DFP – Header Code

On This Day: Robinson roars and O’Driscoll waltzes for 2001 Lions

On This Day: Robinson roars and O’Driscoll waltzes for 2001 Lions

Under the stewardship of New Zealander Graham Henry, the first person from outside the home nations to coach the famous tourists, The 2001 British & Irish Lions made the perfect start to their Test series against Australia.

"We had to warm up underneath the stadium so we didn’t go outside, we didn’t know what was going on.”

Under the stewardship of New Zealander Graham Henry, the first person from outside the home nations to coach the famous tourists, The 2001 British & Irish Lions made the perfect start to their Test series against Australia.

Henry, who had led Wales to ten consecutive victories in 1999, selected England and Leicester Tigers second row Martin Johnson to lead The British & Irish Lions for an historic second time.

And after an 18-try 116-10 record victory over an amateur Western Australia side was followed by comfortable victories over Queensland Presidents XV, Queensland Reds, New South Wales Waratahs and New South Wales Country, attention turned to the first Test.

A Lions Legend hands out the jerseys

The Kiwi’s first moment of magic ahead of the clash at the Gabba came with the decision to allow Lions legend Willie John McBride to distribute the coveted jerseys to the starting XV.

“It was a masterstroke – Henry told us that there was someone special to hand out the jerseys but nobody knew who it was,” said Rob Howley, the Lions scrum-half who become part of Warren Gatland’s coaching set-up in 2013.

“We sat around waiting, preparing and then in came Willie John McBride, a man I recognised as arguably the greatest Lion of them all.

“I will never forget seeing grown men like Martin Johnson reduced to tears. It made us understand the enormity of what was in front of us.”

""

Johnson won the toss for the kick-off at the Gabba in the first Test and joked to the referee he wanted to bat but it was a sea of red in the stands that really stoked the fires.

More than 20,000 Lions fans had travelled Down Under in support of their British and Irish rugby heroes and an estimated 15,000 were inside the stadium.

A sea of red

“The atmosphere and the fans were fantastic. They were unbelievable,” said Neil Back in Behind the Lions.

“When we walked into that stadium before the first Test in 2001 you knew, if you didn’t know already, what the Lions was all about. That was one of the highlights. It was a sea of red.

“The hairs on the back of your neck and all over your body were standing on end and you knew it was something special. I think that’s why that performance on that day was as it was.”

And the Lions got a lightning start as England’s Jason Robinson crossed the whitewash to give the tourists the lead inside the first three minutes.

""

And what a score it was from Robinson – who had only switched codes from league a year earlier – as he left Wallaby full-back Chris Latham grasping at thin air on his way to the left corner.

“That first Test at the Gabba, I didn’t know quite what to expect but we had to warm up underneath the stadium so we didn’t go outside, we didn’t know what was going on,” remembered Robinson.

“But we knew there was an amazing atmosphere and when we started coming up the stairs there was a roar, people cheering ‘Lions, Lions’ and when you got closer to the top the noise was deafening.

“We were so pumped up and inside three minutes the ball has come down the line to me, I managed to get round and outside Chris Latham for the score.

“And that put us on a great footing for the game – we won that Test and is was a great experience and a very proud moment for me.”

O'Driscoll's moment of magic

The tourists then sent Brian O’Driscoll down the blindside of a scrum to expose Aussie flanker Owen Finegan and the Irishman broke free before releasing Robinson who put Dafydd James clear. The Wales wing had the Lions’ second try and gave the Lions a 12-3 lead at the break.

""

Scott Quinnell added a third after the break before a spectacular solo effort from O’Driscoll saw him charge through the Aussie defensive line prompting chants of ‘Waltzing O’Driscoll’.

“The best moment of the tour was the feeling after we had won the first Test,” Brian O’Driscoll said in Behind the Lions.

“Hearing that final whistle and knowing that we had just beaten the world champions was just sensational.”
The first Test ended with a resounding 29-13 victory for the Lions in one of their most complete performances.
 
30 JUNE 2001
AUSTRALIA (3) 13, BRITISH & IRISH LIONS (12) 29 (Wooloongabba)

 
Australia: Chris Latham; Andrew Walker(T/P), Dan Herbert, Nathan Grey(T), Joe Roff; Stephen Larkham, George Gregan; Nick Stiles, Jeremy Paul, Glenn Panoho; David Giffin, John Eales (capt); Owen Finegan, George Smith, Toutai Kefu.
Bench: Matt Burke, Michael Foley, Elton Flatley, Ben Darwin, Matt Cockbain, David Lyons, Chris Whitaker,
Replacements used: Burke for Latham 40, Flatley for Larkham 56, Foley for Paul 56, Darwin for Panoho 69, Cockbain for Eales 73, Lyons for Finegan 80.
 
British & Irish Lions: Matt Perry; Dafydd James(T), Brian O'Driscoll(T), Rob Henderson, Jason Robinson(T); Jonny Wilkinson(3C/P), Rob Howley; Tom Smith, Keith Wood, Phil Vickery (sin bin 85); Martin Johnson (capt), Danny Grewcock; Martin Corry (sin bin 75), Richard Hill, Scott Quinnell(T).
Bench: Iain Balshaw, Colin Charvis, Gordon Bulloch, Jason Leonard, Martyn Williams, Matt Dawson, Austin Healey,
Replacements used: Balshaw for Perry 40, Charvis for Quinnell 71, Bulloch for Wood 75, Wood for Bulloch 82, Leonard for Smith 83.
 
Scoring sequence: 2' Robinson J.T. (T) 0-5, 21' Walker A.M. (P) 3-5, 39' James D.R. (T) 3-10, Wilkinson J.P. (C) 3-12, 42' O'Driscoll B.G. (T) 3-17, Wilkinson J.P. (C) 3-19, 47' Wilkinson J.P. (P) 3-22, 52' Quinnell L.S. (T) 3-27, Wilkinson J.P. (C) 3-29, 76' Walker A.M. (T) 8-29, 79' Grey N.P. (T) 13-29.
 
Referee: Andre Watson (South Africa).
Attendance: 37460.
 

DFP – Right Hand Side MPU

DFP – Half Page

Partners & Suppliers

    Principal Partners

    Sponsors