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'They climb into things': Lions mindful of bruising 1974 reaction

By Liam Heagney

Trending on RugbyPass

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Lions assistant Robin McBryde has revealed he has been reading a book about the 1974 tour to South Africa to try and tap into the psyche of the Springboks about what they are like when they are behind in a Test series. The Lions took a 1-0 lead with last weekend’s 22-17 win in Cape Town and they can clinch the three-game series with a repeat victory in this Saturday’s second Test. 

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With a view to getting a handle on what the Springboks might throw at the Lions, forwards coach McBryde let slip he has been reading a book about the series that took place 47 years ago. Willie John McBride’s team went 1-0 up in the battle versus the Springboks and the rematch was at the time labelled the most important game in the history of South Africa.

That scenario has since been recounted in a book called Ja-Nee by Dugald Macdonald, whose one and only Test level cap came in that second Test which resulted in a 28-9 win for the Lions in Pretoria. 

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Asked what the mindset of the current Springboks might be heading into this Saturday’s rematch, McBryde took a trip down memory lane to explain what is likely to be facing the Lions as they seek to clinch a series win. “I’ve read a book, Ja-Nee, which gives you an insight from South African perspective in the 1974 Lions trip,” he said. 

“It’s a book by Dugald Macdonald. They lost the first Test and that was enough insight from a South African point of view for me with regard to what this second Test means to them as a very proud nation. They will be looking to come out all guns blazing so that is what we are expecting and that is what I have been preparing for.

“It’s written by a player who played in the game and he was reflecting on it all those years ago to see how it actually looked, going back looking at some tapes etc. That second Test was given the title of the most important game in South African history. It was really built up and he was looking back, reflecting on it and all the pressure that was on them as players with regard to what it meant to the nation. 

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“It was reflected in all the changes made in the selection. They made numerous changes to the team and it just reflected on some of the things that happened on the field of play. Three Welshmen came out well, Phil Bennett, Gareth Edwards and Mervyn Davies, and they [the Springboks] lost heavily in that second Test. 

“It just gives you a flavour of their mindset, how much it means to them, how much the first Test defeat hurt them. It just gives you an insight into how they must be thinking and feeling at this moment in time and how more determined they are going to be on Saturday in order to make sure that doesn’t happen again. We are going to have to raise our game. As happy as we were with the performance last Saturday there are certain things that we need to improve on again so that we don’t give them any life at the beginning of this game on Saturday. 

“They will go back to that physical nature. It’s what they did in 1974 after losing that first Test. There is a term which means climbing in, they climb into things, get stuck in, and I’m sure that is what they will be looking to do on Saturday, to get stuck into us.”

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'They climb into things': Lions mindful of bruising 1974 reaction

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