After 240 minutes of gruelling and enthralling test match rugby a single moment, in my opinion, swung the whole game in the favour of the Boks. Games are often won (and lost) by the smallest of margins and this was no different. One incident made all the difference. Schalk Burger’s eye gouge on Lions wing Luke Fitzgerald inside 2 minutes of the second test was a cowardly act – by one of the games so-called ‘hardest men’. The referee got it totally wrong – even after Bryce Lawrence (the touch judge) had clearly said “It’s a yellow at best”. For me, and everyone who’s seen and analysed the footage ever since, it was a clear red and Schalk should have been handed a lengthy, rather than 8 week, ban.
A red card would have meant South Africa playing the remainder of the match, 78 minutes, with 14 men. It was hard enough for the men in green with 15 on the pitch, let alone 14. Maybe it should have been the Lions players wearing ‘justice’ armbands for the 3rd test?.
The Lions, in all 3 tests, had the more attacking prowess (try count reads 7 v 5) and they have scored more points in total. They played some great stuff and really had the world champions rattled on more than one occasion. If only luck and sterner refereeing were in the Lions favour I think we would have seen a different outcome. Great to see the boys make it 2-1 today. It would have been a travesty if this series ended 0-3.
Bring on Australia.
Tomorrow sees the first game of the Lion’s tour of South Africa. The Lion’s has always been a big part of my sporting life ever since 1997 when the Lion’s beat the Boks (then world champions) 2-1. Lions matches are the best of 3 tests for those that don’t know. Yes, I come from a rugby family – so I suppose you could say I’m predisposed to like the sport – but there’s something very special about the British & Irish Lions. Every four years, four nations (England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales) and the best rugby players in our land come together under one cause – winning against the best that the soputhern hemisphere has to offer. Rivalries are temporarily put to one side and four nations become one – all singing each others national anthems along the way.
The Lions unites four nations in a way unlike any other sport. The Lions fans are the best in the world – I have no doubt about that. They simply outnumber, outsing and outdrink any of the three nations they tour every four years – South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. It was an amazing site to see the Lions dominate (in sheer numbers) the stadium back in the 1st test of the Australian tour in 2001. The Aussies even had to place scarves, hats and yellow t-shirts on seats before the 2nd test – trying to stem the tide, passion and extremely loud noise generated by the red army. “Lions, Lions, Lions”. We’re similar in many ways to our cousins in the southern hemisphere – but different in many others. We tour better than they do, that’s for sure.
Scott Gibbs sets the tone in 1997 - Ouch!
There are some iconic memories from years gone by. The Gibbs tackle (above) that ‘rocked the world’, the same man sitting 22 stone Os Du Randt on his arse, Waltzing O’Driscoll in 2001, Dawson’s dummy, the Bentley try in 97, Jason Robinson sidestepping Chris Latham in what was no more than 1 metre of space…the list goes on. This is why I love the Lions – oh yeah, it’s always nice to get one over the Boks too, it is there No.1 sport after all.
Sky Sports really provides a great build up for the tour and I genuinely believe that their involvement has taken the tour onto a new level. Fingers crossed we produce the magic and passion of 1997. Can’t wait…
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Tagged Australia, Brian O'Driscoll, England, Ireland, Jason Robinson, John Bentley, Lions, Matt Dawson, New Zealand, Rugby, Scotland, Scott Gibbs, South Africa, Wales