1966 | Australia, New Zealand & Canada

The British

& Irish Lions

Tour to New Zealand 2017

1966 | Australia, New Zealand & Canada

Lions Team 1938 New Zealand, Australia & CanadaThe low point for Lions rugby in the 1960s came in New Zealand in 1966. Led by Mike Campbell-Lamerton, who was considered a surprise choice of captain as he had not skippered Scotland that season, they ended up with their worst series of results in that country. The Lions had star quality in their backline in the shape of stand-off David Watkins and centre Mike Gibson, while the pack boasted players of the class of Willie John McBride, Alun Pask, Brian Price, Jim Telfer, Ray McLoughlin, Ronnie Lamont and Noel Murphy.

They went unbeaten through Australia , winning the Tests 11-8 and 31-0, the first thanks to McLoughlin getting his team out of jail and the second through a five-try rampage.

These Lions were being talked about as potentially among the very best, but their bubble burst immediately on arrival in New Zealand . They lost their opening game to unfancied Southland and were defeated in three of their first five.

The tourists walked straight into a golden age of New Zealand rugby, with the All Blacks in the midst of the unbeaten reign of coach Fred Allen. For the first time, the Lions, managed by Irishman Des O'Brien, also had a coach, John Robins.

However, the Welsh former Lion was put out of action by an Achilles tendon injury and his team struggled both tactically and to cope with the physical intensity of their opponents' game. The issue of dirty play dogged the tour throughout.

All four Tests were lost, three of them by substantial margins. After tasting defeat by 20-3 in the series opener, the Lions rallied to lead 9-8 at half-time in the second international and at the death were only a stray pass away from turning their 16-12 loss into a narrow victory.

They were also level at the break in the third Test at 6-6 but failed to score in the second period and went down 19-6 in the end. The dominance of the All Black pack was underlined in the 24-11 win that sealed the whitewash, and although they beat Canada 19-8 on the way home, defeat by British Columbia completed the Lions' gloom.