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Hall recalls 1989 comeback kings

Hall recalls 1989 comeback kings

While the 1989 British & Irish Lions remain the only touring party to win a series after losing the first Test, their triumph over Australia deserves a greater place in history, according to Mike Hall.

While the 1989 British & Irish Lions remain the only touring party to win a series after losing the first Test, their triumph over Australia deserves a greater place in history, according to Mike Hall.

The former Wales captain played in the centre as Finlay Calder’s side fell to a 30-12 defeat in Sydney, at the time the biggest margin of victory for Australia over the Lions.

Yet a resounding second-half fightback in the following midweek game against ACT Brumbies set the tone for the next Test as the Lions prevailed 19-12 in a bruising encounter at Ballymore, with a 23-year-old Jeremy Guscott starring.

A similarly tight affair in the deciding Test saw the Lions claim a 19-18 win in a game perhaps best remembered for David Campese’s error that allowed Ieuan Evans to score a vital try.

And Hall insists the Lions’ stunning comeback is even more impressive given the media scrutiny they faced Down Under.

“I am not sure that we have been given enough credit for what we achieved that year," Hall told The Guardian.

“What struck me about Australia in 1989 was that you are under the cosh from the moment you arrive – psychological warfare is waged and, if you do not stand firmly together, you will come unstuck. Your resolve is tested unlike anywhere else.

“In the second Test we picked a physical pack and we knew that, great players though the likes of Nick Farr-Jones, Michael Lynagh and David Campese were, they were not so effective when intimidated.

“The build-up to the third Test was dominated by a media campaign against the so-called violence of the Lions but it played into our hands by bringing us even closer together and underplaying the fact that we were a really good rugby team.”

And while Hall did not start after the first Test, the calibre of his teammates and a late arrival after finishing university means the former Wales international has lifelong memories of a special tour.

“We had a reunion a couple of years ago and I remember looking around the room and thinking just how much quality we had in the likes of Dean Richards, Brian Moore, Dai, David Sole, the Hastings brothers, Mike Teague, Jeremy Guscott, Ieuan Evans, Robert Jones and on it goes.

“I arrived late on the tour because I had been sitting my university finals and I loved it. We had a lot of fun and, being young then, I thought it would happen again for me, but was injured in 1993 and there was no second chance. What I have are memories that will last a lifetime.”

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