Lions History

Historical Events

1924: South Africa

by David Walmsley - Genesis Publications | May 15, 2013 | May 16, 2013
1924 was the year the Lions nickname began to stick. Although the Lion had been used since the earliest of tours to represent the tourists in cartoons and the like, it was only in 1924 that the title slipped into common usage as the South African press looked for a pithier alternative to their new official title of the British Isles Rugby Union Team.

1924 was the year the Lions nickname began to stick. Although the Lion had been used since the earliest of tours to represent the tourists in cartoons and the like, it was only in 1924 that the title slipped into common usage as the South African press looked for a pithier alternative to their new official title of the British Isles Rugby Union Team.

They may have been Lions, but the team captained by Ronald Cove-Smith failed to roar: they returned the worst figures in Lions history, winning just nine of their 21 matches, losing the Test series 3-0 (with one draw) and averaging just eight points a match.

Contributing to that was a massive injury toll that reduced them to fielding eight backs and seven forwards in one match and saw forwards Tom Voyce and ‘Jammy’ Clinch appear regularly in the three-quarters.

But the Lions also suffered from the lack of a goalkicker, a failing that cost them the third Test, drawn 3-3 when full-back Dan Drysdale missed a sitter of a penalty kick.

They also had the misfortune of running into Bennie Osler just as the South African stand-off was beginning a decade of domination with his boot behind a giant Springbok pack.

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

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