Lions tour 1974

The Lions enjoyed their best-ever tour as they returned from South Africa unbeaten.

Last Updated: 21/04/13 1:18pm

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The most successful Lions team in history travelled to South Africa for a bruising series but ran out victors.

In the age where referees were from the home nation, substitutions only occurred on a doctor's order and there were no ways to watch off-the-ball incidents, the Springboks were infamous for their aggression.

The tour was the birthplace of the '99 call' that the Lions had created for the in-match confrontations.

The plan was that the referee would be reluctant to send off every Lions player so if one player retaliated then all the players would either pile into the confrontation, or attack the nearest Springbok player. The plan was successful as no Lions player was sent off during the tour.

The visitors were still buoyed by their historic All Blacks victory in 1971 but were denied a whitewash by the narrowest of margins.

Willie John McBride captained the side as the Lions won all seven warm-up matches comfortably, including a 97-0 win over South West Districts, before playing South Africa in Cape Town.

The momentum the Lions possessed was untouchable and they swept away the Springboks in the first Test with three tries from Phil Bennett and a Gareth Edwards drop-goal.

Another fantastic performance by the Lions followed in the second Test. The tourists ran in five tries including two for JJ Williams. Gordon Brown, Richard Milliken and Bennett also scored in the 28-9 win.

They were starting to look unbeatable and the next stop was Port Elizabeth and the remarkable 'Battle of Boet Erasmus Stadium'.

The match was the most violent clash in Lions history - with fights across the pitch. During one altercation, JPR Williams ran 60 yards and punched second row Moaner van Heerden.

Away from the brawls, wo JJ Williams tries and one from Brown were added to by a conversion and two penalties from Andy Irvine while Bennett scored two drop-goals.

The Springboks were again denied a try as the Lions ran out 26-9 winners to take the series.

A whitewash looked certain but the final match finished level 13-13 and denied the tourists a tour clean sweep.


May 15 v Western Transvaal W 59-13
May 18 v South West Africa W 23-16
May 22 v Boland W 23-6
May 25 v Eastern Province W 28-14
May 29 v South West Districts W 97-0
June 1 v Western Province W 17-8
June 4 v SA Federation XV (Proteas) W 37-6
June 8 v South Africa W 12-3
June 11 v Southern Universities W 26-4
June 15 v Transvaal W 23-15
June 18 v Rhodesia W 42-6
June 22 v South Africa W 28-9
June 27 v Quaggas W 20-16
June 29 v Orange Free State W 11-9
July 3 v Griqualand West W 69-16
July 6 v Northern Transvaal W 16-12
July 9 v SA Africans (Leopards) W 56-10
July 13 v South Africa W 26-9
July 17 v Border W 26-6
July 20 v Natal W 34-6
July 23 v Eastern Transvaal W 33-10
July 27 v South Africa D 13-13

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