Lions History

Historical Events

1910: Argentina

by David Walmsley - Genesis Publications | May 15, 2013 | Jul 17, 2013
The RFU has never been seen as a hotbed of radicalism, but in 1910 they saw fit to supervise the assembly of a ‘Combined British’ team to visit Argentina to celebrate the centenary of the country’s revolution.
The RFU has never been seen as a hotbed of radicalism, but in 1910 they saw fit to supervise the assembly of a ‘Combined British’ team to visit Argentina to celebrate the centenary of the country’s revolution.

The side that arrived in Buenos Aires was in reality another Anglo-Scottish selection, captained by England full-back John Raphael, one of the giants of pre-war British sport, and containing four internationals.

Raphael admitted none of the party “had anything but the haziest ideas about the country we were going to visit” and prepared for the unknown with daily training on board ship and by packing supplies of “elastic knee caps” to combat the anticipated hard grounds.

The Lions strolled to victory in all their six games, scoring 215 points to 31 and beating Argentina 28-3 in what the hosts consider the Pumas’ first international.

That victory was harder won than the score suggests as the Argentines’ use of a New Zealand style ‘rover’ – a loose forward playing detached from the pack to pressure the half-backs – restricted the visitors to a 5-3 lead at half-time.

Employing their own rover as a counter after the break did the trick and the Lions added 25 points without reply.

But if Argentina had borrowed one tactic from New Zealand, they had already begun to develop the trademark one of their own. “They shoved very hard in the scrums,” Raphael recounted on his arrival home.

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


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