The Greatest Lions

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Which was the Greatest Lions tour?

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Total Votes : 32

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Post by mckay1402 on Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:44 am

I was watching a doc about the 71 Lions this morning and I was wondering if they could be classed as the greatest Lions. Having seen the pressure that they overcame and the type of rugby they played you have to say that the 71 Lions were certainly up there. Having said that South Africa in 1955 were an awesome force and to draw a series down there was quite an achievement. Again in 1997 the Lions soaked up a hell of a lot of pressure to win. It says a lot about the enormity of a Lions tour that these players and squads are always so highly regarded by their opposition as well as their peers.

Will be interesting to see the outcome...if anyone bothers to vote...
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Post by Biltong on Mon Sep 05, 2011 11:33 am

McKay, i voted for 1974 Lions, but i think most people are now focused on the RWC, so perhaps you should hold this over for after the RWC?
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Post by Cymroglan on Mon Sep 05, 2011 11:42 am

Willie John McBride's 1974 by a country mile 21 wins and one draw

Wikipedia
The best known and most successful Lions team was that which toured South Africa in 1974 under the esteemed Irish forward Willie John McBride, that went 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 unilaterally declared that in their opinion the Springboks dominated their opponents with physical aggression because of their famous size advantage. The Lions thus decided "to get their so-called 'retaliation' in first" with the infamous '99 call' The idea was that the referee would be unlikely to send off all of the Lions if they all attacked. At the 'Battle of Boet Erasmus Stadium', in Port Elizabeth, one of the most violent matches in rugby history, there is famous video footage of JPR Williams running over half of the pitch and launching himself at Moaner van Heerden after such a call.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eha1IdQkz-k&feature=related

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Post by rodders on Mon Sep 05, 2011 12:32 pm

Well the 1997was the only one I actually watched out the above but from my limited knowledge it has to be Willie John Mcbrides's 1974 "invincibles".
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Post by Biltong on Mon Sep 05, 2011 12:34 pm

Rodders, the 1997 Lions weren't all that great, they were outclassed, outscored, but kicked the goals.

The 1974 Lions pulverised the boks.
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Post by rodders on Mon Sep 05, 2011 12:40 pm

biltongbek wrote:Rodders, the 1997 Lions weren't all that great, they were outclassed, outscored, but kicked the goals.

I think thats harsh Biltong. The 1997 lions played some fantastic rugby in the build up to the tests and certainly were good for their win in the 1st test. Matt Dawsons outragious try knocked the wind out of the Boks and the Lions finished that test the stronger team.

The Lions needed a bit of luck and heroic defence and kicking from Jenkins to win the 2nd test and the final game was a dead rubber.

I've no doubt that the 1974 Lions were far greater but the 1997 victory was a fantastic achievement.
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Post by bedfordwelsh on Mon Sep 05, 2011 1:30 pm

In 97 the Boks were expected to win on the back of the 95 WC so whilst the Lions didn't win the series with great flair their guts, determination and teamwork (which has lacked on a few tours) shone through.

That and Jinks' boot Wink
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Post by cabbagesandbrussels on Mon Sep 05, 2011 1:35 pm

89 and 97 are the only ones out of those that were in my lifetime so I'd go for 97 for the follwoing reasons:

- Will Greenwood, not yet an England player, announces himself on the world stage
- Matt Dawson's magic dummy and try in the 2nd test
- Brilliantly led by the legendary MJ
- Tim Rodber played better than he ever did in an England shirt

Also, SA were the World Champions - which again makes the achievement even greater.

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Post by mckay1402 on Mon Sep 05, 2011 1:47 pm

I also voted for the 74 Lions. I think the way they went to the Boks and just didn't lie down was awesome.

I do think the 97 Lions were brilliant the way they dug in and obviously had a great squad spirit but in terms of rugby the 71 and 74 Lions were way ahead.

Biltong

The idea was to take a bit of the tension out of this week...I am getting a bit het up about Friday. a few weeks ago I was confident but now...
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Post by damngoodOvalball on Mon Sep 05, 2011 1:55 pm

biltongbek wrote:Rodders, the 1997 Lions weren't all that great, they were outclassed, outscored, but kicked the goals.

The 1974 Lions pulverised the boks.

Outclassed? Nonsense, Jenkins boot was superior, our attack was superior (Bentley, Tait, Dawson, Guscott), our scrum was superior, and our D was class (Gibbs). We won.

Outscored? Surely SA would have won if they had outscored us.

Sorry Biltong, but that comment was just ridiculous, apart ffrom the 1974 part which was entirely accurate.

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Post by offload on Mon Sep 05, 2011 2:34 pm

1974 best ever. 1971 a great team and deserved the series win. In 1997 the Lions had a good win with some memorable moments but the team doesn't compare to the teams of the early seventies.
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Post by Biltong on Mon Sep 05, 2011 2:48 pm

damngoodOvalball wrote:
biltongbek wrote:Rodders, the 1997 Lions weren't all that great, they were outclassed, outscored, but kicked the goals.

The 1974 Lions pulverised the boks.

Outclassed? Nonsense, Jenkins boot was superior, our attack was superior (Bentley, Tait, Dawson, Guscott), our scrum was superior, and our D was class (Gibbs). We won.

Outscored? Surely SA would have won if they had outscored us.

Sorry Biltong, but that comment was just ridiculous, apart ffrom the 1974 part which was entirely accurate.

During the 1997 Lions tour, the second game was won by the lions scoring 0 tries, 5 penalties and 1 dropgoal. The springboks were all over the Lions scroing 3 unconverted tries and no penalties.

During the thrid test the Boks outscored the Lions by 4 tries to 1, and went on to win the match.

first test 2 tries all
Second test 3 tries to nil
Thrid test 4 tries to 1


What is ridiculous about my statement.

The 2009 British and Irish lions were better than 1997. They were more physical and more balanced. without Jenkins you would have come close to winning that series.

That is why I voted for 1974.
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Post by damngoodOvalball on Mon Sep 05, 2011 3:05 pm

Firstly I agree that the 74 lions were better.

The 3rd test in '97 was a dead rubber just like the lions sole test win in 09 was.

Clearly the 97 lions were not outscored. They won! Niel Jenkins had a great boot. Are you saying that points from kicks don't count? SA "outclassed" the lions by conceding loads of penalties?

The SA scrum was not dominant. One of the reasons we outscored you was because we had the edge up front. We played smarter rugby in 97. Considering you guys were world champions, 3 of your players falling for dawsons school boy dummy is astonishing. Hardly a case of being outclassed

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Post by Biltong on Mon Sep 05, 2011 3:21 pm

Well it is my opinion that they weren't a great Lions side.


If you find my opinion ridiculous then so be it. How many times did Dawson outclass us?

That is perhaps more ridiculous. He is one man not a team.

9 tries to 3 does not give me any reason to believe that was a great Lions side.

Oh, and on the note of us being world champions at the time, the coach Carel du Plessis coached only 8 matches and we lost most of them, so you weren't even playing a Springbok team worthy of being called one of the best, where as the springboks of 2009 were at the top of their game, and the Lions were much more impressive then.
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Post by damngoodOvalball on Mon Sep 05, 2011 4:12 pm

Biltong, What I am questioning is your assertation that SA "outclassed" and "outscored" the lions, when clearly they werent, apart from in the 3rd dead rubber test. I dont think they were a great side, certainly not when compared to the 74 unbeatables, but they won away against the world champion SA side and that is an achievement not to be sniffed at.

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Post by Biltong on Mon Sep 05, 2011 4:28 pm

Ok, let me put this in a way that won't upset you.

The 2009 Lions, played against a World Champion team who was in tact. There were only two retirees Os du Randt and Percy Montgomery.

They were at the peak of their physicality, the 2009 lions fronted up and were unlucky to lose that series. They should have won one of the first two tests.

The 1997 lions played against a Bok team in disarray, we had two coaches that year, Carel du Plessis had to do an ambulance job, the quality of that Springbok team wasn't even close to the quality of the 2009 boks.

Forget about the thrashing of the last test, as you said it was a dead rubber.

In the second test you were outscored 3 tries to none, in my book it says a lot about the execution and finishing. The fact that we missed every kick to posts, was the saving grace in that test. If three tries to nill is not being outclassed, then I don't know what is.

I am not disputing that the Lions didn't front up.

But if the 2009 lions ahd to play against the 1997 Lions I can only see one result.


Last edited by biltongbek on Mon Sep 05, 2011 4:30 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by RubyGuby on Mon Sep 05, 2011 4:29 pm

'71 and 74 without a shadow of a doubt, nothing remotely compares. Brutal and skilful at the same time. thumbsup

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Post by damngoodOvalball on Mon Sep 05, 2011 4:34 pm

biltongbek wrote:Ok, let me put this in a way that won't upset you.


Upset me? What an extraordinary thing to say. I understand the rest of your post but that opening line seems a tad sarky and unnecessary to me.

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Post by Biltong on Mon Sep 05, 2011 4:37 pm

🤦 I give up.
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Post by damngoodOvalball on Mon Sep 05, 2011 4:40 pm

this is just weird

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Post by Biltong on Mon Sep 05, 2011 4:42 pm

Yep. censored
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Post by damngoodOvalball on Mon Sep 05, 2011 4:49 pm

cake

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Post by Biltong on Mon Sep 05, 2011 4:51 pm

Yep. kiss
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Post by Taylorman on Mon Sep 05, 2011 5:30 pm

Other than a drop goal in the 4th test by jpr to secure a draw and therefore a series win by the lowest possible margin. 2.5 to 1.5 against a fairly weak ab team in 71, lions have been dismal in NZ so 74 in my books.
There are two years that stand out for me for NH sides where i can say they were genuinely world beating without a doubt.
74 Lions and 2003 england.
Even thought the abs were unbeaten 74-75 they wouldnt have beaten that 74 lions side.
Abs 70-73 were amongst our poorest years after the 60s heydays. Lost in SA 70, lions 71 and had a poor tour of uk 72-73 losing to france, baa baas and 2 or 3 county sides so 71 wasnt a usual top ab side.
74 lions were fantastic. Dominant in every respect including this poll.
Those who disagree dont really know their rugby as its obvious.

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Post by emack2 on Tue Sep 06, 2011 12:02 am

The 1955 Lions would get my vote the Boks were at the time THE Worlds best side.A leveled series was better,than the 1971 ,and 74 series in my opinions.Both NZ and SA were comparatively weaker than there early 1950`s team.
1959 in NZ was the unluckiest,had some great backs ,a dreadful run of injuries.Played beatiful rugby,but was beaten like so many by the Boot of Don Clarke.

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Post by Taylorman on Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:38 am

emack2 wrote:The 1955 Lions would get my vote the Boks were at the time THE Worlds best side.

Really Alan? Odd... A drawn series where they got a 1 point and 3 point win and lost 2 by largely thrashings in which 12 tries were scored against them is the best Lions team of all time?

Given a year later the largely same Boks team lost to the ABs 3-1 its not really saying a lot.

74 was about complete domination, in my opinion when British rugby collectively peaked, a lonely draw the only thing SA could salvage- test or otherwise. I think a greatest ever selection needs to pass at least one criteria- to win.

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Post by emack2 on Tue Sep 06, 2011 2:59 am

With respect that shows the calibre of the Bok side in 1955,and then to write of the 1956 side as not saying much.
In 1956 the Bok side had a lot of injuries.starting before they landed,1956 was almost a state of war.The Boks were on the receiving end of all the perceived iidignities of 1949.
There game was based on set piece dominance,especially the Scrum,and lineouts,supplying ball for there backs to run.
1956 was a wet winter,the All Blacks played 10man Rugby,kicking halves,a massive pack that RUCKED,and a lot of Hennie Muller clones .
1956 for Nz was what 1995 was for SA,both the Bok sides of 1955 /6 were
good.
A win against any Bok side in SA was good,france were the first to win a series there in 1958.
In my opinion the best All Black side[in my life time]to SA [full tours]was 1960.

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Post by Gibson on Tue Sep 06, 2011 5:57 am

I went for 1974.
Greatest Lion ever? Mike Gibson.

And no phhoking arguments.
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Post by Taylorman on Tue Sep 06, 2011 6:57 am

No arguments from me Gibson. With 5 Lions tours Gibson certainly was a great player.

And Alan 96 was better. Because they won. Something other AB sides couldnt do previously.

Odd you pick two 'greatest' sides- neither who actually 'won'. And I suppose the Boks were useless in 96 as recently crowned World champions?

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Post by emack2 on Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:14 am

Put in the context of tours Taylorman,1996 was a great achievement,4 tests out of 5.BUT it was`nt a tour. NO All Black side has won a tour in SA,1928 is the nearest example but before my time.
AS stated in my opinion 1960 was the most successful tour to SA by NZ[IN MY LIFETIME}Traditional tours ended in 1981-2,unless you count the Cavaliers.
In the time frame I stated a tour by SA,NZ or Lions would include a mini-tour
of Australia first.THEN either 3 or 4 tests plus up to 24 provincial games as well.The touring team was battered by about 8or 9 sides before the First Test.Boks in 1956 faced the Ranfurly shield champs first game up,and first met THE BOOT.
The ONLY team from either SA or NZ was the 1937 Boks captained by Danie Craven,coached by" Ourbaas "Mark Markotter.Gerry Brand the great Bok Full Back/goal kicker was one of the stars.
That side was rated the best ever to leave NZ[including AB`s]under the then laws.The lineout was also a scrum option,NZ were struggling with the scrum,and had very little ball.
TO put my thesis in to context,the Boks lost one test to the Wallabies in 1953.THAT may have been there ONLY post war loss until the Lions 1955,to win one in SA was an achievement.To win 2 at THAT time in SA was a near miracle,only 1928 ABs equalling it,and they were`nt in the poll.
France winning one and drawing one in a Mini-Tour were the first side to win a series in SA.
Incidentally I saw many members of the 1956 side live in 1953,63,
Peter Hilton Jones
Richard " Tiny" White
Kevin Skinner
Ron Hemi
Ian Clarke
Don Clarke
Bill Clark
Ron Jarden
Morrie Dixon

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Post by mckay1402 on Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:56 am

emack

I would tend to agree with you but unfortunately I wasn't around to see it. Although I also wasn't around in 71 or 74 there is plenty of footage to help me decide.

Knowing how strong SA rugby was in 55 does make me edge towards that as possibly the greatest Lions. You only have to look at some of the names that have come down to posterity...
Jeff Butterfield
Cliff Morgan
Tony O'Reilly
Dickie Jeeps
Arthur Smith
Bryn Meredith
Clem Thomas
Rhys Williams

Every single one a Lions legend because of that tour
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