Live Streaming of Lions vs South Africa First Test on Sky Sports in UK & Ireland with Rugby VPN
A British and Irish Lions tour is a special thing. Taking place just once every four years, it’s a rare opportunity for England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales to put aside their differences, pause their rivalries and come together with the aim of taking on one of the Southern Hemisphere’s Big 3, it’s time for the Lions vs South Africa.
🏉 British & Irish Lions vs South Africa (1st Test)
Saturday 24 July 2021
1700 UK Kick-Off
Sky Sports Live Streaming
It’s a tradition that is now over 130 years old and indeed this year marks the 130th anniversary of the Lions first tour of South Africa, a successful tour where the Lions swept the Test series 3-0. These were the first official test matches played on tour by the lines and the benchmark for future tests was set nice and early.
This year marks the 14th Lions tour to South Africa, and the 38th tour in total. Despite not touring in South Africa between 1980 and 1997 in protest of the Apartheid regime of the ruling National Party, South Africa is the country most frequently toured by the Lions but it hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for them.
After winning that first test series in 1891, the visited again in 1896 and won that series 3-1. They would not win another test series until 1974 when Willie John McBride captained them to three wins and a draw in the four test matches played that year. They had managed a draw in 1955 but lost the other six tours undertaken to the Rainbow Nation between 1896 and 1974. A 3-1 test defeat in 1980, a controversial tour given the political climate of the time was the last time they would visit the African nation for 17 years before the historic 1997 tour.
Captained by the colossus that is Martin Johnson, the Lions were not expected to triumph against the then World Champions who had defeated all comers to win the Webb Ellis Cup only two years early as Rugby, and the world as a whole, welcomed South Africa back in the fore. Matt Dawson’s brilliant try and the boot of Neil Jenkins were the key scorers in the first test when the Lions shocked the Springboks 25-16 by dominating them in both the scrummages and at the breakdowns. Paul Wallace, a late call-up to replace the injured Peter Clohessy, dominated the great Os Du Randt in the key front row battle and gave the Lions momentum to run off the back of a solid scrum and utilize their pace and inventiveness in the backline.
The second test was a tighter affair but the Lions front row of Wallace, Keith Wood and Tom Smith again dominated their South African counterparts and despite the Springboks scoring three tries, they failed to convert any. Neil Jenkins boot was once again key, as the Welsh fullback kicked five penalties before a magnificent drop goal by Jeremy Guscott clinched the 18-15 win and the series for the lines.
With the third test now arbitrary, both sides made changes but the Springboks dominated the Lions throughout the game as their reinforcements proved more impactful than those brought in by Lions Head Coach Ian McGeechan. The Lions fell to a 35-16 defeat but with the test series already won they weren’t overly bothered. The tour had been a roaring success.
The Lions next visit to South Africa was in 2009, and once again they found recently crowned World Champions waiting for them. The Springboks had won their second World Cup in 2007, defeating England in the final and were a formidable side. The Springboks would win the series 2-1. The Boks won the first two tests, though the second test was marred in controversy after Schalk Burger escaped a deserved red card in the first minute of the game for gouging the eye of Luke Fitzgerald. Burger would be suspended for third test, and the Lions would rescue some pride from the series with an impressive performance in a game that had threatened to be bad tempered in the days leading up to it but turned out to be the most sporting contest of the three.
And so we find ourselves in 2021, with the Lions back in South Africa to once again face the World Champion Springboks. South Africa’s third World Cup, won in 2019, once again marked them as the best team in the world and with 29 of the 33 who took part in that 2019 squad selected once again to take on the Lions it’s fair to say that big tests await. As an aside, it might be wise to back the Springboks to win the World Cup in 2031 as they have won every World Cup they have contested immediately before a Lions tour.
With the first test taking place on Saturday, the Lions have received a massive boost with the availability of captain Alun Wyn Jones who was expected to miss the tour after sustaining a shoulder injury in a pre-tour warm-up match against Japan. Warren Gatland has selected a strong team, though there is some controversy over his decision to pick Ali Price over Conor Murray at scrum-half. It’s not that Price isn’t deserving of his place, he absolutely is, but Murray was chosen as captain when Wyn Jones was initially ruled out of the tour. To lose not just the captaincy, but also his starting place, is a huge blow for Murray and one that may be difficult for the Munster man to overcome.
This Springboks team ,might not be packed with household names like previous South African teams, as Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber have fostered a cultural of team over individual, but nobody should doubt the individual quality of some of it’s players. Lock Pieter-Steph du Toit was voted World Player of the Year in 2019, with winger Cheslin Kolbe also nominated for the award. Scrum-half Faf de Klerk and hooker Malcolm Marx were both nominated for the same award in 2018. This South African team knows they their brilliance lies in their strength as a team but they are also capable of winning individual battles and are comfortable allowing moments of brilliance to see them across the line when required.
For the Lions to overcome the Springboks they will need to be close to flawless in the set-pieces and at the breakdown. They can’t allow the South African pack to get the upperhand early or else they will find themselves in for a very long, gruelling and punishing afternoon in the Cape Town. If the Lions can get the ball out quickly and keep it moving quickly through the hands while being dynamic and purposeful at the breakdowns, they have a real chance to upset the reigning World Champions just like the did 26 years ago.
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