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Win a copy of When Lions Roared – a great rugby read

The British & Irish Lions have won three series since the Seventies, but it’s the boys of 1971-74 who have acquired almost mythical status.

After decades of debilitating defeats for the Lions, Carwyn James’s 1971 squad broke the sequence with a combination of technical mastery and counter-attacking bravado.

The vivacity of the back-line, that had the genius of Gareth Edwards and Barry John at its heart, generally gets the plaudits. But underpinning the 2-1 series triumph (with one Test drawn) was a pack that refused to take a backward step.

Long scrum sessions gave the Lions a clear superiority in that set-piece and shocked New Zealand rugby into remedial action in the years that followed.

New Zealand prop Jazz Muller used to sleep in his kit, such was his love for his country, but after the pounding he and his team-mates took he never played for the All Blacks again.

“Propping against McLauchlan and the rest of them saw the end of my Test career,” he says. “I wish I’d never played against those Lions. We couldn’t handle them in the scrum. They had us stuffed.”

The Lions would replicate the ‘dark arts’ of the lineout in training, with players standing on opponents’ feet or holding them down or elbowing them in the ribs – just as Colin Meads and others liked to do in the Test arena.

“There would be three or four minutes of mayhem and anything went,” says flanker Peter Dixon.

Let off the leash

Coach James was light years ahead of his coaching contemporaries and gave his Lions the freedom to attack from anywhere on the field – a notion unheard of in those distant days.

Fly-half John recalls John Dawes suggesting a counter-attack against Wellington whilst they stood almost beneath their crossbar, waiting to receive the ball from a scrum.

“The ball came out, I did a little dink over the top and Mike (Gibson) was off like a greyhound. The ball stood up and he angled away to the left, gave it to John Bevan and he was under the sticks for his third try. That Wellington match was the making of a lot of us. But most of all, it was the making of Mike Gibson.”

Such tales pepper the pages of When Lions Roared, the brilliant story of the 1971 Lions tour written by Tom English and Peter Burns.

The authors have interviewed many of those involved, with colleagues in New Zealand making valuable contributions, and the result is a marvellously evocative read that nostalgia lovers will wallow in. The 1971 tourists remain the only Lions to have conquered the All Blacks.

You’ll also find a review of the book in the June 2017 issue of Rugby World.

The publishers, Polaris, have kindly provided six copies to give away

To enter: For your chance to win go to the competition website, answer this question – Who was the captain of the 1971 Lions? – and enter your details

Enter by : 31/05/2017

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Promoted By: Rugby World

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