Surprise, surprise

Jerry Guscott's heroic series-winning drop goal in 1997 not only shocked an entire South African nation, it also surprised the man himself. [more]

Surprise, surprise

Jerry Guscott’s heroic series-winning drop goal in 1997 not only shocked an entire South African nation, it also surprised the man himself.

Guscott’s late effort at Durban’s King’s Park gave the Lions an unassailable 2-0 series lead over the world champions but the Bath and England centre insists that he would hardly have been a bookmaker’s favourite to kick the winning points.

"If you’d seen me spraying drop-kicks all over the pitch in training during the previous week – off the outside of my foot, off the inside of my foot, off the end of my toes – you would have bet as much money on me putting it over as you would on a one-legged man in a backside-kicking competition," Guscott says in his autobiography.

"The moment is frozen in time in my memory. Probably because freezing was what was most on my mind. As the ball drifted towards me through the arc of the floodlights everything seemed to happen in slow-motion. I prayed it wouldn’t miss. I prayed it wouldn’t be charged down. The sense of elation I felt when I eventually looked up and saw the drop soar between the posts will stay with me forever."

The man former national coach Jack Rowell dubbed England’s Prince of Centres travelled to South Africa 12 years ago with two Lions tours and five Lions Test caps already to his name but he admits that nothing in his incredible career could compare to the feeling of winning a Test series against the world champion Boks.

"There was a three-word entry in my diary for Sunday, June 29 (the day after the second Test in 1997): ‘Just a blur’. But I know that throughout the blur there was a fixed smile on my face which said that life couldn’t get much better.


Jerry Guscott’s sensational drop goal sealed a series win 12 years ago

"I said before the tour started that we were being badly underrated. Even given five or six differences of opinion over the best Lions starting line up, given our best XV against South Africa’s XV there was no way I was ever going to accept that we were going to be beaten by anything like 20 points a game or three Tests to nil.

"I couldn’t believe how pessimistic people were being about our prospects. We achieved what we set out to do and proved the doubters wrong.

"The Lions have provided most of my best moments in rugby, but that 1997 tour will always have pride of place. Nothing I could ever do will match the achievement of that tour, even if you rolled up all the Grand Slams, cup finals and league titles into one."

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