In an era when the Springboks ruled through physical intimidation, the Lions - captained by Willie John McBride - had a tough job on their hands.
Unusual challenges call for unusual measures and the tourists conjured up a novel way of biting back in South Africa.
When the call of '99' went up during a match, red jerseys headed straight to the nearest Springbok to hand out some physical intimidation of their own.
It was a sight to behold and - as it turned out - a winning formula, as the Lions went on to clinch a 3-0 series victory.
Fast forward 15 years - without a series win during that period - to Lions legend Ian McGeechan's first tour at the helm.
After kicking off the tests with a 30-12 defeat, the Lions were left with a mountain to climb, knowing another slip-up would see the wait for series glory go on at least another four years.
But that was not to be how things panned out and the Lions, inspired by the wizardry of Gavin Hastings and Jeremy Guscott, hauled themselves back into it.
They would become the first Lions side to come from behind to win a Test series, while McGeechan would go on to lead the side as head coach three more times in the next 20 years.
One of those was in 1997, when the Lions travelled to face world champions South Africa and McGeechan's magic touch would bring another series win.
However, it was another member of his staff - forwards coach Jim Telfer - who provided the most memorable moment of the tour.
The former Scotland back-rower produced a stirring speech ahead of the first test against the Springboks, which set the tone for a superb series.
Lions history is brimming with unlikely heroes and while Telfer was exactly that in 1997, it was the turn of Simon Shaw in 2009.
Shaw had been selected for the 1997 tour as a 23-year-old and again eight years later when the Lions visited New Zealand, without ever earning a Test appearance.
In 2009 he returned to South Africa and became the oldest player ever to be selected to play for Lions when he was picked to start in the second test.
Shaw responded with an all-action man-of-the-match performance in Pretoria and his emotional post-match interview will forever remain a significant moment in Lions history.
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