3rd British Lions vs All Blacks test 1971 versus 2017

Can British Lions Rugby History Repeat Itself?

On 31st July 1971, players selected by British Lions coach Carwyn James ran onto the pitch at Athletic Park in Wellington, New Zealand with the chance to create rugby history.  Never before had a Lions side won a series in New Zealand.

In the 4-test series, the Lions had won the 1st test in Carisbrook, Dundein 9-3 and then lost 22-12 at Lancaster Park, Christchurch.  Even though there was still one remaining test after Wellington, winning the 3rd test would put the Lions in pole position for a historic series victory.

So how does the British Lions team who face the All Blacks at Eden Park in Auckland in tomorrow’s (8th July 2017) test compare with the 1971 heroes?

Full Back – 15

JPR Williams (Wales) played all 4 tests in 1971 and famously leveled the 4th and final test with a 45 metre drop-goal, the only one of his illustrious career.

An equally uncompromising and unpredictable Welshman wears the 15 jersey tomorrow.  Liam Williams, the Scarlet who joins Saracens next season, produced some rugby brilliance in the 1st test, sidestepping to start one of the best Lions tries ever scored.  He was not our predicted full back (we chose Leigh Halfpenny back in April 2017), and can he reproduce that 1st Test magic, whilst also cutting out simple mistakes?

Wings – 11 & 14

In the 1971 3rd test, the wing berths were occupied by Gerald Davies (Wales) and honorary Welshman David Duckham (England).   Davies started the 3rd test after scoring twice in the 2nd test.  He went on to score the vital only try of the game.  Our April prediction of  George North (Wales) and Stuart Hogg (Scotland) never materialized because of injury and form.  Instead, two Englishmen have claimed the shirts.  Anthony Watson and Elliot Daly will hopefully provide the magic and pace to frighten the All Blacks out wide.

Centres – 12 & 13

Captain John Dawes lined up with Irish legend Mike Gibson for all 4 tests in 1971.  In April, we predicted that Owen Farrell (England) would start the 1st test at 12 with Jonathan Davies (Wales) outside in the 1st test.  We were out by one game, with Gatland selecting them for the 2nd and 3rd Tests.  Jonathan Davies has been in great form and has cut through the All Blacks in each Test.  He just needs support and composure to turn those opportunities into tries.

Fly/Outside Half – 10

People say that Rugby is different today, but Welshman Barry John is still regarded as one of the finest players ever to wear the number 10 shirt.  He played all 4 tests in 1971, kicking 5 penalties, 3 conversions, and 2 drop goals.  Initially we thought Gatland would stick with his statement that Farrell and Sexton would be competing for the same shirt, but in the 2nd test he surprised everyone and selected Sexton at 10.

Scrum Half – 9

The All Blacks faced the best Scrum Half ever to play the game of rugby in 1971.  Gareth Edwards was the ultimate number 9 and gave Barry John the space he needed to excel.  Our ‘Welsh-Rose-Tinted-Glasses’ envisaged Rhys Webb starting the first test, but Connor Murray has made the 9 shirt his own.  Strong and with an excellent box kick, Murray scored the decisive try in the 2nd test.

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Number 8

Welshman Mervyn Davies (Merv-the-swerve) played all 4 Test at number 8 in 1971.  In 2017, Billy Vinopola (England) was the favourite to wear the shirt, but failed to make the tour due to injury.  His place has been taken by the quiet and unassuming Taulupe Faletau (Wales).  He has had an excellent tour and his try in the 2nd Test started the come back.

Back Row – 6 & 7

John Taylor and Peter Dixon had been selected for the 1st two tests in 1971 and would go on to be selected for the 4th Test, but their places were taken by Derek Quinnell (Wales) and Fergus Slattery (Ireland) for the 3rd Test.  Back in April, we thought that tour captain Sam Warburton (Wales) may start the 1st test at 6, but we were out by one game.  His physicality in the 2nd test was one of the reasons for a more competitive forward encounter.  However, we selected the wrong Irishman as his partner in the back row, with the outstanding Sean O’Brien keeping CJ Stander (Ireland) out of the test squad.

Second Row – 4 & 5

For the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Tests in 1971, Lions legend, Willie John McBride (Ireland) packed down with Gordon Brown (Scotland).  Again, our selection prediction for the 1st Test in 2017 was one game out, as veteran Alun Wyn-Jones (Wales) and Maro Itoje (England) pack down for the 2nd time in the engine house.

Props – 1 & 3

The front row was the same for all 4 Tests in 1971, with J F Lynch (Ireland) and Mighty Mouse, Ian McLauchlan (Scotland) propping.  Although there was some consternation that we had predicted the selection of two tightheads for the 1st Test (Dan Cole (England) and Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)), Furlong starts alongside Mako Vunipola (England).  Let’s hope that Vunipola keeps his head and his discipline in the 3rd Test.

Hooker – 2

English great John Pullin was the man in the middle of the scrum in 1971.  Our selection prediction for the 1st Test included Welshman Ken Owens, and he makes the bench.  England second choice, Jamie George, has made the Hooker position his own with some sterling performances on tour.

On the 8th July 2017, the 22 British Lions players selected to play against the All Blacks have the chance to become rugby legends.  There is no doubting the enormity of the occasion.  Some say this is just 22 players against 22.  But then we utter the words ‘All Blacks’.  To win, those selected to wear the red shirt will have to play at the peak of their ability.  They will need to push their bodies to the point of exhaustion.  Only then might the Lions have a chance of winning the final Test and securing the series.

Good luck!  We are all behind you!

Legends Hospitality arrange sports hospitality events in South Wales including pre-match entertainment in Cardiff.  For further information please contact Paul Fielding on:

Phone:  01656 782252 or 07768 418308

By email on: legends@hospitalityandleisure.co.uk

Or via our website

 

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Phil Bennett Speaks at Caldicot RFC

British Lions Stories and Thoughts from Phil Bennett

Our latest rugby hospitality event was with the legendary Llanelli, Wales, Barbarians and British Lions fly-half Phil Bennett at Caldicot RFC in South Wales.Legends_Hospitality-234225

With the British Lions presently touring New Zealand, it was great to hear the thoughts of a player who wore the Lions red jersey in 8 tests on the 1974 and 1977 tours scoring 44 points.  He was also captain of the 1977 tour to New Zealand, which they lost 3-1.

Phil Bennett was a key member of the undefeated 1974 British Lions who toured South Africa.  However, his style of running the ball from any part of the pitch was not to the liking of tour captain, Willie John McBride, who told him to ‘not try any of that Barbarians funny stuff here’.  McBride was referring to the Barbarians vs All Blacks test match in 1973 when Bennett double-side stepped inside his own 22 and starting the move that produced, what many believe, was the greatest try ever scored.

Even though rugby has changed with the advent of professionalism, Phil explained that the ability to succeed as a British Lions squad is down to the bonding of the team as much as the capabilities of individual players.

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It was fascinating to listen to Phil’s stories from a classic rugby era, but also to hear his opinions on the modern day game.  Phil often appears as a rugby pundit on television, radio and in the printed press, and his depth of knowledge and love of the oval-balled game was clear for all to see.  It was a great night for any lover of rugby

Caldicot RFC is based near Chepstow in Monmouthshire and was founded in 1961.  In the 2016-17 season, Caldicot RFC finished tenth in the WRU National League Division 2 East with 36 points.

Legends Hospitality arrange sports hospitality events in South Wales including pre-match entertainment in Cardiff.  For further information please contact Paul Fielding on:

Phone:  01656 782252 or 07768 418308

By email on: legends@hospitalityandleisure.co.uk

Or via our website

British Lions On Show In Championship Finals

Who Will Play In The First Test in New Zealand?

This weekend (27th May 2017) is the culmination of months of grueling and exciting rugby with two title deciders.  In the Guinness Pro 12, Llanelli Scarlets travel to Ireland to face Munster, and in the Aviva Premiership, Wasps take on Exeter Chiefs at Twickenham.  But which of the 8 British Lions starting in those two finals will be in the starting 15 for the first New Zealand test match in Eden Park, Auckland on 24th June 2017?

Aviva Stadium Dublin

Munster vs Llanelli Scarlets

The best of Scotland, Italy, Wales and Ireland face each other at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland.  In Dublin there will be 5 Lions squad players on the pitch, with tourist Ken Owens (Scarlets) still recovering from injury.

Jonathan Davies (Scarlets)

Many people think that Davies was lucky to be selected, but when he’s on form he is difficult to handle.  Since being selected his form has improved, but he will need a big game against Munster to push his claim for a starting spot against the All Blacks on the 24th.

Conor Murray (Munster)

Murray is widely expected to secure the number 9 shirt for the first test.  His abrasive style and experience of beating the All Blacks pushes him ahead of Webb and Laidlaw.  However, he also is just returning from injury and it will be interesting to see how he performs.

Conor Murray

Peter O’Mahony

Munster captain, O’Mahony leads by example and will be a huge force to for the Scarlets back row to contain tomorrow.  The level of competition in the back row might just keep him out of the starting 15, but he could make the bench.

C J Stander (Munster)

Tough and uncompromising.  Stander has been outstanding in recent seasons and Warren Gatland has even talked about him being selected at Number 8.  Although maybe Faletau and Moriarty may have something to say about that.  Excellent chance of being selected for the 1st Test.

Liam Williams (Scarlets)

He can play anywhere across the back 3 and has even taken over the kicking duties at the Scarlets.  Making the first 15 may be just out of his reach, although his versatility might get him a place on the bench.

Wasps vs Exeter Chiefs

In Twickenham, the cream of English rugby will be fighting it out to secure the title.  For Exeter it is almost a dream, whilst Dai Young has managed to bring the magic back to Wasps.  However, only 3 Lions squad members will be on show.

Eliot Daly (Wasps)

Another versatile back 3 player who performed well in the Six Nations.  However, with the level of competition, he may struggle to get into the squad for the 1st test unless his performances on tour are outstanding.

James_Haskell_2011James Haskell (Wasps)

Drafted into the squad following Billy Vunipola’s unfortunate withdrawal.  Just because he is a late call up, doesn’t mean that he can’t secure a spot in the 22 and he will be out to show that he should have been selected from day 1.  However, competition in the back row does suggest he may be resigned to watching from the stands.

Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs)

Quick, powerful and abrasive.  With North highly likely to feature on one wing, is the 2nd berth between Nowell, Daly, Halfpenny and Hogg?  Like Daly, securing a place in the test squad may be down to outperforming his challengers on tour.

Playing in the finals will be an exciting but worrying time for all the players.  The physicality of rugby means that there will be injuries.  We wish all those playing the best of luck and he hope that they are all on that British Lions plane when it leaves the UK for New Zealand.

Legends Hospitality arrange sports hospitality events in South Wales including pre-match entertainment in Cardiff.  For further information please contact Paul Fielding on:

Phone:  01656 782252 or 07768 418308

By email on: legends@hospitalityandleisure.co.uk

Or via our website

 

 

This Years British Lions versus 1971

Who Will Start Against the All Blacks on 24th June?

On Wednesday 19th April 2017, coach Warren Gatland announced the 41-man squad to tour and beat New Zealand in the summer.  There were some surprise inclusions and omissions, but the general consensus is that this is a strong squad.

British Lions 1971

The last British Lions team to win a series in New Zealand was in 1971.  Coached by the legendary Carwyn James and captained by Welshman John Dawes, the Lions won the series 2-1 with the final test in Auckland being drawn.

So how does the present Lions squad compare?  We look at the Lions team who started the First Test against the All Blacks and compare against a predicted team for the 2017 selection:

Full Back – 15

JPR Williams (Wales) started in 1971 as 1 of 6 Welsh players in a formidable back line.  Our prediction for 2017 is the best defensive 15 in the world, another Welshman, Leigh Halfpenny.

Wings – 11 & 14

Another 2 Welshman, Gerald Davies and John Bevan terrorised the All Blacks from out wide.  In 2017, George North (Wales) will be given the task of thundering into the opposition, supported by the speed and slight-of-foot of Stuart Hogg (Scotland).

Centres – 12 & 13

Captain John Dawes lined up with Irish legend Mike Gibson in 1971.  In one of the most hotly contested positions on tour, Own Farrell (England) will start at 12 with Jonathan Davies (Wales) outside.

Fly/Outside Half – 10

One of the best players to grace the rugby field wore the number 10 shirt in 1971.  Welshman Barry John.  But in 2017, it will be an Irishman, Johnny Sexton, who is given the responsibility.

Barry John Johnny Sexton

Scrum Half – 9

Another legend of the game, Gareth Edwards, played scrum half in 1971.  Legend has it that his partnership with Barry John was created in heaven.  Another Welshman will don the number 9 shirt in 2017, Ospreys Rhys Webb.

Number 8

Mervyn Davies (Merv-the-swerve) joined the contingent of Wales players in the team packing down at number 8 in 1971.  In 2017, Billy Vinopola (England) will take on the responsibility to carry the ball across the gain line from the start.

Back Row – 6 & 7

A Welshman, John Taylor, and Englishman, Peter Dixon, teamed up to tame the All Blacks in 1971.  In 2017, the blindside number 6 spot will be taken by CJ Stander (Ireland) with tour captain Sam Warburton (Wales) at 7.  Although could Sam start at 6?

Second Row – 4 & 5

Lions legend, Willie John McBride (Ireland) packed down with W D Thomas of Wales and Llanelli in the engine room.  In probably the most highly contested position on tour, veteran Alun Wyn-Jones (Wales) will join forces with Lions debutante Maro Itoje (England) in a forceful second row.

Props – 1 & 3

The props who made up the 1971 Front Row were J F Lynch (Ireland) and Mighty Mouse, Ian McLauchlan (Scotland).  On this tour there were will be players selected specifically as starters and substitutes and for that reason Dan Cole (England) and Tadhg Furlong (Ireland) get the nod.

Hooker – 2

English great John Pullin was the man in the middle of the scrum in 1971.  When the packs sets the first scrum in New Zealand on 24th June, Welshman Ken Owens will be balanced between his two props.

There is still a lot of rugby to be played before the British Lions face the All Blacks in the First Test and injuries will play a major part in the selection of the team.  The question is whether this Lions side would be good enough to beat the All Blacks on their turf.  Feedback is welcomed!

Legends Hospitality arrange sports hospitality events in South Wales including pre-match entertainment in Cardiff.  For further information please contact Paul Fielding on:

Phone:  01656 782252 or 07768 418308

By email on: legends@hospitalityandleisure.co.uk

Or via our website