2009 British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa


2009 British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa

The 2009 British & Irish Lions Tour to South Africa was confirmed by the South African Rugby Union on Friday 21st September 2007.

The Tour will take place from May to July 2009, with 7 provincial games being played alongside the 3 match test series. This will result in a slightly different format to the 2005 tour with 6 provincial matches being played before the 1st test & with a mid-week game between the 1st & 2nd tests.

It has been confirmed that the Test Matches will be played in Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg.

Lions Chief Executive John Feehan stated in November 2007 that no home test match would be played prior to departure, as had happened in 2005, and that fewer players and personnel would go to South Africa than had gone to New Zealand in 2005. [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml?xml=/sport/2007/11/21/srlion121.xml South Africa to see leaner-looking Lions Mick Cleary, Daily Telegraph 21 November 2007] ]

The tour manager will be Gerald Davies. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_union/7103531.stm Davies named 2009 Lions manager, BBC website 20 November 2007] ] . Head coach for the tour will be Ian McGeechan [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/rugby_union/7390817.stm McGeechan given Lions coach role, BBC website 14 May 2008] ]

History of South Africa Tours

Three years after the first tour, the Western Province union invited rugby bodies in Britain to tour South Africa. Some saw the 1891 team — the first sanctioned by the Rugby Football Union — as the English rugby team, though others referred to it (and rightly so) as "the British Isles". The tourists played a total of twenty matches, three of them tests. The team also played the regional side of South Africa (South Africa did not exist as a political unit in 1891), winning all three matches. In a notable event of the tour, the British side presented the Currie Cup to Griqualand West, the province they thought produced the best performance on the tour.

Five years later a British Isles side returned to South Africa. They played one extra match on this tour, making the total of 21 games, including four tests against South Africa, with the British Isles winning three of them. The squad had a notable Irish orientation, with the Irish national team contributing six players to the 21-man squad.

Four years later, in 1903, the British and Irish team returned to South Africa. The opening performance of the side proved disappointing from the tourists' point of view, with defeats in its opening three matches by Western Province sides in Cape Town. From then on the team experienced mixed results, though more wins than losses. The side lost the test series to South Africa, drawing twice, but with the South Africans winning the decider 8 to nil.

The 1910 tour to South Africa marked the official beginning of British and Irish rugby tours: the inaugural tour operating under all four unions. The team performed moderately against the non-test parties, claiming victories in just over half their matches. The test series, however, went to South Africa, who won two of the three games.

A wait of fourteen years would ensue until another British Isles team tour took place, again in South Africa. The team struggled with injuries and lost all four tests (a game against the Western Province had test status). This tour may have marked the occasion when the team first became known as "the Lions".

Two years after an excellent tour to Argentina, The 1938 Lions toured in South Africa, winning more than half of their normal matches. Despite having lost the test series to South Africa by game three, the Lions won the final test.

The 1955 tour to South Africa proved as successful — or even more successful — than the previous tour that had taken place five years earlier. The Lions left with another imposing record, one draw and 19 wins from the 25 fixtures. The four-test series against South Africa, a thrilling affair, ended in a drawn series.

The 1962 tour to South Africa saw the Lions still win 16 of their 25 games, but did not fair well against the Springboks, losing all three tests.

The 1968 tour of South Africa saw the Lions win 15 of their 16 provincial matches, but the team actually lost three tests against the Springboks and drew one.

Arguably the best-known and most successful Lions team toured South Africa in 1974 under the esteemed Irish forward Willie John McBride. It went through 22 games unbeaten, and triumphed 3-0 (with one drawn) in the test series. The test series was beset by violence. The management of the Lions concluded that the Springboks dominated their opponents with physical aggression. At that time, in test matches the referee was from the home nation, there were only substitutions if a doctor agreed that a player was physically unable to continue and there were no video cameras and sideline officials to keep actions such as punching, kicking, and head-butting to a minimum. The Lions decided "to get their retaliation in first" with the infamous '99 call' (99 is a shortening of 999 which in Britain and Ireland is the phone number for the emergency services such as the police, ambulance or fire brigade). The idea was that a South African referee would be unlikely to send off all of the Lions if they all retaliated against "blatant thuggery". At the battle of Boet Erasmus Stadium, one of the most violent in rugby history, there is famous video footage of JPR Williams running over half of the pitch and launching himself at van Heerden after such a call.

The Lions toured South Africa in 1980. The team completed a flawless non-test record, winning 14 out of 14 non-test matches on the tour. The Lions did however lose the first three tests to South Africa, winning the last one, though the series had already been won by the Springboks.

The 1997 tour to South Africa was a success for the Lions, who completed the tour only losing two games in total. The Lions won the test series two games to one.

Past Tour Results

Schedule

The tour schedule was officially announced by the Lions and the South African Rugby Union on 10 April 2008.cite press release|url=http://www.sarugby.co.za/default.asp?des=article&id=250838 |title=Lions announce itinerary for 2009 tour to South Africa |publisher=South African Rugby Union |date=2008-04-10 |accessdate=2008-04-10]

* 30 May — Highveld XV, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg
* 3 JuneGolden Lions, Ellis Park, Johannesburg
* 6 JuneFree State Cheetahs, Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein
* 10 JuneSharks, ABSA Stadium, Durban
* 13 JuneWestern Province, Newlands, Cape Town
* 16 or 17 June — Coastal XV, TBC, Port Elizabeth
* 20 JuneFirst Test, ABSA Stadium, Durban
* 23 JuneEmerging Springboks, Newlands, Cape Town
* 27 JuneSecond Test, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
* 4 JulyThird Test, Ellis Park, Johannesburg

See also

*List of British and Irish Lions test matches
* [http://www.BritishLionsOnline.com/ British Lions Tour News]

References


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