Two Sides, the behind-the scenes documentary of the 2021 British & Irish Lions Tour of South Africa, has attracted rave reviews from critics and rugby fans around the world.
Exploring what transpired in both the Springbok and Lions camps during last year’s Tour, the fly-on-the-wall documentary was broadcast on ITV in three hour-long episodes.
And the reception to Two Sides has been overwhelmingly positive with in excess of 2m people viewing it so far.
Writing in the Scotland Herald, Martin Hannan said: “The documentary about the British & Irish Lions’ tour of South Africa last year is quite simply the best documentary I have ever seen about rugby and indeed all sport – it really is up there with the extraordinary Senna about the life of the Brazilian motor racing legend, and that’s the biggest compliment I can pay.”
He added: “The filming is of the highest quality so that you can really feel the intensity of the hits on the field of play and sense the many tensions off the pitch in both camps.”
Two Sides is the latest in a long and critically acclaimed series of Lions Tour documentaries that includes the mould-breaking ‘Living with Lions’ released 25 years ago.
But unlike previous documentaries, this one stepped away from the traditional format to provide insight into both the Lions and Springbok camps as they dealt with the challenges provided by the hugely challenging backdrop of a global pandemic.
The story of the 2021 Tour
This format change was welcomed by rugby reporter Ben Coles, writing in the Telegraph that Two Sides “serves up another behind-the-scenes tale that packs a punch”.
He writes: “With a tweak to the usual format, focusing as the title suggests on both sides this time, the Lions documentary gets a breath of fresh air.
“There are interviews at the family homes of as many Springboks as Lions players. We see what it means to see a son playing in a Lions series, while features with Stuart Hogg, the parents of Springbok No.8 Jasper Wiese and family of Lions wing Josh Adams are all particularly moving.
“Adams was selected for the tour while his partner, Georgia, was heavily pregnant with their first child, which ends up becoming a compelling narrative across the three episodes.”
Coles concludes: “Given all the off-field turmoil and well-made background segments, this will make for a compelling few hours for non-rugby devotees as much as the fans who chewed their fingernails off last summer.”
As well as illuminating insights into the teams’ preparations and what went on during the matches, Two Sides also gave fans a rare glimpse into the workings of a unique sporting event.
Writing for Wales Online, Ben James said: “If the original documentary was borne out of the amateur era, with what followed simply trying to recapture that magic, then this one certainly feels like the first properly tailored for the professional era.
“There’s no clips of kangaroo courts or raucous drinking sessions. Instead, there’s moments of genuine intensity and high stakes mixed with family features that only serve to illuminate the sacrifices it takes to be on a Lions tour.”
Former players also took to Twitter to hail the documentary series, with Stephen Ferris – a tourist when the Lions previously visited South Africa in 2009 – singing its praises.
Sacrifices. Great watch this https://t.co/En6kG3kbds
— Stephen Ferris (@StephenFerris6) June 21, 2022
Fans were also fulsome in their praise of the documentary, which is now available on the ITV Hub.
What a great documentary #TwoSides was. So nice to get behind the scenes.
Wales touring SA next so maybe just maybe they’ll be something from that?
Great way to get eyes onto rugby too.
— Carrick Blake (@analysisguy0502) June 21, 2022
Watched Ep1 of the “Two Sides” @lionsofficial documentary… blydi hell, it’s exceptional! Love the two teams insight. Vintage living with the lions, but with the drama of covid-19. Incredible. #TwoSides #Lions
— garbate (@garbate) June 21, 2022
This is incredible. 😮
The best Lions doc ever so far. 🦁
Getting Chasing the Sun feels off it. 🇿🇦
Let SuperSport make every rugby documentary from now on!#TwoSides
— RugbyLAD (@RugbyLAD7) June 19, 2022
This Lions documentary is CLASS #TwoSides
— Anna Hutchinson (@annahutch7) June 21, 2022
#twosides what a brilliant documentary. So nice to have the opposition point of view, not just the Lions! Wales have a hell of a task next month! #walesrugby
— Owain Jones (@dowainjones) June 24, 2022
Watching #TwoSides the official Lions tour of South Africa 2021. Really interested background to the training and coaching. #Rugby
— Mr Tweed (@MinistryofTweed) June 22, 2022
Find me a better rugby documentary ever than #twosides – telling player back stories was inspired – #jasperwiese parents talking about their daughter was raw, emotional & gut wrenching; everyone can now see what the #bokke mean to #RSA & its people…astoundingly good 👏👏
— neilbaskerville (@baskers_ct) June 23, 2022