Lions forward, you look at someone like Simon. He will be going when others around him will be feeling the heat. When I put his name on the team sheet I know what I am going to get - good, honest endeavour with total commitment. You cannot ask for more.”

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CAPETOWN

is a beautiful place that is admired and can certainly inspire. Nestling beneath the stunning Table Mountain, the picturesque port is the perfect setting for producing a little piece of magic and mastery. Well, on June 21, 1997, the favourite holiday destination for many Brits was rugby paradise for Matthew James Sutherland Dawson, who became one of the Lions’ most unlikely heroes. Little “Daws” - a 24-year-old slip of a lad with no prior claims for legendary status - was transformed into big Matt the knife, cutting through the home side’s defence, feigning here, side-stepping there and leaving opponents flat-footed and destroyed in his wake. His magnificent solo try not only helped the Lions pull off a stunning victory against the odds on the day but it injected the real belief and confidence needed to go on and clinch the series in the Second Test. Dawson, who began the tour as third choice No9, will always be remembered for that individual piece of magic in the 25-16 victory which silenced a stunned Newlands Stadium. And when the scrum-half had finished dancing around a totally bemused Springboks team, he went out to strut his stuff in the crowded bars and clubs along the famous waterfront. A broad grin covers his face as the World Cup winner recalls: “See it? I can almost touch it! Eat it! It’s even clearer now than it was on the night - when it happened so quickly it was a bit

Below: Caption? Bottom right: Another caption?

“They had scored two tries but thanks to some South African indiscipline and Neil Jenkins’ golden boot we were still within a point of them. Rodders was always ‘picking and going’ because our game plan revolved around setting close targets. But he kept getting munched all the time. So when we were awarded a scrum 35 yards out from the home line he came over to me and said: “Daws, just go, mate. I’m getting bashed. Do a solo.” “It was a move we had rehearsed in training. The scrum-half would break blind and then have the option of feeding the winger on the outside, or the number 6 inside. Flanker Ruben Kruger had been constantly breaking his binding on the short side and I had been pointing at it all match to try to get referee Colin Hawk to penalise him. This time, perhaps, sensing the ref’s stare, Kurger held firm. I saw my chance and went. I got round Kurger and then past their number 8, Gary Teichmann. Iuean Evans was on the right wing, and he cut inside on a run I didn’t even see. He always ribs me that he would have been in under the sticks, but he went so early that I had no chance. “Lawrence Dallaglio was also in no position to take a pass. So, on my own, my only chance of avoiding being smashed into touch by either Teichmann, scrum-half Joost van der Westhuizen or full-back Andrew Joubert was to throw a dummy and give myself a couple of yards to work with. So I threw it a theatrical, over-the-top number - to precisely nobody. As I did so I started slowing down, and to my amazement the Boks

} Their feet were stuck in cement… and so were their minds ~ of a blur. It was certainly a blur for the Springboks anyway! The look on the faces of the South African players as I feigned to pass infield was something I will never forget. What they were thinking and calling me at the time I don’t know. But I’m sure there were a few choice words in there. It just took them by complete surprise. “For me it was as if the whole thing happened in slow motion - time just stood almost still as I ran towards the try line. I kept expecting someone to grab me, leap on me from behind, and stop me. But no-one did. Their feet seemed stuck in cement and so were their minds. There were about seven minutes left and Tim Rodber turned to me and called the “solo” move which would change my life forever.

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stopped. Even Joubert, coming across, hitch-kicked. I couldn’t believe they had all bought it, the suckers. “It was a score which won us the match and convinced us all beyond doubt that we could go on and win the series. It’s certainly stands as the single most memorable moment of my career. Even now people ask me about it. They know exactly where they were when I touched down, what pub they were in watching the game, how they reacted, even how drunk they got! That is special. To be involved in a game and then to create that one moment which triggers a memory that will stay with people for life is very, very special. I feel very privileged to have done that. “Yet, to be honest, at the time I scored it felt no different to scoring for Marlow Under-8s. I had no perception of how big the game was. I was third choice, scrum-half, then second choice and then thrown into the team. It all happened so quickly. I hadn’t had time to think ‘Oh my God, this is the biggest game of my life”. It seemed no big deal to me because I had gone on the tour with no great expectations from either myself on anyone. I was half expecting to watch most of the games and be more of a fan in the dug-out. “There was even the suggestion that I only made the tour part because Ian McGeechan was my club coach at Northampton. I was dropped by England the previous Autumn and then ruled out of the 1997 Five Nations by injury. I went to South Africa behind Wales’s Robert Howley and Austin Healey.” Dawson is adamant that if the latest Lions party to fly to the dark continent is to be remembered in the same glamorous, glorious way, they too must find an unexpected hero from within.....or two or three. For as the man who went on to inspire England’s 2003 World Cup victory over Australia in Sydney insists, the big stage needs a big moment.

Matt’s


DAWSON

} It stands as the single most memorable event of my career~ He says: “Rugby has changed so much since 1997. Players are fitter, stronger and faster. They certainly are better paid these days! But one thing that will never change - that’s how to win special matches with special plays. If you’re going to turn a game on its head, or change the direction, you have to use your instinct and be one jump ahead of the opposition. A piece of magic or inspiration can can act as a catalyst for the rest of the series. Whether it’s a scrum-half feigning passes and catching people cold, or a fly-half kicking a drop goal in the last minute, or a wing grabbing an interception and running half the length of the field, it makes no difference. It’s all about that split second of a match which, if the player concerned is prepared for it, can alter the whole occasion and even a tour. “I would love to see that happen in South Africa - a Lions player who may not be one of the big names or predicted successes, suddenly emerge as the unlikely hero. People will expect the likes of the Brian O’Driscolls, Ronan O’Garas and Shane Williams’s to do extra-ordinary things out there. But if some lesser heralded guy can grab the bull by the horns and shine through it would be superb. “The Lions will also need to reproduce the kind of special unity and camaraderie which we had in 1997 and was evident through the decades before that. If you are to have any chance of going to a fanatical, passionate and very proud place like South Africa and win a Test series, you simply have

to have every player singing from the same hymn sheet. “National differences, club differences and everything else flies out the window. You’re just a bunch of decent rugby players going on tour to do a very tough and demanding job. You must fight for one and other on the field and then collectively celebrate your successes or commiserate your losses off it as well. “I’m very optimistic and excited about the prospects of the 2009 Lions chances. The right ingredients are in place off the field. And I feel their is enough player talent in British and Irish rugby to give the Springboks a real good battle. “The Lions have the perfect management set-up with McGeechan the ideal brain in charge of the coaching and the likes of Warren Gatland, Shaun Edwards and Rob Howley his assistants. It’s a line-up which tells you the Lions mean business - and it will make the Springboks sit up and take notice. “Gerald Davies knows what is needed in his role as Manager and it all bodes well for an enjoyable and fun tour as well, I hope, is a successful one. It certainly needs to be after the mess of four years ago when everything that could go wrong on and off the field just did. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for the Lions to get back to what they do best and erase the memory of New Zealand. South Africa are the World Champions and have so much natural, amazing talent in their backs and forwards. But if the Lions can get it right we should see another magnificent occasion.”

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The Whistle BRITISH LIONS

tour history has been laced with controversial incidents involving referees and players prepared to indulge in foul play, some of it condoned by team managements. The appointment of neutral match officials for the three Test series in South Africa is the product of a catalogue of infamous moments that have coloured, and sometimes desecrated, previous tours. No incident has been more explosive than the spear-tackle that sidelined Lions captain Brian O’Driscoll from the rest of the New Zealand tour in the first Test at Christchurch in 2005. The flashpoint moment, with the Test less than two minutes old, marred the series and did more than anything to undermine a campaign that ended in the most emphatic drubbing in Lions history four years ago. The tour, led by England’s World Cup winning coach Sir Clive Woodward, is remembered as much for that controversial moment when O’Driscoll was spear-tackled by All Blacks captain Tana Umaga and hooker Keven Mealamu as for the morale sapping defeats suffered in all three Tests. Hardly surprising then that referee neutrality governed IRB referee selection committee discussions concerning the appointment of the referees chosen to control the 2009 Lions tour to South Africa. IRB referee manager Paddy O’Brien said: “We met with the Lions and South Africa team management and all were in favour of the appointment of neutral match officials for the Test series.” The IRB also announced a strong match official line-up for the seven provincial tour matches. The panel is merit-based, featuring IRB high performance referee panel members. South Africa’s Marius Jonker takes charge of the first match between the tourists and a Highveld XV in Rustenburg on May 30. New Zealander Bryce Lawrence has been given charge of the first Test in Durban on June 20. The second Test in Pretoria on June 27 will be controlled by top French referee Christophe Berdos, and Australia’s Stuart Dickinson will referee the third Test in Johannesburg on July 4. Wayne Barnes (England), one of Britain’s leading referees, takes charge of the match between the Lions and the Free State Cheetahs at Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein on June 6; Nigel Owens (Wales) refs the match against a Coastal XV at Nelson Mandela Stadium, Port Elizabeth on June 16; and Alain Rolland (Ireland) takes the match against the Emerging Springboks at Newlands, Capetown on June 23. This time the IRB are hoping for none of the brutality that marred the abortive 2005 tour. But Lions history shows that cynical and sometimes reckless play, and mistakes by match officials, can erupt at any time in these head-to-head contests between the British Lions and the Southern Hemisphere countries. This is a potted history of the bad and sometimes downright ugly episodes that have woven unexpected drama into the history of Lions tours...

MALICE AND MISCHIEF A

HISTORY OF FOUL PLAY AND REFEREE MISTAKES ON LIONS TOURS

1938 Tour THE Springboks have been guilty of some pretty unsporting moments down the years, but this time their sportsmanship could not be faulted. The Lions penalty kicker Charles Grieve (Scotland and Oxford University) struck a 40 yard kick between the uprights in the last Test. Badly positioned, the referee was not prepared to acknowledge the penalty was truly struck until the Springboks, to a man, indicated the kick was successful. 1962 Tour The second Test ended in controversy when unsighted referee Ken Carlson failed to award what looked to be a perfectly respectable pushover try by Keith Rowlands that would have wiped-out the Springboks fragile 3-0 lead.

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blowers

1968 Tour JOHN O’SHEA became the first Lion tourist to be sent off in a Test that became known as the Battle of Springs. O’Shea was pelted with fruit by the Springboks supporters as he left the pitch. He was also punched in the face by a spectator, at which point the Lions players waded in to seek retribution for the plight of their stricken teammate. 1971 Tour CELEBRATED Lions coach Carwyn James refused to rubber stamp the New Zealand RFU’s choice of referee for the first Test, claiming to have once seen the match official raise both arms in apparent celebration of a penalty converted by New Zealand’s Fergie McCormick. James managed to persuade the host union to employ John Pring, a highly respected international referee in that period. Pring performed so well he became the first and last referee to officiate in all four Tests of a Lions series. 1974 Tour THIS was the famous tour in which Lions captain Willie John McBride instructed his squad to “Take no prisoners”. It was also the tour that bred the infamous “99” call to arms, an instruction that blatantly infringed the laws of rugby union when signalling each player to forget the ball and thump a rival Springbok. The tour spawned another controversial McBride phrase requesting his players to “Get your intimidation in first”. The Third Test - known as the Battle of Boet Erasmus became one of the most violent ever witnessed as the Lions waded into their Springbok opponents. JPR Williams famously ran half the length of the pitch to land a punch on Moaner van Heerden, and several “99” calls were made as the Lions saw-off the challenge by adopting siege conditions. 1993 Tour THE first Test in Christchurch began with a highly controversial try awarded New Zealand. A high kick by Grant Fox was caught by Ieuan Evans, who fell over the line still holding the ball, with Frank Bunce clutching it also. Evans never let go of the ball, yet the referee awarded the try to New Zealand from a distant vantage point. The referee, Brian Kinsey, dropped another clanger when awarding New Zealand an outrageous penalty with only a minute left on the clock. Grant Fox capitalised on the mistake by booting the winning points.

Rowlands, a fair man, maintained well into retirement that the ‘try’ should have stood. The disallowed try resulted from the moment South Africa were penalised for a crooked lineout throw on their own line. As the Lions wheeled the scrum, Rowlands fell on the ball, but to the undisguised disbelief of some Lions players, the referee disallowed the try, claiming he was unsighted. That controversial decision, and others, became vital evidence for those finally achieving a fairer choice of match officials many years later when neutral referees were appointed for international matches. 1966 Tour LOST all four Tests on the New Zealand leg in a series marred by poor management and questionable All Black tactics, some of it attritional, much of it infringing the laws of the game. Many Lions players suffered kicks to the head and broken noses from stiff armed tackles that went unpunished.

2001 Tour THE Aussies’ tactic of targeting a key Lions player for roughhouse treatment ended Richard Hill’s tour when Nathan Grey pinned him with a late tackle that resulted in the Lions’ flanker playing no further part in the tour. 2005 Tour THE first Test at Christchurch was just a minute old when a spear-tackle by All Blacks captain Tana Umaga and hooker Keven Mealamu dislocated Lions captain Brian O’Driscoll’s shoulder and put him out for the whole tour. Not only had they destroyed the Lions main attacking weapon but had also the lynchpin of the tourists defence. Sir Clive Woodward, the Lions coach, reported the affair to the IRB citing commissioner, William Venter, who decided on the basis of video footage available not to refer the matter to the disciplinary tribunal.

but never for a bad sportsman of any class’ REV WALTER CAREY, OXFORD UNIVERSITY

AND

BRITISH LIONS 1896

TOUR TO

SOUTH AFRICA

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he’s TOUGH

he’s D he E C N E I R E P X ’s E FUNNY

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GATLAND

NO ROOM FOR FAVOURITISM ON LIONS TOUR, BUT WARREN GATLAND EXPLAINS…

Why i’m backing Alan Quinlan no mistake, Warren Gatland has thick All Black blood running through his veins. Born in Hamilton and educated at Waikato University, “Gats” won the first of his caps 21 years ago for the team he hero-worshipped on the other side of the world. But when the 45-year-old former hooker gets off the plane in Johannesburg for the start of “the biggest challenge yet in my coaching career”, he will be as desperate for the Lions to create another piece of magical rugby history as anyone reared on the British Isles or Ireland. That is down to the fact that Gats has become part of the Northern Hemisphere rugby scene as he was a player in the Southern Hemisphere. Having coached Ireland, Wales and Wasps, he has built up an affinity with this side of the sporting globe which he admits gives him plenty of reason to want to see world champions South Africa humbled on home soil. Gatland has the stiff task of making sure the experienced, hard-nosed Lions forwards out-muscle and out-perform their Springbok rivals on the unforgiving pitches that have been the graveyard for many avisiting pack over the years. It’s a challenge he is relishing as much as anything else he has done in his highly successful career. And any questions of his loyalty to the cause are very swiftly dismissed with disdain He insists: “Whatever job I have done in my career - whether it was with the Irish, or at Wasps, or currently with Wales, I have gone into it with total commitment and desire to do the best I possibly can. And I have entered into all my positions ready to give my heart and soul to the people I’m dealing with or working for. It’s the way I am. I like to think I gave everything as a player, and have carried on that way as a coach. “I have a big affiliation now with the British and Irish people because of my time in this part of the world. I’ve been lucky to coach two fine countries and a major English club side. So I feel a big connection here having got to know so many of the players and people involved in the game. “The Lions is an institution. It’s been part of the magic of world rugby for such a long time. Tradition is very important in a game like ours and maintaining that tradition, standards and enjoyment side of things is so vital. I’ve had plenty of big challenges in my time and this is right up there. It’s exciting to be involved alongside guys like Geech and Shaun Edwards and Rob Howley - guys I’ve know for some time now and respect totally. “We have to ensure the players run out for the first game ready to move mountains for the red jersey. So there’s plenty of pressure on us and plenty of expectation from so many people. We all accept there has been a bit of a gulf between the north and south for a number of years. All of us involved in the game have been trying to close that gap as much as we can. “South Africa are very strong right now. They were by far the best team in the World Cup and have progressed and improved since then in so many different areas. It’s very difficult to find any weaknesses we could exploit. But the Lions have always had a competitive pack of forwards - and if you can win the battles up front then anything can happen in Tests.”

MAKE

Gatland gives his firm backing to Ian McGeechan’s decision to ultimately pick the 36-strong squad on form rather than reputation or potential. It meant plenty of heartbreak for players who, like Gatland’s Wales’ captain Ryan Jones, missed out when twelve months earlier they were firm favourites to be selected. He insists: “There was no favouritism in the selection of the squad at all. Players have been picked purely on form and that’s the way it should be. It’s not about countries and captains and names. It’s about best players and best combinations. You can’t cover every single base but we’ve tried to cover as many as we can. The proof will be in the eating. Once we’re out there and the first game is under way we will then see whether we got it right or wrong. “There was also the challenge of trying to keep the squad down to a limited size. And, with so many players both forwards and backs banging on the door and demanding to be picked, that wasn’t easy. We had to disappoint a lot of people. But the main objection apart from sheer ability was to make sure we have people who are good talkers, good mixers and have both character and personality. I can see plenty of personality in this squad. “Alan Quinlan is certainly someone who would have brought something extra to the tour. Exactly the kind of person we were looking for in a tourist, tough, experienced, with a great sense of humour. Even though some players will not be involved in the Tests, you need proud guys in South Africa to pull-on the Lions jersey happy they were selected for the squad, willing to fight for places, be supportive of everyone else, who won’t throw their toys out of the pram if not selected for the Test side. That’s what makes a Lions tour successful. “It’s a pretty big pack we’ve picked. Whether or not they are big and strong enough to deal with the Springboks we’re about to find out. But it certainly looks good on paper. There’s a nice balance in the front row, second row and back row. You have guys who can scrummage and guys who can carry the ball well. It’s about mobility with power. “Nathan Hines is someone who can carry the ball as well as make holes in the opposition with his foraging runs. As can Simon Shaw who I thought was outstanding for England when he came into their team during the Six Nations. Shaw made a major difference to the England pack and the results showed during the tournament. He is a big man who has played in big Finals and tournaments before - and his experience will be invaluable. “The same can be said about Alun-Wyn Jones and Paul O’Connell. They have been there and done it all before. So we wont be lacking in experience or know-how. “If you pick the best players from each nation you’ve got to be able to go there with some confidence and belief that you can win a series. We’ve got some size, speed and confidence. Hopefully, we can all gel together and enjoy a winning time in South Africa.”

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UNLIKELY LIONS HERO JOHN BENTLEY REVEALS HIS RECIPE FOR SUCCESS

Men only please John Bentley stepped on the gas, moved through the gears and roared into Lions history, the whole of South Africa felt the shudder and thunder of his power and skill. There was nothing subtle about the way this tough-as-oldboots Yorkshireman went about dismantling the hosts - but it was impressive and inspirational to watch. “Bentos” switched from Midweek wannabe to Test sensation - and went on to help Ian McGeechan’s squad triumph against the odds in the Boks backyard. He raced over the line seven times in total including a hattrick against Free State and a stunning 70-yard mazy run for one of the finest tries ever scored by a Lion. An achievement made even more outstanding by the fact he had taken the big leap from bit-part player on the tour to a Test starring role. And, as far as Bentley is concerned, the rhythm and beat of the 2009 party to South Africa will once more be set by the midweek brave hearts who all want to emulate him in supplying the management with further selection headaches. The Lions have six warm-up games before the First Test at Durban’s ABSA Park on June 20. And Bentley insists: “It’s so important that the midweek side sets the tone of the tour. “If you can get a winning run and habit going up to the Tests it makes life in the games that really matter so much easier. It sets the standards for the Test team to live up to and better. That’s how it was in 1997. Because we did so well it put pressure on the rest of the guys who were considered certainties for the Tests. You suddenly had guys knocking on the door and determined to break it down. “The victories and heroic performances of that midweek team meant everyone in the camp walked around with a smile on their faces and a spring in their steps. We knew we had already made a statement to the South Africans - and we knew they then feared what the Test guys could do. The momentum had been established and things just lifted off from there. “I remember the midweek side was labelled a bunch of dirt-trackers. But we never had any dirt-trackers in our side. We were all fighting to force our way into the Test side. Luckily I did just that. “South Africa is a fantastic country to visit and play rugby in because they worship the game there. They were the reigning world champions in 1997, yet they rather arrogantly went into the first two Tests against us without a recognised goal kicker They picked Henry Honiball at outside half before introducing Percy Montgomery for the third Test. Percy kicked the goals in the final game and steered the Springboks to victory, but by then we had won the series. That was 12 years ago and they have been waiting ever since to get their revenge. “That third test victory may have eased some of the pain for the Springboks and their fans after losing the series, but there is pressure also on the Lions to deliver again after only one victory in their past six Tests. The Lions will always be strong and will always have a special place in the rugby world. But I don’t think they can afford to lose a third series in a row and head to Australia in four years time without a win in 16 years. “There is an opportunity for a group of players to put northern hemisphere rugby back where it was 12 years ago. That would be fantastic. After what happened in New Zealand it will do the whole Lions tradition the world of good to have a very successful and enjoyable tour to South Africa. It is going to be a tall order to win there, but it certainly can be done. We

WHEN

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weren’t supposed to beat the world champions, but we pulled and blended together, worked hard and achieved something very special. “We spent the first week on tour really gelling and getting to know each other. We became a team very quickly because we knew we simply had too in order to have a chance of beating a very good South Africa side. To be picked for the Lions in the first place was magnificent. I knew I was in with a chance even though England weren’t picking me because I’d had a few conversations with Fran Cotton about the tour. “He said I was in their thoughts and that it was down to me to play well for Newcastle and convince the selectors. But then to be given a start in the test matches was unbelievable. “Jim (Telfer) and Geech (Ian McGeechan) told us all we had the chance to make history before that second Test. They said that in years to come we would meet each other again and be able to exchange a knowing glance - it was a fantastic feeling and every time we meet up we know what we have achieved. “ Things have changed since 1997. Some things for the better but some for the worse. Yet the basics are the same. You simply must be able to play rugby and, just as important, you have to have characters and personalities in the team. Even when things go bad and it’s not looking good you need people to be able to smile and keep going. Adversity can sort out the men from the boys - but on a Lions trip you all have to be men who are pulling together and facing up to how tough it is. “The Lions have the right men at the helm and Geech has assembled the right coaching team to work with him. I’m pleased he has decided to take a smaller squad than four years ago and there are some other key changes. The fact the players will all be flying out together is one of them, as is the fact they will be sharing rooms. “There is such a short space of time for the players to bond together that it is vital there are no splits in the camp and nobody flying solo. We made sure that players from different countries roomed with each other and worked hard to building unity within our group in 1997. “I can remember going to the first training session before we left and all the rugby league boys (Dai Young, Scott Quinnell, Alan Tait, Allan Bateman, Scott Gibbs and myself) tearing into everyone. Martin Johnson commented on the intensity of the training and it was all aimed at setting a standard for the tour ahead. It certainly seemed to work and we worked very hard in training for the whole tour. “Without a doubt Clive Woodward took too many players in 2005. In 1997, Fran Cotton, Jim Telfer and Geech picked players who had just come back from rugby league and from outside the Premiership in England. That was a bold move. The one thing that Geech always does is pick players who are in form. He doesn’t pick on reputation. “Twelve years ago the Lions management were very focused on the type of player they wanted and were very clever with the players they took. The Boks were a very good side then and they are again now. “It’s going to be very tough but I believe that if anyone can lead another touring squad to South Africa and win there it is Geech.”


BENTLEY

16 winless years, } Facing there is pressure on the Lions to deliver

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If you rest, you rust HOW A FAMILY TRAGEDY TAUGHT LIONS DEFENCE COACH SHAUN EDWARDS THE POWER OF PRAYER AND A POWERFUL WORK ETHIC

} I was out of work for 18 months. Buying a newspaper was the highlight of my day ~ SHAUN EDWARDS has a simple philosophy to rugby life, just as he has to life in general. And it is something which every member of Ian McGeechan’s Lions squad would do well to observe in South Africa. It reads: “You have to be prepared to suffer to succeed. It’s the same in every walk of life. Nothing comes easily. No pain, no gain. If you’re not prepared to put in the hard work, to go through the pain and suffering, both mental and physical, you probably won’t make it. “Jesus suffered on the cross in his life and that’s a reality that inspired and helped me in the good times and the bad.” Defence coach Edwards will be as blunt and brutal with his message to the touring party, which hopes to bring the world champion Springboks down to earth, as he is with those he puts through their paces on the training field with Wasps each week. His hard work and real sense of desire, determination and dedication to the game he loves so much - both Union and League - have seen him to success over the years. It’s helped him climb the ladder from club to Lions coach in eight years. His playing career with Wigan and Great Britain, and then latterly his coaching life with Wasps and then Wales, has been successfully built on plenty of the kind of blood, sweat and tears. The kind that will be needed in the velds and playing fields of South Africa. Edwards, 42, knows just what physical prowess is needed to strong-arm the Springboks into submission having seen them full on in his Wales post at the end of last year. He insists: “Being a Test Match animal is about many things: skill, strength and fitness; aggression and commitment; courage. And that thing that Mike Tyson’s coach, Cus D’Amato, used to talk about - the ability to channel fear. You do it, then you have to do it over and over again. The Springboks are not world champions

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for nothing. They have shown that special blend of being physically strong, skilful and clinical. They have beaten up good opponents over the years, especially on their own territory. “In recent times, they have had a very good bunch of backs to finish off the good job their forwards have done. We have all seen how good the likes of Bryan Habana and J.P. Pietersen can be when they have a ton of ball in empty space. Jantjes, de Villiers, Pienaar, Januarie are all very accomplished and dangerous runners. But they cannot do any such damage without their forwards dominating. And they don’t come much tougher than Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield. They are still playing at the top of their games judging by what they did last Autumn. “You can bet they will be lying in wait and chomping at the bit to face, whatever the Lions can throw at them in the forward line. But with three of the Welsh coaches involved with the Lions you can also be sure that the lessons of losing to the Springboks - when we felt we should have won - will also be hammered home. “For example, we know that against the brilliant South African scrambling defence it is not enough to have 60% of territory and 60% of possession if you don’t make it pay. Our feeling at the end of the autumn internationals was that it was a shame they ended when they did. Wales felt that only by playing against the southern hemisphere would we get up to their level. Which is why, in the run up to the 2011 World Cup, there will be more fixtures arranged. “The coaches from the other Six Nations looked at the videos of what happened last Autumn and that’s why we saw a series of internationals which were fought less in the trenches and more in open field - which is a fair preparation for those players who were eventually picked with the Lions.


EDWARDS

I’ll bet the odds on the Lions will be a whole lot closer by the time we play our first match on May 30 - and a whole lot closer still when the first Test comes around on June 20.” Edwards was brought up as a devout Catholic by his parents in Wigan and used to pray before each game. He drew upon his religion to try and avoid the bad luck experienced by his father, whose career was ended at the age of 24. Hopefully, he won’t need to call upon any divine intervention when the Lions take on their Springboks rivals in the three Tests. He says: “I used to always pray before a game, not to win but to give thanks for the chance to play and that no one would get injured, after what happened to my father. Meditation certainly helps you switch off a bit. It’s something I try to do 30 minutes a day. If I don’t do it for three to four days then I get quite stressed. I’ve had no blinding light, but every now and then you get a feeling of peacefulness over your mind and body and it is blissful. If you could bottle that, I’m sure lots of people would. It does not come easily. Praying takes your mind off yourself, and it’s something that I encourage the players to do.” Edwards became even more embroiled in his religion after the death of his 20-year-old brother in a car crash in 2003. It also helped him to keep the faith when it appeared he had

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become a forgotten rugby figure when his League playing career came to an end after so many successful years with Wigan. “I am a big believer that to rest is to rust” he says. Edwards exclaims: “I remember Phil Vickery signing his latest contract and saying he felt very fortunate because a lot of people were losing their jobs at the moment. Well, that’s exactly how I feel. I’m very grateful I’ve got jobs at the moment with Wasps and Wales - and, of course, the pleasure of going to be involved with the Lions in South Africa. You could say I’m very lucky in my work right now. Rugby has always been my life and now I’ve got the best of all worlds. “It’s worked out very well with Wasps. They were good enough to allow me to help Gatts (Warren Gatland) out with Wales - which was a fantastic opportunity for me at another level of the game. But now I’m about to step up an even higher level with the Lions. It’s a real dream to come and something that I see as such a massive challenge to my ability. “It’s and exciting time for me right now but it hasn’t always been like this. I know the other side of the coin when I really was at a low ebb and wondering what the future held. I was out of work for 18 months after I finished playing rugby and they were dark days. For me, just walking to the shop to buy the paper was the highlight of my day. That’s how grim it was. But in life things can change this way and that way. You just never know what’s around the corner. So if ever I get too stretched in my current role I quickly think of how it could be.” Edwards is certainly relishing teaming up with good friend and old Wasps ally Gatland in their roles with the Lions. For some reason the men who were born half a world apart - one in Wigan, the other in Hamilton, New Zealand - get on like a house on fire and usually share the same rugby beliefs. Edwards will knock the backs into a steely shape, while Gatland will make sure the forwards have enough huff, puff and power to make life too hot for their Springbok rivals in the boiler room. Edwards admits: “We’ve built up a very good understanding and friendship. He knows me inside out and I think I know him pretty well. He knows what he likes and knows how to get it. I think Gatts and I get on well because we’re fairly similar in our outlook to life. He doesn’t like being a brave loser. He likes being a winner. We certainly had some good and enjoyable times together when he was Wasps Head Coach. Hopefully, we can have even better ones with the Lions this summer. It’s certainly going to be an experience never to forget.”

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DREAM XV

Dream fifteen THE PRIDE OF LIONS XV AND A SUBS BENCH TO DIE FOR

COACH IAN MCGEECHAN (SCOTLAND)

Is this the ultimate British Lions dream team of all time, with Ian McGeechan in charge, of course?

15 JPR WILLIAMS (WALES)

14 GERALD DAVIES (WALES)

Tests: 8 (Tours 71,74)

Tests 5 (68,71)

13 BRIAN O’DRISCOLL (IRELAND)

SUB: ANDY IRVINE (SCOTLAND)

SUB: IEUAN EVANS (WALES)

Tests 4 (01,05)

Tests: 9 (74,77,80)

Tests 7 (89,93,97)

SUB: SCOTT GIBBS (WALES)

JPR on the charge was a sight to behold. A strong runner, he could unsettle any defence. Aggressive tackler, rock-solid under a high ball. Fearless and as competitive as any rugby international. No great kicker but once landed a drop goal from 40 yards to draw the fourth Lions Test in 1971. Key figure in the two great Lions teams of 1971 and 1974. Irvine had devastating pace and exceptional leadership qualities. A former Scotland captain, he had superstar status and is now a highly respected ambassador for the game. Wonderful on the counter attack.

The quicksilver Davies was a mainstay of the great Welsh sides of the Seventies. The cutting edge of one of the finest Lions back divisions of all time. Effective and fearless. Now, a highly respected journalist and rugby ambassador, highlighted by his election for as Tour Manager of the 2009 Lions. Evans was a world class winger in one of the worst Welsh sides in rugby history. Solid in defence, outstandingly quick, with a great touchline dummy. Made three Lions tours.

Tests 5 (93,97)

The Irish captain made an indelible hallmark on the Lions dynasty by scoring one of the greatest tries in their history against Australia in 2001, Great defence, flair attacker, astonishing eye for a gap, and pace to breach most defences. Gibbs was arguably the greatest single influence on the 1997 Lions series victory in South Africa. Strong as, yes, a Lion. Os du Randt still carries the scars of his mighty challenge in the Durban Test.

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12 MIKE GIBSON (IRELAND)

11 JJ WILLIAMS (WALES)

10 BARRY JOHN (WALES)

Tests 12 (66,68,71,74,77)

Tests 7 (74,77)

Tests 5 (68,71)

SUB: JERRY GUSCOTT (ENGLAND)

SUB: JASON ROBINSON (ENGLAND)

SUB: PHIL BENNETT (WALES)

Tests 8 (89,93,97)

Tests 5 (01,05)

Tests 8 (74,77)

One of the greatest ever Lions three-quarters. Created fierce mental and physical presence with disciplined fitness level. Five Lions tour testament to his reliability and consistency. Guscott dominated England teams for a decade with lovely running skills. Outstanding tackler. Who will forget his drop goal Lions series winner in 1997?

JJ was a Welsh sprint champion. Scored a brace of tries in two Tests on the 1974 Lions tour. Devastating on the hard Springbok grounds. A revelation for Wales in their golden years, though never given the legendary status he merited alongside the Edwards’, Bennetts’ and JPRs. Billy Wizz made outstanding start to his Lions career with a famous try in the first Test in Australia in 2001. Scored another in the final Test and went on to star handsomely in England’s World Cup winning campaign. Quick, nimble, best sidestep in rugby.

John was a Lions legend who retired too soon. Between 1970-72 he was the world’s finest rugby player. Subtle running skills enabled him to snake through tackles with deceptive turns of pace and direction. A ghost in the red of Wales and the Lions. Lovely handling skills and kicking accuracy that lasered on its target. He dominated everything on the 1971 Lions tour. Bennett’s ill-luck was to have enjoyed an outstanding career that coincided with John’s last two years. Brilliant attacking player, with adhesive handling skills and a sidestep that ran Lions opponents ragged on the Invincibles tour of 1974.

9 GARETH EDWARDS (WALES)

8 MERVYN DAVIES (WALES)

7 FERGUS SLATTERY (IRELAND)

Tests 10 (68,71,74)

Tests 8 (71,74)

Tests 4 (71,74)

SUB: CLIFF MORGAN (WALES)

SUB: DEAN RICHARDS (ENGLAND)

SUB: RICHARD HILL (ENGLAND)

Tests 4 (55)

Tests 6 (89,93)

Tests 5 (97,01,05)

Rugby legend dictates that Edwards has to be the greatestever player to pull on a Lions shirt. A colossus on three Lions tours in 1968, 1971 and 1974. Who will forget the barrel chested number 9 peeling off the base of the scrum to burst through defences with a momentum that was unstoppable. Strong, fast, lovely hands, courageous, committed, and a gentleman. Morgan was a genius in attack and in producing dogged defence. Best remembered for his stunning Lions performances with that 9-6 defeat of the Springboks at Capetown in 1955 still remembered as his finest hour. Fast and elusive, brave, with a never say die attitude.

Merv The Swerve had no great physique, but his strength, pace and athleticism compensated for lack of muscle. Effective in attack and defence, he was great in an around the lineout. No player distributed better ball than Davies from the set-piece on the 1971 and 1974 Lions tours where he was an ever-present in the Test packs. Who knows how good he could have become had his career not been curtailed by a brain haemorrhage in 1976. Deano’s immense physique, success as controller-in-chief of the rolling maul, and unique sense of anticipation when judging the best moment to intervene, he became an ever present in Tests on the 1989 and 1993 tours. A major influence on both tours.

Dynamic, larger than life figure, Slattery was a cult figure in the Seventies. Made his name on the 1971 Lions tour, but peaked in 1974 with brilliant displays against the Springboks. Barnstorming performer, fusing fire, speed and aggressive commitment to his renowned fitness levels. Hill became gave exceptional performances in the first two Tests in 1997 and was named man of the series in 2001. An England World Cup winner, he was another star performer to succumb to injury on the 2005 Lions tour.


DREAM XV

6 LAWRENCE DALLAGLIO (ENGLAND)

5 MARTIN JOHNSON (ENGLAND)

4 WILLIE JOHN MCBRIDE (IRELAND) CAPTAIN

Tests 3 (97,01,05)

Tests 8 (793,97,01)

Tests 17

SUB: ROGER UTTLEY (ENGLAND)

SUB: JEREMY DAVIDSON (IRELAND)

(62,66,68,71,74)

Tests 4 (74)

Tests 3 (97,01)

SUB: GORDON BROWN (SCOTLAND)

Dallaglio reached his zenith on the 1997 Lions tour. Stood toe to toe in battle with the Boks. Never gave an inch. Hard man, physically intimidating, a winner. Crocked on the 2001 (knee) and 2005 (ankle) Lions tours, he never quite fulfilled his ambitions, but few could quarrel with his greatness. Uttley was a magnificent blindside flanker as he proved on the victorious 1974 Lions tour to South Africa. Strong, fearless, an outstanding England captain, he brought a physical presence to the Lions tourists. Another whose Lions career was blighted by injury.

Jonno established himself as a Lion after winning only one England cap. Dominated the lineout with Martin Bayfield on the 1993 tour to NZ. Outstanding performance in the winning second Test. Reached his peak as captain of the triumphant 1997 Lions tour. Colossal strength and an intimidating opponent when employing all his Lions experience to lead England to the 2003 World Cup. Davidson gave impressive performances on two Lions tours before his career was curtailed by a knee injury. Absolutely outstanding, at blindside flanker or lock.

3 GRAHAM PRICE (WALES)

2 KEITH WOOD (IRELAND)

1 FRAN COTTON (ENGLAND)

Tests 12 (77,80,83)

Tests 5 (97,01)

Tests 7 (74,77,80)

SUB: IAN MCLAUCHLAN (SCOTLAND)

SUB: JOHN PULLIN (ENGLAND)

SUB: SYD MILLAR (IRELAND)

Tests 7 (68,71)

Tests 9 (59,62,68)

Wood’s bullocking charges, effort and aggression eclipsed the Boks on his sensational tour in 1997. No player gave more effort than the courageous, ebony tough Irishman in the decisive second Test at Durban. A true sportsman, but a warrior in battle. Pullin, former England captain, became the world’s best hooker in the early Seventies. Heroic on the 1971 Lions tour. Rugged and strong, a perfectionist when it came to set-piece play. First choice hooker on the Lions tour of 1968 and in 1971 proved himself to be world class.

At tighthead or loosehead, Cotton was versatile and technically gifted. One of the fittest Lions of his generation. First choice at tighthead on the winning Lions tour of 1974. Played three of four Tests in NZ three years later at loosehead, and toured again with the Lions in 1980. Lions tour manager 1997, a tribute to his great playing and leadership skills in the famous red jersey. Millar made three Lions tours. Powerful prop with ever consistent performances. Highly mobile and clever. He won nine Lions caps.

Tests 8 (71,74, 77)

The greatest of all Lions captains, and, in his way, even more influential than Gareth Edwards, regarded as the greatest-ever Lion. The Enforcer, guiding light, inspiration, a leader second to none, McBride was made for Lions touring. Tough, physically hard and disciplined. The most capped forward in Lions history, playing 17 times for them overseas. Strong scrummager, powerful mauler, the man who ordered his players to ‘get your retaliation in first’. Brown was a magnificent tourist on the epic 1971 and 1974 tours. Scored eight tries on the latter tour. Unmoveable in the scrum, sure in the lineout, and surprisingly fluid in the loose. Only forward to gain selection for all three Lions tours in the Seventies.

Tests 8 (71,74)

A member of the famous Pontypool front row with Charlie Faulkner and Bobby Windsor, Price was immensely strong and a powerhouse on three Lions tours in 1977, 1980 and 1983. Mighty Mouse’s gladiatorial spirit on the 1971 Lions tour rewarded by a vital try in the first Test. He was an ever-present again four years later in South Africa. Small for a prop, but remarkably strong.

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ROB

Howley is a firm believer in using your head when it matters most - especially when the pressure hits boiling point in the heat of rugby battle. So it’s no surprise that the ex-Wales and Lions hero is adamant that the recipe for success in South Africa is driven by brain power as much as it is by sheer brute strength and brawn. Howley was certainly renowned for playing the game with skill, style and plenty of the old grey matter. And, while Warren Gatland and Graham Rowntree hone the physical prowess of the forward brigade, the quietly spoken Howley will be working hard to instil some “intelligent rugby”

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HOWLEY

The 38-year-old Bridgend-born former scrum-half claims: “It’s that fine balance isn’t it? Be physical when you have to be physical but also be smart and intelligent when the occasions arise and do the right things at the right time. The South Africans are good at outwitting their opponents. Therefore we have to beat them to the punch and out-smart the Springboks in every way we can. “The physicality and the efficiency at the break down is going to be key against South Africa. And our ability to move that Springbok front five around is also so important to our chances of getting on top of them. “You also need intelligence, continuity and real pace to make inroads into their defence, which is as good as there is in world rugby. If you look at our backs it’s good to have the balance and the pace as well as the steppers on the hard grounds to create opportunities and take those opportunities.” How highly does the Lions backs coach rate the No9s, who have been chosen to follow in the illustrious footsteps of himself, Gareth Edwards, Matt Dawson and the like? Howley insists: “The competition for the scrum-half jersey is as fierce as it is for any position. We have some very talented and high quality performers pushing for a starting place in the First Test. “Before injury ruined Tomas O’Leary’s chances of playing any part in the Lions tour, he was excellent for Ireland in the Six Nations and again was outstanding for Munster against Ospreys in the Heineken Cup. His combination with Ronan O’Gara seems to work very well at club and international level. He has matured over the past twelve months because he has been given that opportunity by the Irish, having spent so much time as understudy to Peter Stringer. “Harry Ellis has been playing for a very in-form team in the Guinness Premiership and Heineken Cup. He has certainly got that x-factor and shown what he can do at international level with England. He has quick hands and a quick brain - which is essential for any top No9. Mike Phillips is the same. He also can do special things in and around the scrum and he has shown with Wales that he can provide outstanding service for the backs to feed on.

Above: Caption?

“When you consider the likes of Mike Blair, Danny Care and Dwayne Peel failed to make the squad, it proves just how strong we are with our No9s. We took into account how those players performed in last Autumn’s international games rather than just the Six Nations. It would have been wrong to forget how they did against the Southern Hemisphere teams.” Howley revealed the only real disappointment when it came to selecting the different positions concerned the flyhalves where the decision was made to take just two rather than the usual three the Lions have called on in the past. He says: “We wanted to go with three No10s and, as selectors, we were disappointed that the third No10 did not put his hand up to be picked. We watched the likes of James Hook, Danny Cipriani and Sam Vesty, but then we had to decide whether it was worth taking an extra fly-half who might just be going along for the ride. We felt it better that another player in a different position would be a better choice rather than someone who wasn’t really going to be considered for a place unless of injuries.” The Lions certainly had the reverse headache when it came to the centres with so many outstanding players vying for places on the plane. And, according to Howley, this is an area where the team can flourish against the Boks. “Brian O’Driscoll, Tom Shanklin, Jamie Roberts and Riki Flutey can all play No12 or No13. They are players known for their strength, speed and power. We also have Luke Fitzgerald who can switch inside from the wing and, along with Keith Earls, I think we have plenty of options in that area. “It’s the same with the wings. There is probably a little less experience in the players we are taking than perhaps on previous tours, but the quality in depth is still there with exciting runners like Leigh Halfpenny, Ugo Monye and Tommy Bowe.” Howley played in the 1999 Rugby World Cup, captaining his country in the process until he left the field injured against Australia in the dying minutes of the quarter-final. After making his Wales debut in February 1996, he was selected for the 1997 Lions tour to South Africa. Only to miss out on playing in the 10 games because of a shoulder injury, robbing the side of one of its’ main inspirations and architects. Having made his Lions debut in Australia in 2001, captained the team and playing in the first two Tests, he was then ruled out of the final one with a broken rib. He moved from Cardiff to Wasps before a wrist injury brought his playing career to a halt in 2004 at the young age of 31, having played 59 times for his country, 22 as captain. No-one understands better than Howley the real emotional extremes as well as the good and bad fortune which can afflict players in a relative short space of time, especially when hopes and expectations run high at the beginning of such a potentially historic tour. He insists: “Rugby life can lift you sometimes, but it can also kick you when you least expect it. I found out how difficult it can be to work so hard and train so hard only for all that to be blown away by an injury. “But you just have to get over it and fight back. Injuries are part of a rugby career. We all know we’re going to get injured at some stage or other. Unfortunately, for me it happened at two very important times with the Lions. But I’m still very proud and privileged to have represented the most famous rugby team in the world. “It’s would be a dream to be part of a series win in South Africa as a member of the coaching staff. That feat alone matched anything I did as a player.”

put their hands up” Lions Update 2009 magazine

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THE

SEVEN VENUES CHOSEN TO HOST THE BRITISH AND IRISH LIONS MATCHES AND THE COMPLETE MATCH-BY-MATCH TOUR ITINERARY CONTAINING DATES, VENUES, AND INTERESTING FACTS FOR CONVERSATION PIECES SHOULD TOUR FOLLOWERS BE LOST FOR WORDS…

BATTLE GROUNDS 1

Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace Stadium 1

Rustenburg 3

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Lions Update 2009 magazine

Match:

30 May v International Highveld XV

Capacity:

42,000

Special Features:

Renovated to boost capacity by 4,000 for Lions tour

Climate:

16deg C (60F)

History:

Opened for 1995 World Cup. Hosted Scotland’s matches.

Lions Watch:

$45m stadium upgrade completed March 2009. Nightlife limited but lively near the bus station. Big screen televised sport at Palm Lodge. Sports cocktails served at Cafe Voices. Backpacker bar at Travellers Inn in Leyds Street. Citrus and tobacco growing area. A host city for 2010 FIFA World Cup. Check closing-time. Last orders at 9.30pm sometimes.


BATTLE GROUNDS

4

2 5

Coca-Cola Stadium

6

2

Johannesburg Match:

3 June v Golden Lions

Match:

4 July

Capacity:

61,000

Special Features:

v SOUTH AFRICA

Hosted record 100,000 for Lions Test 1955. Lions had already won series when they lost here in 1997.

Climate:

16deg C (61F) for the first fixture, a shade hotter for the Test.

History:

Built 1928, scene of SA World Cup triumph 1995.

Lions Watch:

High altitude could favour the Boks on this ground unless Lions properly acclimatised. Remind locals of British and Irish concern over the crass decision to drop the stadium name ‘Ellis Park’ in this commercially driven age. $US 1.5billion has been invested in tarting-up the city centre for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Hire car best form of transport, but don’t obey traffic lights on red at night for fear of car-jacking attack. Avoid walking at night unless in group or with the Lions front row. Metrobus service but taxis best. Lost and the worse for wear, please adhere to location tip that giant Hillbrow Tower is near city centre, and Brixton Tower to the west of the city. Killing time? Do Township Tour at Soweto.

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BATTLE GROUNDS

»

Newlands Stadium

Loftus Versfeld

Capetown

Pretoria

Bloemfontein

Match:

13 June v Western Province

Match:

27 June

Match:

6 June v Cheetahs

Match:

23 June v Emerging Springboks

Capacity:

45,000

Capacity:

48,000

Capacity:

51,000

Vodacom Park Stadium

Special Features:

3

Bloemfontein Zoo is one of the few animal parks in the world offering sleepover facilities.

Climate:

17deg C (63F)

History:

Lions the first international team to play here in 1955.

Lions Watch:

J.R. Tolkien ( author of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit) born here 1892. British Olympic athlete Zola Budd lives in the City of Roses. Mention Allan Donald, a local boy who made good in Test cricket. But don’t dwell too much on the late Hansie Cronje, whose captaincy of South Africa ended in betting scandal disgrace. Visit Franklin Game Reserve. Designated 2010 FIFA World Cup venue. Founded in 1846 as a British Army fort.

Absa Stadium

Special Features:

18deg C (64F)

History:

1896 British Isles tourists arrived at Capetown too late in the day to disembark. The Boks officials were so keen to lay-on a welcome they took a boat to the liner anchored off-shore and held an official reception on board.

Lions Watch:

4

Match:

10 June v Sharks

Match:

20 June

Capacity:

60,000

Special Features:

Renovated in 2008 for 2010 FIFA World Cup

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium 6

Port Elizabeth Match:

16 June v Coastal XV 48,000

23deg C (73F)

Capacity:

History:

Scene of Jeremy Guscott’s series winning dropped goal in 1997. Purists still call it King’s Park.

Special Features:

Buses run frequently in the city. Combi (group) taxis popular. Try the beach strip with facilities for swimming, snorkelling and canoeing. A “Sundowner” at Joe Kool’s on the beachfront is considered cool. Zack’s is a decent venue for a postmatch drink. No better place to get lost on a day off than the Valley of 1,000 Hills, a nature reserve close to the city. Sub tropical climate. Average 320 days of sun per annum.

Lions Update 2009 magazine

South Africa’s most popular tourist destination. Metrorail travel recommended and bus services frequent. Beaches brushed by ice-cold Atlantic ocean. Look no further than Camps Bay for classy dining at competitive prices. Waterfront venue popular for shopping and wining and dining. Try a wine tasting excursion to Stellanbosch Park and Franschoeki. Eagle-eyed rugby fans doing coastal watch should spot Killer Whales off-shore.

v SOUTH AFRICA

Climate:

Lions Watch:

Scene of Matt Dawson’s Test-winning Lions try 1997.

Climate:

Durban

108

5

Hosting seven football World Cup matches 2010.

Climate:

20dec C (68F)

History:

Lions have won four Tests in Port Elizabeth. SA played first-ever Test in Port Elizabeth.

Lions Watch:

Main bus terminal in Market Square. Metrorail services frequent. Watersport capital of South Africa but beware of a ‘Freddie Pedalo’ late night incident. Many fine beaches - and plentiful too. Home of South Africa’s car industry.

Special Features:

7

v SOUTH AFRICA

Stadium renovation completed in January 2009.

Climate:

19deg C (66F)

History:

Rugby first played on this site in 1906. Lions scored famous victory here in 1955 in drawn Test series.

Lions Watch:

High altitude could favour more acclimatised South Africa. An audience with Welsh Lions last September celebrated the 1955 Lions’ famous 9-6 Test victory at the Loftus Versfeld. Held in Cardiff, the HSBC reunion was attended by pack members Bryn and Courtenay Meredith, and Russell Robins; and wing Gareth Griffiths. Pretoria rail station, good for local trains and as terminal for the famous Blue Train. City streets lined with Jacaranda trees. Church Street (due to be re-named) is one of the world’s longest straight streets in the world and good test of late-night tour sobriety in attempting to walk a straight line.


.


Health Warning to Springboks

E S E H T E R A S T S A BE S U O R E G DAN Adam Jones 6ft 0ins

Euan Murray 6ft 1ins

Phil Vickery 6ft 2ins

20st 0lbs 18st 9lbs 18st 4lbs

Gethin Jenkins 6ft 2ins

18st 7lbs

Andy Sheridan 6ft 4ins

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Lions Update 2009 magazine

18st 7lbs


ROWNTREE

WHEN

it comes to specialist knowledge of the more ugly and brutal aspects of forward combat, few players command more respect than Graham Rowntree, the unsung member of the Lions tour coaching squad. The ex-Leicester, England and Lions prop has not spent 17 years of blood, sweat and ferocious commitment to earning those trademark cauliflower ears without building considerable knowledge and understanding of the dark arts in the boiler room. So, no one is better qualified than Rowntree to describe what the Lions will need from their forwards if they are to crush “the biggest pack on the planet”. Rowntree, who toured South Africa in 1997 and received a second Lions call-up for New Zealand four years ago, has been enlisted by Ian McGeechan to put the shine and finishing touches to the forwards alongside Warren Gatland. He says: “You could say we have decided to unleash the beasts on them. We’ve selected a massive pack to take on the biggest pack on the planet. “We’ve picked two fairly big props because we couldn’t find two as small as the ones which went to South Africa twelve years ago! On that occasion, I thought Tom Smith changed the way propping was going around the world because of his build and his carrying and scrummaging game. And Paul Wallace bossed Os du Randt very well. That was a big part of the reason why the Lions won the series. “But for this tour, the sheer nature of the place we’re going to and the players the Springboks have picked means we have had to pick some big guys as well. And it’s important those big guys can work outside the set-pieces as well. So we have looked very closely at work rates and the guys contributions all over the field. “The South African forwards are huge but they can also play rugby. And they showed just how strong and athletic they are in those internationals last Autumn. So our selection reflects that fact. We have picked some big guys to meet that challenge.” The Lions certainly have gone LARGE all over the pack - but none more so than in the front row department. Adam Jones (6ft and 20st), Euan Murray (6ft 1in and 18st 9lb), Phil Vickery (18st 4lb and 6ft 2in), Gethin Jenkins (18st 7lb and 6ft 2in) and Andy Sheridan (18st 7lb and 6ft 4in). These are the granite cornerstones upon which the Lions management hope to build a triumphant campaign on the rock-hard Veldt playing surfaces. Rowntree’s objective is to ensure the Lions come out on top in the scrum. That department, he says, is where the base for success is built and where British and Irish teams can usually always hold their own against the Southern Hemisphere countries. He insists: “It’s no good being big and strong if your technique has flaws or you don’t have that extra bit of nous in the scrums and mauls. All the best scrummagers have added an extra 10 per cent on top to allow them to put one over the opposition. It comes with experience and being clever as well as very determined. “Take Phil Vickery for instance. He has been a master in that department for many, many years. Guys like him don’t need telling what to do or teaching. He knows it all and does it all out there on the field. That’s why Phil has been at the top for so long. Some people might have been a little surprised to see him selected for another Lions at his age. But I am not. He’s still as good as anyone around when it comes to winning those little battles that matter. “Phil made the most tackles and effective clear outs of all the front row in this year’s entire Six Nations championship. You just can’t argue with that. He’s a joy to coach. He’s like an 18-year-old. People like that we need around and I can’t speak highly enough of him.” Also included in the 37-man British and Irish Lions squad are fellow England forwards Simon Shaw (the only survivor of

} We’ve gone massive ~ SAYS

Captions

GRAHAM ROWNTREE

the Lions’ series-winning squad of 1997), Joe Worsley, Andrew Sheridan and Lee Mears. “Simon brings a huge amount of experience and physicality to the game and that’s just what we need. Joe has been probably our stand out forward in the RBS 6 Nations with incredible durability in terms of the amount of positions he can play. Sheridan’s game has progressed. Injury and lack of game time affected his form in the Investec Challenge series, but towards the end of the Six Nations, and since then, he’s performed well. “And Lee Mears just brings an accuracy to that hooker slot that is unmatched and his work rate is second to none.” “It’s a tremendous honour to be asked to become involved with Geech’s coaching set-up. Having experienced both the highs and lows of Lions rugby as a player I am determined to be part of a winning set-up in 2009 and relishing the opportunity to work with the other coaches to make that happen.” McGeechan. “He brings with him a direct approach and an understanding of not only what we are looking to achieve as a coaching group but also an understanding of the Lions ethos. “The scrum will be an intensely contested area in South Africa and we’ll need to be technically accurate at scrum time from the moment we arrive. It is crucial to have a forward pack that are technically as good as they can be against a renowned set of South African forwards.”

Lions Update 2009 magazine

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THE SECRET OF CREATING A WINNING BRITISH AND IRISH LIONS TOUR…

Face ‘em

RUGBY

fanatics will always point out proudly that when it comes to success size definitely does matter. But the same cannot necessarily be said about Lions tours to the other side of the world. Take Sir Clive Woodward’s extra large invasion party to New Zealand in 2005 which failed miserably and was sent packing with tails between their legs by Dan Carter, Tana Umaga and company. The controversial decision by England’s World Cup winning coach to enlist a brigade of soldiers, generals and health and fitness experts that even Sir Winston Churchill would have been proud of, was ridiculed well before lift-off. And, as it turned out, size proved to be more a short-fall and hindrance than a help. It certainly didn’t boost the enjoyment of the whole sorry affair. More than 50 players got to wear the Lions jersey during the ill-fated trip, which also saw captain Brian O’Driscoll’s campaign ended by that alleged ‘spear tackle’ shoulder injury so quickly and also Lawrence Dallaglio also cut down by injury.

Lions Capers •

PRIVATE GOLF WITH GARY PLAYER - AND 3,000 OTHERS

SEASICK

WILLIE JOHN

OFF THE

CAPE

STRETCHERS INJURED

they stick to the tried and trusted Lions formula - quality, unity and equality rather than size. Welsh scrum-half legend Edwards exclaims: “The last one just wasn’t like a real Lions tour at all. It

} Woodward’s tour was more like a circus ~

Cynics had warned beforehand of bad tidings - and they were sadly proven correct as the Lions were ripped apart in the three Tests while disharmony and discontent simmered off it. It’s something that still rankles with Lions legend Gareth Edwards’ who is adamant the 2009 tour to South Africa will help mend the damage done four years ago. That’s as long as

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Lions Update 2009 magazine

PHIL BENNETT

was more like an army invasion! “So many players. So many coaches. So many specialists for this and specialists for that. I think I was one of the few who wasn’t asked to go! “It was a bit of a mess from start to finish and things just seemed to get worse as the tour went on. It certainly didn’t start well with the injuries to O’Driscoll and Dallaglio. But I


GARETH EDWARDS

NOT

WANTED BECAUSE HE WAS BLACK , BUT

PETER

DE

VILLIERS

SAYS…

toe to toe

Caption Captions

think the problems started well before then. The biggest disappointment for me was the way it was done. It turned into more of a circus with so many people around and clearly the atmosphere and general feeling amongst the squad wasn’t what you expect on a Lions tour. “Lions’ tours are all about having a fantastic, never-to-beforgotten experience being involved in a great tradition and upholding that proud tradition of making friends and having fun off the field and playing fantastic rugby on it. Things went wrong last time and it was a low point as far as the Lions were concerned. But it was never going to be the end of the Lions as some people suggested it might be. They are much bigger than just one disappointing tour. Fortunately there will be only 35 players going on this tour. And I am both positive and confident that this tour to South Africa can help rebuild any damage done to the Lions brand by the events of 2005. “The professionalism is relatively new in the tradition of the Lions tour so it is different nowadays from when I toured in the Seventies. But nothing else has changed. It’s still a group of players from Ireland and the British Isles representing this part of the rugby world and going over to take on another part of it. This will be one of the biggest drawbacks for the Lions tour in comparison to tours that took place, certainly in our time. “One of the big challenges for Ian McGeechan and his coaching staff is that in the quick turnaround they’ll have to actually marry these guys into a team. Kindling team spirit is therefore a major issue for them, but McGeechan knows exactly what is required to bring a Lions side together. It’s an uncanny thing, one minute you’re playing in a blood and guts game against the Irish or the Scots or the English; then all of a sudden you come together. There’s something special about the Lions though. It’s quite difficult to explain why or how they come together. But once you get the jersey, the socks, and all the different colours together, everybody seems to get on the same wavelength. “I’ve experienced some wonderful team spirit in Lions teams that I’ve been part of, and it transcends the countries and the backgrounds and all the little problem areas that we’re aware of. The lads also know what the honour of representing the Lions actually means. The spirit is born out of great tradition and history and the achievements of past Lions teams.

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Lions Update 2009 magazine

45


GARETH EDWARDS

Gareth Edwards Fact-File WALES AND BRITISH LIONS BORN:

JULY 12, 1947, PONTARDAWE, WALES SCHOOL : MILLFIELD

POSITION:

SCRUM-HALF

WALES CAPS: 53 (88 POINTS). AT 20 BECAME WALES’ YOUNGEST EVER DEBUT:

1967

V FRANCE

LAST TEST:

1978

V FRANCE

CAPS FOR LIONS:

10 (3

POINTS)

CAPTAIN.

13 TESTS

AS CAPTAIN

OTHER HONOURS: CBE (2007) DID YOU KNOW:

EDWARDS

NEVER MISSED A TEST THROUGH INJURY

»“All of a sudden then you have a team that’s come together... who play for one another and lay their lives on the line. It’s a wonderful concept. Although we were absolutely focused and determined to get the job done, Christ we had some fun. That was part of what it was all about. The difference is that we had time to do it. We were away for the best part of three-and-a-half months in South Africa in 1974. “There were 22 games in total and two weeks, three in one case, between the four Test matches. That gave us the chance to enjoy a couple of braais (barbeques), dip our feet in the Indian Ocean and get away from it all. Now that I think about it, we even had a mid-tour break, where we spent the best part of a week in the Kruger National Park on safari. We almost needed another pre-tour preparation stint after that to get back on track. Also I think it helped that nobody was guaranteed a place in the Test team back in 1974. You could see the formation of the Test side building up, and when that crucial selection was announced there were a lot of disappointed players who hadn’t made it. But the important element was that they all knew that they had a decent chance to get into the side. There was no doubt that the strength of the ‘74 Lions was the quality of the guys trying to get into the Test team. That kept everyone honest. “As a member of that Test team, McGeechan understands the specific chemistry that underpinned that historic tour. He understands how difficult, and essential, it is to recreate that environment in the professional age when visits are shorter and more intense. And he Above: Habana also understands this: the best fun to be had as a Lion is to participate in a winning series.” Edwards won 53 consecutive caps for Wales, including 13 as captain. He is also Wales’ youngest ever skipper, appointed in February 1968 against Scotland at the mere age of 20. In the 10 seasons he played for Wales, they won seven Five Nations titles and collected three Grand Slams. He went on three tours with the Lions - the first of which was that legendary 1971 trip to New Zealand and the second a very memorable and triumphant one to South Africa three years later. And he has plenty of funny anecdotes of that particular campaign. Edwards recalls: “”In Port Elizabeth, after the third Test, the whole squad went fishing. Billy Steele was violently ill even before the boat left the dock but, of course, nobody gave a damn. All we did was crack open the beers even though the poor guy was dying. When we got about three miles out we dropped anchor. Within five minutes there were another two guys hanging over the rails, within 10, there were five more, until virtually everybody was throwing up, including myself. Thank God the Springboks couldn’t see us moaning and groaning. They might have fancied their chances in the remaining matches. “I’ve never been so glad in my life to see Bobby Windsor getting sick and telling the captain that, if he didn’t pull up anchor right now and return to harbour, he would be the next man overboard. “In the second Test, Phil Bennett ripped open his instep when he caught Ian McCallum’s stud trying to sidestep the Springbok full-back. Benny had been the star of that game and we couldn’t afford to lose

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Lions Update 2009 magazine

him. “Don’t leave now, Benny,” Willie John McBride, the skipper, pleaded. “I need you.” Anyway, Benny stayed on but couldn’t walk for a few days afterwards, so Willie John carried him round on his back. One night, after a few beers, some of the boys decided to go after Willie John. He got wind of it and set off crashing through the bush still carrying Benny on his back with the lads after him. The trouble was that Willie John forgot he was carrying Benny, and when he ducked to go under the branch of a tree Benny caught it. The poor lad was knocked senseless. It almost killed him! “One of the great memories of my career followed a phone call from Gary Player who, a week previously, had won the Open at Royal Lytham. “Player was a big rugby fan and he wanted to take some of the Lions out to thank them for coming to South Africa at such a difficult time politically. Mike Gibson, Gordon Brown and I volunteered, and we set off for what we thought was a quiet four-ball at the Killarney Golf Club in Johannesburg, which was where Player spent his early years as a professional. “The game was meant to be a secret, but when we arrived about 3,000 spectators had turned up. I’ve never been so nervous in my life, but to be in the presence of Player was truly special. His demeanour, approach and attitude on that golf course was something I’ve never forgotten. And, to cap it all, he invited the three of us back to his ranch to have dinner with his family.” But can the 2009 vintage enjoy themselves off it and just as much and also be as successful on the field? Edwards insists: “I have no doubts that the Lions can win out there. They have to believe they can win. It’s going to be tough. Probably tougher than any tour that has been before. The Lions are facing the world champions who will be very well prepared and keen to prove they deserve to be rated the best around. It’s such a very abrasive confrontation whenever the Lions go to South Africa. It’s all about sheer strength, power and aggression. Their forwards love to give the opposition are good going over - and if they get on top of you it’s very difficult to turn things round. “You need to stand toe to toe with these guys and don’t give an inch. You need a pack able to win the big moments and set up the foundations for the backs to do their damage with the ball. South Africa have exceptionally good players in key positions. Their forwards are robust and backs are very skilful. I very much like the Victor Matfields, Bakkies Bothas of this world who are very formidable opponents. “They have a strong tradition of producing guys like this who are hardened battlers and seem to enjoy the physicality of the whole thing so much. In all, the Springbok pack looks very solid and secure. And their backs are pretty impressive and dangerous as well - as they showed when they won the World Cup in France. They can strike at anytime and from anywhere on the field. “South Africa will probably be favourites because they will have played together and they will be confident they will be better prepared. But I believe there is ample time for the Lions to get a good team together and challenge them.”


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Lions Rugby So Far