The British & Irish Lions

Tour to New Zealand 2017

1930 | New Zealand & Australia

Lions Rugby 1930 New Zealand & AustraliaIt had been 22 years since the Lions had set foot in New Zealand, but they found that little had changed: the hosts' forward play was as strong as ever and their use of the 'rover' the same source of controversy as it had been in 1908.

The old problems of availability and injury again plagued the Lions. The selectors had to approach 100 players to get the 29 names who eventually sailed, while England forward Doug Prentice was given the captaincy when his national skipper, Wavell Wakefield, was unable to make the trip. Vice-captain Wilfred Sobey, a key player at scrum-half, was so badly injured in the opening match that he did not play again on the tour.

The New Zealanders' continued use of the 'rover', a wing forward who did not pack down in their favoured 2-3-2 scrum formation but instead acted as an auxiliary srcum-half and harassed the opposing stand-off, enraged Lions manager James 'Bim' Baxter to the point that, on returning to England, he had the International Rugby Board re-frame the scrummaging laws to ban the practice outright.

The Lions fielded some outstanding individuals, notably stand-off Roger Spong, centre Harry Bowcott and full-back Jack Bassett among the backs and the great Welsh flanker Ivor Jones in the pack, but their defence was never as impressive as their attacking prowess.

A try on the final whistle by Jack Morley, set up by Jones breaking half the length of the field, gave the tourists a 6-3 victory in the first Test, but the hosts - playing in white to avoid a colour clash with the Lions' navy blue - came back to win the remaining three matches, by 13-10, 15-10 and 22-8.

The Lions won 15 of their 21 games in New Zealand before moving on to play a further seven matches in Australia, including a one-off Test that they lost 6-5 after narrowly failing to score in the dying minutes.

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