Did you know…

It is going to be 'Unlucky 13' for someone in 2009. It will be the 13th tour of South Africa undertaken by the Lions - more than to any other country - and it will also be the 13th tour on which the tourists have taken a coach. [more]

Did you know…

It is going to be ‘Unlucky 13’ for someone in 2009. It will be the 13th tour of South Africa undertaken by the Lions – more than to any other country – and it will also be the 13th tour on which the tourists have taken a coach.

For the first time since the Lions began touring South Africa in 1891, Cape Town will not host a Test match. The famous Newlands ground has been the setting for 12 Tests between the two teams in the past, including the first Test victory by the Springboks in 1896.

Newlands has hosted 44 games between various teams and the Lions. In 2009 it will again host the tourists when they meet Western Province and the Emerging Springboks.

The first 13 home Tests played by South Africa were all against Lions touring teams. They won four, drew two and lost seven of them.

The Springboks have won their last 13 home games against England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. You have to go back to 2000 for their last home defeat by a British or Irish side – 24 June, 2000: South Africa 22, England 27 in Bloemfontein.

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The only survivor from that game for the Springboks is John Smit, who was an unused replacement that day. The England side contained Mike Tindall, Ben Cohen, Jonny Wilkinson, Julian White and Danny Grewcock, with Joe Worsley and Simon Shaw among the used replacements.

The Lions will play their 600th touring fixture in Game 2 on the 2009 tour when they meet the Golden Lions at Coca Cola Park on Wednesday, 3 June, That total includes ‘unofficial’ matches played at the end of tours in Canada, East Africa, Fiji and Ceylon.

The Lions will break new ground when they kick-off their tour against a Highveld XV in Rustenburg. It will be the first time they have played in that city.

The first Test played by the Lions was at the Crusaders Ground in Port Elizabeth on 30 July, 1891. The Lions won 4-0. The Lions will play in Port Elizabeth against a Coastal XV – their 26th match in the city.

The first Test try scored by the Lions came from the English centre Randolph Aston. He played in each of the side’s 20 matches and scored 30 tries. He was 1.90m(6ft 3in) tall and weighed 96kg (15st).

Aston’s brother, Ferdy, went on to play against the Lions for the Springboks in 1896. Born in Cheltenham, he played in all four Tests, captaining the side in the 2nd and 3rd Tests, and was in the first South African team to win a Test match, and beat the Lions, in Cape Town on 5 September, 1896.

Four of the Lions management and coaching staff made their Lions debuts in South Africa:
Gerald Davies (Tour manager)
18 May, 1968 – Western Transvaal 12, Lions 20
Ian McGeechan (Head Coach)
15 May, 1974 – Western Transvaal 13, Lions 59
Rob Howley (Backs Coach)
24 May, 1997 – Eastern Province Invitation XV 11, Lions 39
Graham Rowntree (Scrum Coach)
28 May, 1997 – Border 14, Lions 18

The British & Irish Lions have won only once in their last seven test matches. They lost 3-0 in New Zealand in 2005, 2-1 in Australia in 2001 and lost the last Test in South Africa in 1997 having earlier clinched the series.

The Lions have won four and drawn one of the 12 Test Series’ against the Springboks. The victory in 1997 was their first in South Africa since 1974.

The side that has won the first Test between the Springboks and Lions has gone on to win the series on the last four tours – SA in 1968 and 1980 and the Lions in 1974 and 1997.

When the Lions beat Northern Free State 67-39 it was the third highest score they had ever achieved in South Africa. But the 39 points they conceded was the most ever leaked by a Lions side in South Africa.

The last time the Lions lost a midweek match was in their penultimate game of the 1993 tour to New Zealand. The defeat came at Rugby Park, Hamilton, where Waikato beat the tourists 38-10. Included among the scorers that day was Warren Gatland, with a try for the home team.

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