Lions History

Historical Events

1910: South Africa

by David Walmsley - Genesis Publications | May 15, 2013 | May 16, 2013
The 1910 Lions tour was all about one man, the genius ‘Cherry’ Pillman, and his revolutionary approach to wing forward play. But it almost never reached its conclusion as manager William Cail led his team out on strike in protest against the tough itinerary they faced two thirds of the way through.

The 1910 Lions tour was all about one man, the genius ‘Cherry’ Pillman, and his revolutionary approach to wing forward play.

But it almost never reached its conclusion as manager William Cail led his team out on strike in protest against the tough itinerary they faced two thirds of the way through.

The dispute was resolved but one of the matches became unofficial as Cail insisted the gate money be donated to charity and sent his players out in a mish-mash of their own club and international jerseys.

Had the tour been abandoned there and then, South Africa would have been denied a glimpse of Pillman in Test match action as he had been out injured for the Lions’ defeat in the opening international.

Although he generally popped up in every position on the field during a match, Pillman pioneered the modern openside flanker’s role by tearing after the stand-off as soon as the heel had emerged from the opposition side of the scrum. “Take all risks” was the motto he jotted on his detailed tactical notes made during the tour.

In the second Test, playing “disguised as a half-back”, the Blackheath forward showed all his brilliance to kick a conversion and create the Lions’ two tries as they squared the series

In the decider, however, Pillman had to switch to full-back for the majority of the match after the loss of Stanley Williams, “the Newport Bulldog”. With him on the margins, the Lions lost 25-3, although they took out their frustrations on Springbok wing so violently that a couple of them “were personally warned by the referee”…

Adapted from the forthcoming book The Lions: The Complete History of the British and Irish Rugby Union Team


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