July 23 down the years
Lions close ranks on "dirty" Kiwis
Running repairs for Sean Fitzpatrick who got more than he bargained for against South Africa © Getty Images

Scotland's Jim Telfer led the Lions to their best win of the New Zealand leg of their tour, a hard-fought 8-6 victory over a Canterbury side packed with All Blacks, but there was no post-match diplomacy from tour manager D.J.O'Brien. "Back home we play rugby as a game to enjoy," he said. "Here we find obstruction, stiff arm tackling and other illegal tactics. We're sick of it." Telfer was more succinct. "I'm not going to say today's game was dirty because every game we have played in New Zealand has been dirty." Years later in his autobiography he wrote: "The tour left the deepest, most indelibly etched scars on me, physically and mentally, of my rugby career. I attracted a lot of media attention halfway through the tour when I spoke out against what I believed was seriously dirty play and lost the captaincy."

South Africa lost the second Test against New Zealand in Wellington 13-9 and with it the three-match series after their loss in Dunedin a fortnight earlier. The game was overshadowed by prop Johan le Roux being caught on TV biting Sean Fitzpatrick's ear and then Fitzgerald walking away with blood dripping from the wound. Although missed by the referee, the South Africans, already under fire after incidents in earlier matches, acted swiftly and sent le Roux home and banned him for 20 months. "I warned him before the tour that if he got involved in another incident, he would not play for South Africa again," Louis Luyt, the president of the South African Rugby Football Union, said. And he never did.

The fallout from the unpopular Springbok tour spread to New Zealand's parliament where Brian Tallboys, the foreign minister, was suspended for accusing the Labour opposition of cowardice. His outburst came during a heated debate over whether Robert Muldoon, the prime minister, had privately asked the NZRFU to scrap the tour.

The Lions went 2-0 up in the Test series with Australia, fly-half Percy Bush scoring a try, a dropped goal and a rare goal from a mark in their 17-3 win in Brisbane.

The Lions build-up to the first Test against South Africa received a welcome boost with a 36-13 win against Transvaal at Ellis Park. Tony O'Reilly, the teenaged Irish threequarter, scored a hat trick of tries for the tourists.

The All Blacks won the second Test 11-3 against South Africa in Cape Town to level four-match series. Don Clarke brought up his 100 points for the tour with a dropped goal, a penalty and a conversion in a match where the All Black forwards dominated.

The visiting Springboks were preparing so seriously for their upcoming match with Canterbury (previous winners against South Africa in 1921 and 1956) that only those not involved in the match are permitted to take part in a swan-shoot organised on Lake Ellesmere for the tourists.

© Scrum.com

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