Inside The Tour – The Lions 1997 – Season 1

About the show

The inside story of The British and Irish Lions on their most famous tour; to South Africa in 1997.

The British and Irish Lions’ tour to South Africa in 1997 has gone down in sporting folklore. With few giving them a chance, a disparate group of characters bonded into a band of brothers to upset the reigning World Champions, inspired by a coaching team seen by many in rugby as the greatest of all time. This is the inside story of that tour; told by those who were there.


Presented by Alastair Eykyn.

Featuring: John Bentley, Neil Jenkins, Matt Dawson, Keith Wood, Susan Greenwood, Will Greenwood, Doddie Weir, James Robson, Fran Cotton, Jill Douglas, Jeremy Guscott, Scott Gibbs, Austin Healey, Duncan Humphries, Fred Rees, Rob Wainwright, Jim Telfer and Sir Ian McGeechan.


Arts & Entertainment (Bronze Winner)

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In this series we’re heading deep into the heart of one of the most famous sporting tours in the

company of those right in the middle of it and talking about the lions in South Africa. 1997 An

epic tour for so many reasons as you’re about to find out. This is a 10 part series you’ll get the

action midweek and on a Saturday just like a Lions tour, so make sure you subscribe and follow

us on social at inside tour pod and be warned there’s plenty of swearing mainly on this first

episode from Austin Healey the lions are back in South Africa in 2021. And I’m sure this will get

us all in the mood. Enjoy


the lion a ferocious predator a roar to shake the savannas lions the Regal played the family unit

the lions the best rugby union players from Great Britain and Ireland This is the story of the

lions on their most famous tour South Africa in 1997.


Oh wow the 97 Lions was um so over this world I mean it was champagne rugby gives me

goosebumps thinking about is a bit emotional as well, but I didn’t really give a shit about the

lions to the backyard of the current world champions.


Still look back at 97 The last three minutes was pretty heavy. It was the greatest tour ever.


Inside the to the inside story told by those who were there became famous series one. The

Lions of 97



Well hope that’s got you fired up for a lion summer. I can’t wait to bring you these pods 10 In

total, back in 1997. I was just starting out in my career. I had a deep love of rugby, but I didn’t

have a full appreciation of everything the lions was about the tradition, the history, the

characters. It just pushed me deeper in love with the sport as a whole and particularly with the

British and Irish lions themselves. The Lions of 97 have gone down in sporting folklore. A squad

of household names may be the greatest coaching team of all time, the thunderous training,

devastating tactics. And yes, even the drinking was hard to beat. I’m only here to set the scene

and then nudge for a few juicy stories. There are plenty of those I’m handing on now to our

amazing lions 97 cast, which includes some of the finest storytellers in sport. I’m at Dawson.

Oh, hello, and I played scrumhalf Keith wood I was the lions hooker.


I knew Jenkins starting fullback I will Greenwood I’m Scott




This is Austin Haley.


My name John Bentley. Hello, I was playing on the wing.


Dudley. The beggar look forward. I’m Rob Wainwright, Scotland.


In the old days, you got a letter from the Home Nations Committee. So we’d like to formally

invite you to tour with the British and Irish lions to South Africa. Tonight seven. Please respond

to this within 48 hours or we will assume you don’t want to go. So what’s that could have been

out before it happens if I’ve been out for two days. I will grab wood


by played in the centre I’ve asked in Haley and this is the story of the 1997 British and Irish

lions. Well, the first time we all knew we were in with a chance of being selected. We were

lions. Well, the first time we all knew we were in with a chance of being selected. We were

invited to the NEC in maybe March 1997. And Fran cotton got up and said the squad will come

from this 60 or 70 people that were there. We’d like you to get to know each other a little bit.

You’ll get a letter on the fifth of April. And if a letter does not arrive, you haven’t been selected.

Please leave it a week and then call me and we can talk about why you haven’t been selected.

So the fifth of April arrives. I’m living in a house with two of the guys that were in the initial

squad, Craig joiner and Willow Greenwood. Craig


was in the initial squad was he could he remember where we lived? But Justin? Little plays just

outside Kirby mokslo I was waiting a prayer for me. Really ours was I wouldn’t say was nailed

on. But it would have been surprised if he wasn’t picked me.


Well, Greenwood hadn’t been picked for England was the standout player in Leicester and had

a brilliant European campaign. He was arguably player of Europe through that campaign


I was in reasonable form is very kind one of those seasons where like cricketers are seeing it

like a football. Golfers see the whole like a bucket. And everything that you try just tends to

come off. In those days you sort of knew that it was allowed to come you didn’t know what day

because who knows what day the post is, but there was a view that there would that would be

the day I had


that postman come I liked it down the stairs in my dressing gowns, so two letters amongst the

bills on the floor, picked mine up, put his inside my dressing gown and then started to cheer.


Well he’s like the Duracell bunny Oh In a, he’s like Donkey from Shrek bouncing up and down

all the time. Computer games to play computer games should go out computer games should

go out computer games should go out, just like always on, always on. And I quite like my sleep.

So I was always probably the last up in the house.


He then woke up and ran down the stairs. This is about quarter past eight. And I can hear him

ruffling around in the letters and he comes into the kitchen with his face down. And I just said

Are you okay? He said, I haven’t got a letter said I cannot believe you haven’t got a letter. You

deserve to go on that tour. That is an outrage.


Yo show lions, lions, lions, lions. It’s like he’s already picking up the song. So he did. And now

remember you got a man, a man, a man a man. And then he suddenly goes, Oh, mate,


I said I made your cup of tea sit down. So he sat down and made him a cup of tea and I just

kept going so I can’t believe I’ve got it for you, mate. You’ve definitely should go. You never

know. People get injured on these tours and people get flown out.


They go was so so so extensively. Shaggy. Because common shaggy in those days from the car

to Kurt. He would Yeah, Uncle Joe is unlikely we’re gonna go anyway. So


and I said, but it says here on the letter that the seven Lester play has been selected. And

we’re having a press conference at Welford road at 11 o’clock today to announce the captain

Martin Johnson. So Jonah is the captain, which is good. I said, Can you give me a lifting? So one,

I have a few pints so that I’m sure the lads won’t mind if you stay and have a few drinks as well,

if you want to get a taxi said, no, no, I’ll give you a lift. And then I’m going to the gym.


The assumption for me was when I’ve made it, so it was almost How arrogant of me to have

even thought I could have made.


I said okay, so we drove into Welford Road in his Mini Metro, but good


for you to see what’s going on. And we’re having a few beers. So you can drive VA to just see

what’s happening. And I thought I had a Mini Metro see 203 MF V. One point out. I thought it’s

really kind of into sort of include me in his time of victory and his time of celebration, what a

great way he is. And just


as we turned into the car, Park Graham Simmons, the sky commentator knocked on the window

and said, Well done, lads, congratulations. And we pulled off a little bit. And I said to Well, is he

taking the pisser a year or what? And well, it was like I think I


said probably always a bit nasty. We just did an interview a couple of weeks earlier for the

European Cup final season as well. So it’s a bit strange, but I pushed it aside. And then it was

What did he say? Was he saying it’s that there’s a load of people taking pictures of me. And



we stopped and as we stopped, the car got surrounded by cameras, congratulations. Well, an

uncapped lion going on the tour. And when he turned around and looked over the car, I had

opened his letter. And he didn’t take it all that well, to be honest.


Ah, so he was waving a lay, you know, it’s just, it’s impossible to stay angry because you sort of

want to be angry. But then actually, what’s the point in wasting anger? Because you’ve just

been given some really cool news.


You know, he did things to me when we live together, which was unacceptable. He made me

watch Friends on a Friday night.


Yeah, nine to 930 channel for the old days when you had to watch things in a linear fashion as

in if you missed it. That was it. A 30 minute programme is actually only 24 minutes. I’m only

asking for 24 minutes at the TV. And


so let’s just pay back. I was immature. I didn’t know any difference. Did I have a swell of pride? I

don’t think I did. And people will listen to that. I think that’s disrespectful, but I’m just being

honest. But I didn’t really give a shit about the lions. I wanted to go I needed to 30k I wanted

stash. And apparently it was the thing to do.


I think the characters they all had maybe different egos different personalities, but it brought

the best out of them. Just seemed to be a really rich tour. I’m Gil Douglas. I am a sports

broadcaster. And I’m also CEO of my name’s Dodi foundation a real mixture of the Joker’s in the

pack. Then the more celebrating players, the superstars, the playboys, it just had such an

incredible blend and I suppose when I think about it, of course, one of the biggest characters

has to be my big mate. Big look forward daddy we’re


well placed quite special and may Allah Allah resort talks about the in place who goes in who

doesn’t who’s in the team who’s not. But when that actual lead comes to the post, and officially

invites you to to is quite an amazing feeler because I think involved with ABS is the pinnacle of

rugby, playing for the Lions. Very special unique and to be part of is to such an honour, and

thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my


time. Since we were in our teens, I knew him through a farming circles. We’re both from

borders for farming families. And Kathy I knew before she met Dodi really so we’ve all been

really good mates from when we were in our teens. He’s been our best man and God bless

each other’s kids all of that. So really good mate. He was always a larger than life character. So

well liked, you know, he was just a force of nature always has been still his people love daddy.

And I mean that unreservedly he is somebody who is very easy to love.


To go into work, because we are peers, from other nations, it was quite daunting. So to team up

with mine, Johnson, and a few years was very special. Preventing nerve racking. And today and

get the whole party together was quite a difficult thing to do. But what very well, the

management workplace special plan cotton, good man. Well,


it’s nice to have Davi to say that and have been up a couple of times up there to the boarders

to see him. Now, it’s nice to think that because as a manager, I didn’t really view it in the

normal sense of the word. I really focused the way I ran it on what did i What would I want as a

player, what was important to me when I was on tour, and I tried to put that in place for the



I think it was quite unique. Always ways, it was the first professional workbook to I don’t think I

have a bearing on the camaraderie, it was still put together like previous tools.


9097 lines is unique, and it’ll never be repeated. Because of course, we here in Britain and

Ireland, we’re in our first year of professional rugby. So we had a unique combination where the

players that played as amateurs, we’re now playing as professionals, and the benefits of that

the we they had a very professional attitude to the match preparation, the way they looked at

themselves. But they also brought with them some of the kind of amateur ethos, if you like,

have that ability to mix with anybody. I always say one of the great skills in life is knowing

when to work and when to play. And that’s, that’s where they had


so for the first time, this God’s gone well with English ball, the six weeks. And when you see the

results came from


if you think 97 It was just a couple of years after the Rugby World Cup had been in South Africa,

which had opened our eyes and the game had turned professional and a lot of my friends were

taking professional contracts for the first time. 97 I was just about to start work with BBC

Scotland as a presenter of rugby special and that was the first time a woman had been even

considered to do such a job. So it was an exciting time for me. But particularly with the lions, I

think there was a real sense of adventure around it.


Frank cotton, I was the manager of the 1997 British and Irish lions. The selection process

started when I went up to Merrifield see Jim and geese, and we sat down together and went

through position by position, what were the attributes we’re looking for, in each position to play

against the box and beat them with another selector from each four countries. And we gave

them that brief. So look, you know, this is what we want from the full backs, back row folds and

so forth. And then they brought in a group of players they thought matched those particular

attributes. So it was a completely different selection process from the, from the national teams,

although I did spend time with each of the national coaches, talking to me about what they

understood the attributes of each of the players that they thought were good enough to go on

the tour. So it was it was a very detailed selection process. We didn’t just follow national

selection saying on that picked him around that picked him is automatically and they had to

meet the criteria of what we were looking for.


I was very privileged and fortunate to be considered initially, John Bentley was playing on the

wing and I To the British and Irish lions in 1997 in South Africa, I’d had a phone call from Frank

cotton. And it wasn’t even on my radar, I’d only just come back to a bunion with Newcastle and

I was sharing my year with Halifax rugby league as well. So four months with Halifax eight

months with Newcastle being full time. And in January of 97, Frank cotton gave me a call and

said bench us from and I knew it was from are we doing instead? It’s a one quick question. Are

you available to toe with the lions in in the summer in South Africa and allied because I said yes

to technically I wasn’t, I was contracted play professional rugby league. He said, Well, with all

due respect, you’re running riot with Newcastle we need to get your run with with England air.

Leave it with me. And now he rang me back about three weeks later and said the news I’m

going to deliver comes as little surprise to either of us, England or torture. And I knew I got

that, you know, I was probably playing for the best of my career. But But I was 30 in England

was about the future moving forward, whereas the land was about there. And then, you know,

in eight, nine months time, so it was remarkable to be even considered. But do


remember founding Halifax Rugby League club to say that we were thinking of picking John and

of course the Rugby League season coincided with the the wine store, and what they’re

releasing. And of course, being a typical bluff northern of the chairman was trying to squeeze

some money out of it so well, not so sure. And you know, how much money we’re talking

about? I said, Well, do you want to tell John that you’ve refused a landing to go on the tour? Oh,

no, I didn’t mean that. I didn’t mean that. So anyway, Ben, tell us was was selected. And you

know how, in fact, we were happy. In the end.


It was difficult at home you see three young children and a little boy, I remember leaving home

on his seventh birthday, Lloyd had a daughter who was five and had another daughter that was

fed and another dodge called Melia was six months old. And you know, to leave them for two

months was a big ask for me. And my wife said to me, you bet show myself that you’d be on

this trip? It was weighing up the options of do I fulfil my duty to play the professional rugby

league at home and other secure income from that? Or do I take the risk and and talk to the

bitch knows lions on a tour that was into the backyard of the Commonwealth champions. You

know, we weren’t given much of a chance either, you know, so hopefully I will complete the

tour. And we might win a test match test series. I think there’s little hope of doing that. So I sat

on it for a couple of years and then just I just said to my wife there are certain things in life that

Monte Carlo plays and this is one of them have to go into trip and she said fine. I’m going and

then I left Oh Tony Underwood we’ve travelled together Tony and I down to energy and Surrey

union really excited but but all bizarrely leaving my family behind for two months is a big ask

for me. We basically tried to become a team in that week, we’re a big


Weybridge study just south of the Thames to the west of London. Welcome to the Oatlands

Park Hotel, the site of a Tudor palace built by Henry the Eighth reputedly for Anne of Cleves it’s

the lions base for the week before their flight to South Africa.



knew the Newcastle boys and all five of us and knew all the Ruby boys. I’d never met Dalio,

Adam Johnson and never met Gus Scott. And I’d asked Tony on the way down about certain

individuals, you know, what’s he like? And what’s he like? He had to give up the room for this

trip. You know, previous tours I’ve been on the road, we haven’t always been the primary focus,

you know, the joviality and joking around and carrying on alarm and perhaps was. So having

made the sacrifice whether it was the financial ones with the with the rugby league contract or

with the family had to give myself the best chance to do and I went to blend, I went just to just

to fill it in the background and what I’ll do.


I’m Scott Gibbs, this is inside the tour with the lions in 1997. I kind of distinctly remember each

his opening salvo about sacrifice and leaving your mobile phones at home for the next 12

weeks. Quite easy for a Welshman because I don’t think any of us had them. At that time. It

was only the privileged English who had their international cell net coverage. But I thought that

was another sharp focus about right, this is what it’s going to take. We have to leave everybody

behind hugs and kisses say your goodbyes and then focus on within with kind of radical

transparency and along the way having some thoughtful disagreement about how we go



everybody spoke to me. Everybody seemed to speak to me and I was a little bit of a neutral,

because the Celts don’t particularly English, do they? Let’s be honest. But then again, I’m a

northern boy. And I don’t particularly English either. So I’m a little bit chippy. But everybody

spoke to me. And yeah, the slides were good as gold, there are only four Irish boys. But the

Welsh in particular, perhaps some of this, they were whining about some of the English boys

about Tim, Rob Baron about Martin Johnson and about Guscott and dill Alia,


no whining at all. No, no, listen, I think the two key elements for you know a great group with a

shared goal or like a common goal is that you have to have personalities. And I’m not a funny

person. You know, I keep my head down, I get on about my business. But I do like to be

surrounded by some of those types of characters. And clearly on this toll, we had several dahdi

be in one and then das be in the other questions.


We had a team meeting. Now remember standing up and I was really honest with everyone

else. Look, I feel really privileged to be here. Amongst these are some amazing rugby players in

the room, of which, you know, I didn’t really qualify at at a sabbatical playing rugby league for

years. And, but I did say to them that nobody gives us a chance. And actually, I’m listening to

people whine in the mouth, you’re whining about each other. And I just said that what to give

ourselves the best possible chance of being successful, you need to put your differences to one

side just for a short period of time, just the two months, that’s all you have to do. Just put them

and try and become a team and blend to give us a chance. And we did


you know, to give credit to John is that he is very vocal. And you cannot help but being caught

up in his own vortex and his own emotion because he’s either high or he’s either low, and he

will tell you exactly how he feels on the field off the field. So those are the slings and arrows of

John’s emotional rollercoaster that you have to embrace. And I spent a bit of time with John off

the field. During that tour. She had a room with him, you know, sat next to you on the bus on

several occasions, and clearly felt that emotion and that’s his passion. That’s that’s his DNA.

And that will always be a significant element to the bonding of the trip.


I felt it was important. You know, we were there to play rugby. You know, we weren’t

particularly there to make friends. But it but it did help that we did. It was perhaps a little bit

bold up and run the risk of people’s turnarounds are they How does he think he is saying that?

It but they didn’t. And we did. We did. We did unite. We remember for being the happy tour.

Alice was amazing. Happiness. Everybody was smiling all the time. Yeah, there were

disappointments. And not everybody’s having a good day and whatever you deal with those

internally. But it was always looking back about it was happy to.


We sat in a big massive Hall and they spoke about the history. And then everyone stood up and

said, Is there any chance we can just try and make our own history rather than talking about

1974? Because there’s quite a few of the lads in here that weren’t actually born then. So why

do we keep going on about it? And can we go and get our free stash because the stash room

was in an equal big room and a stash giveaway. It was just mind boggling. I got left down, got a

lift in jhanas Ford Scorpio for some reason everybody wanted to drive and leave their car at

Weybridge. They had to rent space in people’s cars for stuff that you were nicking out of the

stash room. Have you got any space in your car you have kind of put some stuff there and said

no, no. Become everything sailing blazers, shirts, trousers, number one shoes they’re stealing

chinos, blue shirts, jackets, trainers, boots, men’s if you haven’t got enough kit we musta got

seven full holders of kit it was the biggest stash giveaway in history. This is Austin Healey I will

Greenwood were on the lions tour to South Africa in 1997


so much kit so much is how old he remembers kit he said robbing kit robbing kit of robbing

money oh my god I mean so what’s amazing about names you remember head have added us

but not a bit head about it’s pretty light head early Yes What a name Robin money to Robin

money I mean Robin money the more I think about it I’ve never even associated Robin with

money or literally that’s just come to me I always just for a while was called money that’s

amazing. hadn’t actually thought Robin money. So Robin money is looking after kit room and

protecting it from a man called Austin Healey


I think was the first chance to get multi spot Across all the kits, so you’d have a was it Scottish

providence? I think it was. Yeah. Yeah. I think it was Scottish provident. Yeah. Yeah. I’ve got

they gave us a glass ball. I’ve still got a glass ball paperweight. And then when we got to South

Africa, they gave us a gold bar. Which honestly, I’ve called those. Yeah, lions 97 gold bars. I

kept those everything else. My dad,


that’s a green guts.


Yeah. Everything else my dad sold on Birkenhead market.


I can now tell you exactly where in the loft, because you give away so much kit and quite

rightly so to charities and stuff. But they’re just certain pieces of stash. You remember and I’ve

got a couple of things from 97. And I still use the towel with WG on it it’s just an epic moment.

And those are I still look back at 97 was the greatest tour ever.


I always remember our first meetings we arrived on the Sunday on the Monday morning, Fran,

Jim and gauge addressed us for the first time as a group of lines. And in the corner of the room.

There was a tripod and a camera. And we were being filmed. And there were a couple of guys

in the room with a camera come and I didn’t know they were that was us. Yeah, that was us.

Never met them before. And they’ve not been introduced. Okay,


Ben, tell us. I’m happy to introduce myself now. I’m Duncan Humphries.


I’m a camera man. And I’m Fred race. We made the film living with Alliance,


Fred and I had worked quite a bit together in various on various things. And I knocked on the

door and Fred was doing nothing. And we went to the pub. And I said, Well, why don’t you go



a film about the lions? Yeah, we just thought would be brilliant to be able to make a

documentary about the upcoming lions tour. And that was about four pints in. And in a sort of a

fit of sort of drunken enthusiasm, we decided we would actually pursue it. So the following day,

I think after that session in the pub, got on the phone and phoned up Frank cotton,


I’ve got to say I was extremely nervous about giving it the green light, because you’re never

quite sure how this is going to come out. I remember the meeting meeting them. And they

were very, very nice people. I mean, you don’t have to be with them for 510 minutes to know

you’re dealing with genuine people who were extremely good at their their job. But by the time

I met them, it was a fate to come. They were going to do it all I was interested in to make sure

they didn’t interfere, you know that they blended into the background. And they assured me

that was their approach.


I got talking to them as you do. And as the week progressed, and on the Friday night during the

drinking session, I ended up stopped talking to them, and they didn’t have the camera with

them. And I said Carson, why are you here? What are you doing? And they said, I’ll be one

flower on the wall. You’ll never get it. There’s only a player can get flat on the wall, you’ll never

be able to get flat on the wall. And that’s why


I said, I mean obviously bentos has a slightly rose coloured view of that. Because when we

turned up to do the sheet, we’d already decided that we were going to try give the players

cameras. So we have these three little DV care cameras that we turned up with. So that was

what was on our agenda to get them to try and help. I mean, obviously job was fantastic in that

and sort of leapt into it and grasped it with both hands. And, you know, his enthusiasm for that

shines through in the film. And it’s a really integral part of the film. And it did really, really help

and he was right in so much as that there’s certain things that they could get that you know,

we would never be able to eat because people would start feeling self conscious if you know if

we hang around with every social ball social situations filming them. So yeah, so John definitely.

Yeah, he was he was he was very enthusiastic about that. And yeah, it did a great job


looking back at breakout and a cold sweat thinking about it, but we had a lot of great

personalities on that trip in terms of the players. And that really came through in the video and

I think helped in the making of the film because they the players themselves responded to it


they did indeed. And we’ll have a special edition on that groundbreaking film living with lions

later in the series. So I hope you’ve enjoyed this first episode of the series don’t forget to join

the conversation at inside tour pod particularly if you know of anyone whose name can beat the

lions kit supply


what a name Robin money. Robin, Robin. Robin money


great names for jobs great names full stop peak rugby clubhouse humour. I get that but it is

funny. Send us your suggestions at inside tour pod. on Episode Two. Our amazing lions cast

welcomes another familiar voice. I was a young pup Following the crowd and a little bit sort of

wide eyed and Dizzy about the whole thing, but looking back the first week at the hotel

Oatlands hotel. It really kicked us off before we even got to South Africa. That’s Matt Dawson,

who joins the inside the tour cast for Episode Two, the bonding, arguably the most crucial stage

of the whole adventure. This is a 9419 production for Audi


We’re on to episode two, which does include some swearing just so you’re warned. And as we¬†get on with the pod, we welcome one of the most familiar voices in rugby right at the heart of¬†the 1997 story.


Everywhere we went, it was backs against the wall everywhere. I’m at Dawson and I played¬†scrumhalf on the line store in 1997. I was a young pup to the following the crowd and a little bit¬†sort of wide eyed and Dizzy about the whole thing. But looking back, it was turning into like the¬†greatest rugby trip of all time. We had to sort of hypnotise ourselves into thinking that we were¬†capable of beating the world champions.


Inside the tour, the full story of the British and Irish lions in South Africa, the insane story told by those who were there


Yes, door says joining the cast for the second episode of the series. It’s the bonding episode,¬†and we’re based at the Oatlands hotel in Weybridge. This is the week to set the tone and set¬†the standards the week before the challenge of a lifetime in South Africa. We’ve got a salt¬†courses, flip chart brainstorms. And yes, we’re off to the pub


here are locking No one leaves to this place is empty. I thought this is


here. I mean, it was basically we just tried to create as much havoc as


possible that sort of set the tone.


So how does this disparate group of characters chances bolters legends and lions turn itself¬†into a world beating Band of Brothers? We’re about to find out.


Hello, I’m Joe Divya. The vegan look forward from Scotland was Elijah goblin discards the¬†English, Irish and Welsh all together, and different players see in different ways. So I think the¬†tooling party got the vessel be spot on, enjoy the players, they have a good time. Although¬†very respectful of five of their, what the The goal was an intention, it was important to get the¬†whole squad together, being friends kind of fighting for his job.


Maybe I don’t know. But certainly what came back for 93 in New Zealand was that there were¬†too many clicks. And everyone had a great time, but big division between midweek side and¬†the weekend side. And they sort of were on the clock back more to at nine to say how can we¬†find that environment. So from day one, we were told that it was a very important part of the¬†trip.


I’m Scott Gibbs. So the lions is is is a wonderful experience and a blend of personalities, and¬†quirks and idiosyncrasies that really make create the fabric of a rugby tour inside.


Here. It was professional, but still had that very much the aroma of amateur here we had team¬†building specialists come in, we weren’t allowed to share the room with someone from your¬†own country, you had to sit next to someone that you didn’t know on the bus, all the basics that¬†I still see day in day out when I go to work that you know when you’re in new teams and new¬†environments you need to be able to do to get to understand one another. We were¬†supercharged in that. And I think that helped us enormously.


This is Austin Healey. I think everybody mixed almost instantly where the first two nights were¬†basically drinking. And then there was a bit of teamwork. And by which stage you didn’t really¬†need to work out how to go and pick up a bottle of what a jug of water with a plank of wood¬†because you’d already mixed over a few beers.


There was a fair amount of aloofness and feeling our way and trying to work out the strengths and weaknesses in the characters. In the other teams in the first week, probably in right here.

There was almost a fifth country one has to take into account which was Northampton.


There was a strong Northampton contingent players that maybe would have been quite¬†possibly not on the tour if it wasn’t very McGuigan, who was obviously coach of the tour


because I think Northampton possibly had more players in Ireland and Scotland did on on the tour,


it’s vitally important that there is a contingent of players, not necessarily from the same club,¬†but the types of players that the coach understands and believes will be a certain type of¬†player to play a certain type of game. And because of the way that we were playing at

Northampton loose it was fast it was furious confrontational, but still very skillful. We were super super fit. And geach believe that was going to be the way that the lions were going to be South Africa.


They were a great bunch. But you know, the whole thing was handled so well. With Fran¬†cotton’s sort of great legacy for the tour was was saying New rugby for the first week. It’s all¬†Team building for the first week. And it was a huge success.


One thing you got to recognise in those days was that a wonder plays you think now they didn’t¬†know one of the only played against one other internationals, European club competitions¬†didn’t exist. So we focused on the fact that before we go, we’ve got to try and create as much¬†of a team as we possibly can before we get on the plane.


Oh, this just mentally we’re on the 99 seven big nose language tour of South Africa. One of the¬†huge, huge influences about how that tour was successful was what McGee can tell for and con¬†invited us to do.


Probably the most important thing we did, and probably the most sensible thing. And the manager could have done was to actually ask the players how they wanted to conduct themselves on the tour, how do you want to run the tool? What do you want to be remembered by?


So we were all separated into various groups. Ben Das was obviously leading one group,


rather than give us a code of conduct. Nana tell us what the code of conduct was. They invited

us to decide our own code of conduct, and how we want to be viewed as a group of British

managed lands.


And it was to have clarity about what we should do, what we should do with each other and

how we deal with the disappointments of tours and injuries and selections and so on, to

mitigate any ego, that we were all very neutral in one focus on one goal. And that was

obviously to, to bring on the test series.


And we worked in small working groups, and we presented to the whole tour party. And then

they put together a flashcard. Couple little flashcards that we kept. That was a reminder

throughout the trip.


That’s where we ended up with the lions laws, which were written down on little card.


I mean, good coaches do this all the time. They let you set the rules in the full knowledge that

I mean, good coaches do this all the time. They let you set the rules in the full knowledge that

really they set them. But if the players think that they’ve set them, then they’ll abide by them,

because there’s no argument then. So we had that scenario where gauge was suggest, well,

what do you think? No drinking the night before a game or two nights. What do you think’s

appropriate? Guys, are we think 14 hours is appropriate? Yeah, I think that’s a good idea.

Thanks, gauge. So it was that sort of scenario where we’d set all the team ship rules. And they

were fair, they weren’t ridiculous. You know, if you were playing in the midweek team, you’d

make sure you trained and help the test team as much as possible. But then at the night in the

night, you could go out Thursday, Friday, if you weren’t in the 22 or if you weren’t in the

standbys, you could go out the night before, if you wanted to. But you weren’t to wake anyone

up in the in the test team so that you had to have respect there. And I think everyone abided

by that, you know, there was guys enjoyed the tour. There’s no doubt about that. It was a fun

tour to go on. But it wasn’t draconian. And I think the level of respect that came from frontcourt

and engaging the other coaches Jim Telfer down to the team was paramount in the buy in from



Inside the to the full story of the 97 Lions in South Africa.


It’s a huge challenge. I think it’s one of the greatest rugby challenges to go into the backyard of

South Africa and to compete ran across the Republic. The intensity not only lies on the field, but

also lies in in the crowd and the vociferously nature and the actual rugby passion that they they

lead. So we knew that we’re up against the world champions and you know, some of the

greatest names to ever play the game. Were the opposition.


Scott Gibbs was the very first lion that I met on the trip because I was rooming with him and I

picked up all my kit and knocked on this big enormous probably like eight foot door white panel

door with a brass knob. And I’ve knocked on the door and the door opened.


Well, when I opened the door, then he was my roommate, Matt Dawson. Number nine. I’m like,

Oh, hello.


It was Scott Gibbs wearing nothing other than a really skimpy little towel that he had wrapped

around his waist, and I’ve got unloaded. Did with two kit bags in a suit carrier



might have looked a bit funny because I had a towel around my waist to just come out of the

shower, perspiring. And we had a 10 minute call to be suited and booted for, I believe, team

photo. So Matt’s in a rush.


I’ve said, Hi, Scott. You know, Matt Dawson, nice to meet you. And he said, Hi, Matt, would you

like me to iron your shirt? That was the very first sentence that the non English lions heads

away are in that tour of 1997


then proceeded to Ians pants and shirt. So we were both looking well sharp. As we left the



would you like me to iron your shirt? And he taught me? I know this sounds ridiculous now, but

it didn’t actually he said, Do you want me to iron your shirt but he didn’t have an iron, but he

taught me the trick. Let me


give you a lesson and domesticity. Now honey, shoot up in the shower, get all the creases out

just a bit of a hack


there, put in the shirt on a hanger and put it in the bathroom and turn in the shower on really

hot and steaming the shirt.


But I must say great, great teammate, great tourist.


So it was a very educational trip all round.


That what I remember that trip when we thought we’d go for another training session in

Frankfurt and took us to the pub. The last


day over here in Weybridge before we flew out, we train hard all week. I said right. Okay, boys

down tools. We’re going to the pub. Well, I


think you know, we talked about other personalities. One of the strongest personalities on the

tour was the tour manager, Frank cotton. And then certainly he stepped in my corner. On few

occasions during the ensuing months


went in the local pub, a lot of locals


says no one leaves to this place is empty.


It was right go and enjoy yourself boys. This is just as important as getting flogged on the train

in park.


And normally you see a lot of rugby teams where they all sit in the corner talking to themselves


go out and get to know one another air your views.


But these guys did. They were out talking to the locals having a beer



make friends reacquainted. And that sort of set the tone, create some stories that are going to

bond you for the next nine weeks of your life.


That preparatory period with a knees up at a local pub was just a perfect blend to keep

everybody relaxed.


We filmed the director of Young’s brewery, and they sent down the head brew master to make

sure the beer was in absolutely tip top condition by the time we arrived. So we got the

preparation for the drink, right? Yeah, we did. We didn’t rush home. Yeah, yeah.


That happened in 2001. Where, you know, we’ll try to go through this formula, right, let’s go to

the pub, let’s get past the the details of what we did that got to the pub. And then whilst we

were sat down having a few beers, it was announced when training was going to go on in the

morning. So I will I’m not gonna make a DECA myself. So I’ll stop. Whereas in 97, it was, you

know, 50 boosts that then the next day, there’s a family barbecue.


To me, that’s what summed up the 97 wines. You went to work, a new one to play.


Basically, we just tried to create as much havoc as possible not only in the pub, but I’m not sure

whether it was the same night where there was a was there a wedding in the hotel that night

as well or? So we came back we’re trying to gatecrash the wedding. We didn’t really need to try

too hard because they, you know, they didn’t mind a load of rugby lads coming, Lions just

joining in. Yeah, it was I mean that that’s just never ever going to happen again.


The golden rule, the golden rule about having a drink is the manner in which you’re trained the

following day. You train the following day, that we had a problem with one of the players who

had a bit too much to drink and ended up in a swimming pool. When everybody was in bed.


I only ever had to roll it one player the entire trip. But he was caught skinny dipping in the pool

I only ever had to roll it one player the entire trip. But he was caught skinny dipping in the pool

in Durban.


And he came to me the following mine and it was all a chat and and he came to me and asked

for my advice. What should he do? And I said, Well, God, that’s God, go speak from first go and

apologise and assure and it won’t happen again.


Let it be known. I wanted to see the player early in the morning, but it didn’t actually see him

till after the evening meal. So he was sweating the whole the whole day wondering what I was

going to say too. But that was the only time I had to correct the work with one player.


You know last about making memories and friendships and I still look back at 97 as the

greatest tour ever,


he was a very tall English centre, by the way who jumped in the pool will now close at one in

the morning.


The alcohol one was addressed in a way that we decided there wasn’t going to be a ruling on

alcohol. You basically would if you want to have a drink analogy, but you would be mindful that

upon return to the hotel or even if you were in the hotel, there will be some there in a room

close by, who was also was preparing for the probably the biggest game of their lives. In

perhaps a day or two days time.


I roomed with Paul Wallace for a week in Port Elizabeth, you would think sleep, rest, feed

nutrition recuperation will be able to a week in Port Elizabeth, he didn’t get into bed. You lay on

it, you’d come in at 630 in the morning, lie on his bed on top of the bed. Half an hour, I’d wake

him up, train, come back, lie on his bed for an hour, put his gear on smellies on it goes. Go

again. Copy Paste, repeat turnout, smash the box. If you’re under Saturday TV drank until

Thursday. For the Wednesday team. You drank it on Monday. If you’re on the bench, he didn’t

have a Scooby what to do.


It was just such an amazing environment to bond with people. And yeah, no Truer words said

from gates around the hole, you know, 20 3040 years time you’re going to look at these people

in the room and have something have a connection with this that’s going to last you forever.

And he was absolutely right. But those connections, the strength of those connections came

from just as much off the field as they were on the field.


This is inside the tour with the Lions of 97. And as we traced this remarkable story, there are

two really important gentlemen We need to meet.


It was the highlight snow the highlight of my coaching career in reservoir scenarios that says

assistant and that’s the way it was


so Ian Magee kin and Jim Telfer. You’ll have heard of them. For most in rugby and for many in

sport and business. They set a man management gold standard. geach and Jim, the story would

be nothing without them.


They were different, but they complemented each other perfectly. They were opposite ends. It

was good cop bad cop Gooch was very calm and softly spoken, Jim was very good at actually

transferring that onto the pitch.


I don’t know if Jim Telfer likes me or not, I would say probably not I wouldn’t be his type of

player. I’d say Rob Wainwright would be his type of player,


their command of English language, but the way they can command a room when they speak,

there’s no doubt that they were holding the attention of the squad and in charge. A MIDI went



gates as the head coach of the world with gates a recommend the gym.

gates as the head coach of the world with gates a recommend the gym.


It became something which I think even when you look back on, there was so much we got

right, just naturally, I think, Jim, the direction of what we wanted to do and where we wanted to

go. So naturally came together. I don’t know if you found that, Jim. Yeah, well, we’re this group

of lions and native seven, everyone seemed to go so well, in preparation, when you spent a

year before you went to South Africa to work with all blacks, when against the Springboks. And

so after the 1997 lines, I took a great interest in rugby again, I thought that my face and the

lines was overwhelming after that. And I think that since then, the lions a little bit have won

every series, there’s a new meaning to lions twos, compared to boys before, it certainly was the

highlight of my coaching can be and it changed me completely. I mean, the rugby we played,

the launch phase was outstanding. And a lot of that was, as you said, was true to the

preparation and the philosophy that you had about how you want to be the Springboks. And it

was because of the faith and the way you like to play the game. Maybe the lions benefited, as

much as anybody from the game going professional. Because you say, I was able to go out the

year before the All Blacks were really good, realising what we probably have to do as a group

and what I think what we had to look for, and then we actually looked for the type of player

that we thought could produce that game. We couldn’t select by committee. 93 was a disaster

because there was a committee of about nine and we try to really get the players we wanted to

have and the ones we thought could best really challenge what South Africa were as a region

Becontree Yeah, no, it is I think the coaches and for the Lions are a great array of talent to pick

from. But even in 97, I mean, to be able to choose players who would fit into the way you

wanted to play the game, I think was the first time that I had been in an advantageous position,

but it, it was actually, you know, the ultimate choice comes out the coach and his coaching

team. The great thing about 97 was that the pieces were there, you know, you might be at one

end of the field with the forwards, and I bet the other end with the backs. But I knew exactly all

the messages were the same. All right, they’re delivered slightly differently, all the different

things that have to be done by players. But ultimately, what we were looking at the game we

wanted to play, we both had the same game in our heads, when you start a tour, everybody,

their sole purpose in life is to go and to to be successful. And everybody has that aim and

ambition. So the first week in London, well, very useful one for you get your philosophy across,

and how we want you to play the good teams within teams, as well as your favourite things you

said. And teams within teams, and blush. Absolutely true. Still true. Now, the players got to

know each other, they like each other. And one of the great things I found about the players

before we left London, to go to South Africa to go to Dublin for another week’s preparation.

They were the salesman. And I think that that was one of the talent points about the killer was

they were they wanted to play the way that you asked them to play. They became the

salesman for the brand of rugby, you want it to play


the remarkable in McGuigan and Jim Telfer, who have an episode all to themselves coming later

in this series. So they’re in place alongside tour manager, Fran cotton. Now all they needed was

a captain. Inside



the tour, I met Peter wheel at the rugby writers dinner in I think it was December or early

January. And he said that you ought to look at Martin Johnson said whoever was Captain less at

the time had been injured and Martin had taken over from him. And he said he’s fantastic in the

dressing room. You know, he’s somebody who could do a job for you.


I think probably because he doesn’t get riled very easily. And I don’t mean that in a really fight

vaccines, because obviously he gets riled really easily hit in that sense. But, you know, in big

pressure situations, he doesn’t react to pressure. He sort of goes with it. You know, he could

win the Euro lottery this Friday night, 180 million quid and he shrugged his shoulders, you

know, he wouldn’t be running around his living room table, jumping up and down on the chairs.

Like most people, he’d sort of shrug his shoulders and go, doesn’t really affect my life that

much. I like riding my bike. And that’s the sort of person who yes, is probably the most

pragmatic person I think I’ve ever met in my life


for the cat because the normally you’d say one of the four, four countries, the captain who had

been captain of the country will automatically be kept in the lines, but we didn’t think like that.

And it came about because we recognise that we are yet people like UI and admins, great

player, great lion, being captain of whales, would have been quite an obvious choice. But we

felt in South Africa, it wasn’t the right thing to have a winger as the captain, we wanted

somebody in the heart of the battle way. South Africa, you’ve got to win the physical battle

before we even go anywhere. Talking about what kind of rugby you’re going to play unless you

match them there. They’re just going to walk all over. So we felt it was important. We had

Sunday in the heat of the battle air in the forwards as the captain,


I think it’s good skill was that he wasn’t that sort of Captain that was overly vocal. He said what

needed to be said when it needed to be said. And he had lots of senior voices there that would

do most of the talk in Lawrence a lot of talking rod burner, the leader. You know, Scott

Quenelle, another leader, Jace, Woody, obviously quite a lot of talking. And then he had people

with no power who also like talking like me and John Bentley. He was an amazing Captain bird.

He was a captain that didn’t particularly say a lot, you know, but he was surrounded by people

who did say a lot. You know, you’re Allen Allen techy Keith woods. alerting go Scott’s, you

know, different players on different occasions. But John, what was the final word? And

importantly, everybody always listened. But if you watch the games over and over journals,

leadership qualities were about how he played, you know, you’d follow him anywhere. You

know, he was just a man’s amazing.


And then I thought, who knows Martin Johnson better than anybody else in the world and

thought the only person that can be as his mum. So I found his mum up and asked this the

thought the only person that can be as his mum. So I found his mum up and asked this the

right way. Talk to me about Martin, what do you think of worries best traits? She said, Well, one

thing about Martin is only ever tell you the truth. And from that moment on, I thought, well, you

know, this guy has got to be our captain is an alien. And Jim, were on board with it. So that’s

how he got appointed as captain.


Although he does get angry when he can’t water ski. Okay, expand. Following the 2001 tour.

We went on holiday together again, mainly, but when people say why did you go on holiday

with Martin Johnson? Why are you two good friends because I sort of tell them, I’m really good

at starting fights. And he’s really good at finishing them. So he’s the perfect mate to take on

holidays on the beach, because the last thing is you won’t want to get filled in by some German

holiday maker. But he’s perfect for that. So we went to see our friend Dave located in Canada,

and he’s got a boat on a lake. And I’ve done a lot of water skiing. My dad was a very good

water skier. And I was trying to teach him how to ski and bearing in mind his neck was

completely shattered from the tour, but he wouldn’t give up. And he was really getting on my

nerves. So I said to Lou, I was driving the boat, I said to the telly when I said to him, like we’re

gonna sit you on the dock or dock start you take a couple of coils. When I say go chuck the

coils, and then just hold on, don’t let go and it will pull you straight up. Bearing in mind, he’s

like 19 stone, and we’re trying to pull him out on a little speed boat. So anyway, lucid, right,

he’s not looking so I just flowed the boat, and it pulled him straight out the front of his skis, and

he wouldn’t let go for ages. And all you saw was this thin veil of water going over the top of his

head, where there’s one eyebrow, which looked like he picked up an otter as he was getting

pulled through the water and then eventually let go of the handle it snapped and came shot

through in front of the boat. At start the engine. He said come and get me I was like, Are you

angry said yeah, I’m really angry. I was like, you can fucking swim back then. So yeah, I stayed

away from him for a couple of hours when he got back to the dock.


Well, everybody asked me about behaviour on the tour and I said, Well, I only found out what

was really going on when I read all the autobiographies sometime later. You can tell quite

quickly, I think with the group of people the way they behave the way they mix, whether or not

this was going to be an easy group of people to manage and be part of, really, by the time we

left Weybridge will recognise we are there special group of players. They mix well together.

We’re now pleased and allow that. We knew when we went out we were a team.


The Lions of 97 taught us so much. If you’re in a team, whether sporting or business, let us

know if you employ any of the techniques we’ve heard about in this episode. We’d love to hear

from you at inside tour pod.


I didn’t think there was much chance of as lean successful. But when I got onto that plane on

the Saturday, I knew we were going to be successful. It was still a tall order. It was still a big

the Saturday, I knew we were going to be successful. It was still a tall order. It was still a big

ask. But I knew that during that week, we put ourselves in a position that we were in the shell.


So with the lions law set, team building complete, and the pub exhausted of supplies, it’s time

to hit the training pitch. In episode three,


scroll genius, something entirely different. You’re soaking diesel for the whole thing. You’re

looking for oxygen wherever you could.


This is where the strategy will be set. The master plan to destabilise the Springboks must be

honed on a muddy field in southwest London.


It was like a clash of stags. That’s what it was like.


That’s episode three of inside the tour, which is a 9419 production for Audi