This book covers the tours from when matches were played on dusty fields and rugby players were transported in carts over poor roads in the Karoo, in coaches that broke down and on slow trains that, on occasion, caught fire. Tours between the World Wars when South Africa dominated the rugby landscape across the world. It follows the famous clashes of 1955 when, for the first time, a crowd in excess of 90 000 attended a rugby match. It deals with the all-conquering 1974 Lions led by the legendary Willie John McBride. Finally, it focuses on the two Lions tours that have visited these shores in 1997 and 2009 following the advent of full democracy and re-admittance to world rugby.
To be a Lion is to reach the pinnacle of rugby achievement in the British Isles. To tour South Africa, where rugby tours originated, is the crowning glory of one’s career. To face the Lions has always been, and will always remain, one of the greatest honours for any player who dons the green and gold of the Springboks.
This carefully researched book is the first ever published to focus on all the matches played by the Lions in the 130 years of contests in southern Africa and recounts famous victories, agonizing defeats and nail-biting draws! A welcome addition to any rugby fan’s bookshelf.
Chris Schoeman co-authored the autobiographies of Springbok rugby legends Danie Gerber, Frik du Preez (South Africa’s Player of the Century), Os du Randt and Dawie de Villiers; other titles include Rugby Behind Barbed Wire; Legends of the Ball; The No.10s: South Africa’s Finest Flyhalves; and South Africa’s Rugby Legends: The Amateur Years. He has also written several books on the Anglo-Boer War, World War I and South African regional histories.
David McLennan is a well-known rare book dealer in Cape Town who has written a number of books related to rugby in South Africa. Together they are the authors of Rugby at Newlands: A History in 50 Test Matches (2015) and Rugby at Ellis Park: A History (2017).