The Lions Down Under: 1930

The 1930 tour saw the Lions return to Australia for the first time in 22 years. [more]

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The 1930 tour saw the Lions return to Australia for the first time in 22 years.

The outbreak of the First World War had a prolonged impact, with the Lions only returning to action in 1924, six years after the conflict’s conclusion, when they toured South Africa.

A short tour of Argentina followed in 1927 before the Lions finally headed back Down Under.

Just as in 1908, Australia formed the minor part of a tour that focussed predominantly on New Zealand. The Lions played 28 games in 1930 but only seven of those took place on Australian soil.

The results in Australia were mixed – just as they were on the tour as a whole – with the Lions winning five times and losing twice.

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The first of those defeats came in the only Test they played in Australia – a 6-5 loss in Sydney that followed a promising win over New South Wales.

Victories over Queensland and an Australian XV saw the Lions bounce back before a shock 28-3 reverse at the hands of New South Wales.

The Lions did end the tour with a narrow win over Victoria and a 70-point hammering of Western Australia as they finished on an historic high. That 70-3 win in Perth in the final game of the tour was the Lions’ biggest win in their history and would remain so for another 44 years.

Although the single Test the Lions played against Australia cannot be classified as a series, it was the first time that the Lions had ever lost more internationals than they had won against the Wallabies. The Australians would have to wait 71 years before a similar situation occurred with the Lions losing a three-match series by two games to one in 2001.

A little bit of history

In the year that the Lions made their first visit to Australia since 1908, George V was 20 years into his 26-year reign as King; Herbert Hoover had taken office as American President a year earlier; Ruth Rendell, Steve McQueen and Rolf Harris were all born; the first Mickey Mouse comic strip appeared; the Lone Ranger was broadcast on radio for the first time; US astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto; Gandhi began his 200-mile march protesting against the British Salt Tax; the Vatican approved the rhythm method for birth control and Uruguay won the first-ever football World Cup

The Lions arrived in Australia 15 years after surfing was first introduced to the country; 10 years after the formation of the Qantas airline; seven years after Vegemite was first produced; in the same year that Aussie cricketer Don Bradman scored a record 452 not out in one innings and two years before the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Did you know?

The Lions of 1930 received a daily allowance of three shillings for necessities but this sum had to be given in tokens rather than cash.

The game’s amateur status prevented the players from receiving any sort of hard cash so the tour manager James Baxter had to hand out vouchers to spend in the hotel or on board the ship.

Star performer

The star of the tour should have been England skipper Wavell Wakefield but the man expected to captain the Lions was one of a number of high-profile players who didn’t tour.

Also among the absentees were Ireland skipper Harry Stephenson and his compatriots Mark Sugden and Ernie Crawford and Scotland stars Ian Smith and Phil Macpherson.

Of the 29 players who did leave with the Lions, England fly-half Roger Spong was arguably the most talented.

Spong impressed on the Australian leg of the tour and when given space to run in New Zealand but the Kiwis generally prevented him from experiencing that luxury.

The ‘Rover’ system favoured by the New Zealanders in the form of a 2-3-2 and a loose man scrum formation made Spong’s life increasingly difficult and prevented the Lions from reaching their full potential on tour.

The Lions were so incensed by the use of a Rover that Baxter made sure the practice was banned by the International Board when he returned to England after protesting that the rules should stipulate that teams must put three men in the front row.

The squad

The Lions took 29 players and a manager to Australia and New Zealand but they invited far more than that.

The tour organisers were thought to have sent out more than 100 invites but large numbers of Britain and Ireland’s best players were unable to commit to the tour.

Scotland were widely considered to be the best side in Europe at the time but only one of their players was able to make the tour.

As in previous tours, it was Englishmen who made up the bulk of the party. They supplied 16 players, with seven Welshmen and five Irishmen also included.

Leicester and England forward Doug Prentice captained the squad, although his form meant he only played in two of the five Tests on tour.

Just as on the 1924 tour to South Africa, only six members of the squad hadn’t been capped by their countries. This was in stark contrast to the last time the Lions had headed to Australia and New Zealand in 1908 when 17 of the squad were uncapped.

Star scrum-half W Sobey was injured in the first game and played no further part in the three-and-a-half month tour.

Full backs

JA Bassett Penarth and Wales
G Bonner Bradford

Three quarters

CD Aarvold Cambridge University and England
HM Bowcott Cambridge University and Wales
R Jennings Redruth
T Jones-Davies London Welsh and Wales
JC Morley Newport and Wales
PF Murray Wanderers and Ireland
AL Novis Blackheath and England
JSR Reeve Harlequins and England


TC Knowles Birkenhead Park
H Poole Cardiff
W Sobey Old Millhillians and England
RS Spong Old Millhillians and England


GR Beamish Leicester and Ireland
BH Black Oxford University and England
MJ Dunne Lansdowne and Ireland
JL Farrell Bective Rangers and Ireland
JMcD Hodgson Northern
HCS Jones Manchester
IE Jones Llanelli and Wales
DA Kendrew Leicester and England
SA Martindale Kendal and England
HO’H O’Neill Queen’s University Belfast and Ireland
D Parker Swansea and Wales
FD Prentice Leicester and England (captain)
H Rew Blackheath and England
WB Welsh Hawick and Scotland
H Wilkinson Halfifax and England

To view the full list of fixtures and results from the 1930 tour, simply click here

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