Series decided by small margins

Sir Ian McGeechan believes the 2009 series result against South Africa could so easily have been different. [more]

Series decided by small margins

Sir Ian McGeechan believes the 2009 series result against South Africa could so easily have been different.

The Lions were comfortable 28-9 victors in the third Test in Johannesburg but it was the Springboks who finished last summer’s series as 2-1 winners.

That was after the Lions had come within a single score of a stunning first Test comeback and then been beaten at the death in the second rubber in Pretoria at the end of June.

The margin of defeat in those Tests was just five and three points respectively and McGeechan feels it could well have been the Lions celebrating their first series victory in 12 years had a few minor things gone their way.

"We got a couple of 50/50s in the third Test," said McGeechan, who was knighted in the New Year’s Honours List following an incredible seven tours with the Lions as a player and a coach.

"We’ve said all along that the games could have gone either way. We didn’t have the breaks and we missed out on some things in the other Tests. We could have been 2-0 up or 1-1 but we were 2-0 down and that’s how tight it’s been.

"In the third Test, I thought we were very accurate in what we were doing and we were very intense. Tactically, we kept to how we wanted to play and we were very accurate in doing that."

Despite the disappointment of the series defeat, the most experienced coach in Lions history admitted that he and his fellow coaches would not have changed their tactics, approach or anything else in the build up to the series with the benefit of hindsight.

"There’s absolutely nothing we would have done differently," added McGeechan.

"It’s been a fantastic series. I have to say congratulations to the Springboks; they’ve won the series. We came out to win the series but they’ve won it and congratulations to them for that. "That’s international sport, and this is Test-match rugby – it’s played on the edge."

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