Did you know that scrumhalf Alf Larard scored the try and right wing Tom Hepburn kicked the conversion in South Africa’s first ever win against the British & Irish Lions in 1896.
The Lions, who toured South Africa for the first time in 1891, will visit the country in 2021 for the 14th time.
The tourists will play eight matches, including three Test matches against the world champion Springboks, with the opening match at the Cape Town Stadium against the DHL Stormers on the 3rd July.
It will be the first time the Stormers play the Lions and also the first time an international rugby match is played at the Cape Town Stadium.
But here is the kicker, which bodes well for South African rugby supporters.
Not only was Newlands (in Cape Town) the home to South Africa’s first ever Test win against the Lions, Newlands was also host to the most dramatic rugby week on the Lions 1903 tour.
Consider this: The Lions, in 40 matches in South Africa in 1891 and 1896, had never lost. The closest a South African team came to beating the Lions was Western Province’s 0-0 draw at Newlands in 1896. The duck was finally broken in the last of four Tests in 1896, when Larard scored and Hepburn converted for a 5-0 victory.
Fast forward to 1903 and the most magnificent week for local rugby in the Western Cape, which started on the 9th of July and ended on the 13th of July. Three different teams from the Western Cape (WP Country, WP Towns and WP), beat the Lions in one week.
A week ago, we featured the first (and only) South African provincial team to beat the Lions in the professional era, with Casper Steyn scoring 20 points in the 1997 Bulls’ 35-30 win at Loftus Versfeld.
This week we acknowledge those provincial pioneers of 1903.
Western Province and the Stormers will play out of the Cape Town Stadium in 2021 and earlier this week SA Rugby’s National Director and 2019 World Cup-winning coach Rassie Erasmus confirmed that a Green Springboks team will play a Gold Springboks team at Newlands on the 3rd of October.
It will be a final send-off to the grand old lady of South African rugby stadiums, which is a remarkable coincidence because this match will be played on the third and it was also three successive wins against the Lions in the third year of the 1900s.
The Western Cape’s association with rugby has always been wonderful. The Stormers, in 25 years of Super Rugby, averaged the highest home attendance and it is no surprise that the two matches at the Cape Town Stadium for next year’s Lions tour, will be sold out.
The 2021 British & Irish Lions Ticket Ballot closed at midnight on the 16h September, with the three-Test series against the Springboks and the three Saturday matches against the Super Rugby teams (Stormers, Sharks and Bulls) also a sell-out.
- First ever Springbok team to beat the British & Irish Lions, at Newlands, on the 5th September in 1896.
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|6||Broekie van Broekhuizen|
|7||Paul de Waal|
- First ever South African non-international team to beat the British & Irish Lions: WP Country at Newlands on 9th of July 1903 won 13-7.
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- WP Towns beat the British & Irish Lions 12-3 two days later at Newlands.
|Western Province Towns|
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|7||J du Plessis|
- Western Province beat the British & Irish Lions 8-4 at Newlands on the 13th July to complete the most remarkable week in Newlands rugby history. Western Province would play the Lions again on the tour, in the second last match, which ended in a 3-all draw. The Springboks’ 8-0 victory in the final tour match at Newlands meant that the visitors played five times at Newlands and never won in 1903.
|15||Willie van Renen|