CHILL-OUT SUNDAY THE ELLIS RUGBY – LAST OF THE BLUE LIONS – THE 1938 BRITISH LIONS TOUR OF SOUTH AFRICA – BOOK PREVIEW
1938 British Lions Tour of South Africa. The Ellis Rugby Book preview. Last of the Blue Lions.
Author – Steve Lewis
Steve Lewis is a famed rugby author. And has written a number of outstanding books. These include Newport Rugby Football Club 1874 – 1950. And 1950-2000. In addition, titles such as The Priceless Gift: 125 Years of Welsh Rugby Captains and Who Let the Dogs Out: Professionalism and the Revival of Newport RFC. Also the books Ken Jones: Boots & Spikes, All Black and Amber 1963, and a Game of Rugby: When Newport Beat New Zealand. Finally, One Among Equals: England’s International Rugby Captains.
Here’s the Book Preview – Last of the Blue Lions: The 1938 British Lions Tour of South Africa
In 1938 the British Lions visited South Africa. To take on the team generally recognised as the best in the world. And led by legendary scrum-half Danie Craven for the three-match series. The task awaiting the Lions was huge. And to their eternal credit, they recovered after losing the first two Tests. To secure victory in the third, a match recognised at the time as the finest played in South Africa. Seventy years may have passed. But the names of Craven, Gerry Brand, Fred Turner, and Flappie Lochner. Plus, Tony Harris, the brothers ‘Boy’ and ‘Fanie’ Louw. Also, Ferdie Bergh and Jan Lotz. All are still revered in South African rugby circles.
1938 British Lions Tour Heroes
And the Lions? Under strength due to the absence of several leading players. Who was unable to afford the luxury of six months of overseas travel. But, the party still included players of the calibre of Vivian Jenkins, Charles Grieve, Bill Clement and Harry McKibbin. Both were destined for high office with their respective unions. Haydn Tanner, Bunner Travers, George Dancer, Bob Alexander and the enigma that was Blair Mayne. Mayne won four DSOs, the Croix de Guerre and the Legion d’ honneur in the Second World War which followed the tour.
Memorable as events on the playing field may have been the 1938 tourists. Saw much which helps make their story one of the most interesting in the long history of Lions’ rugby. The extended journeys by sea and the thousands of miles by train. Which took the visitors the length and breadth of the country make touring in the twenty-first century seem nothing more than a brief interlude. All subsequent tours to South Africa would involve the aeroplane.
1938 British Lions Tour – The Last Time a Blue Lions Jersey was worn
Then there was the social side of touring. The receptions, parties, official dinners and much else besides. The 1938 tourists laid witness to much more than their counterparts. In the era of a professional sport can ever expect. Theirs was more an adventure than a sporting extravaganza. In which success or failure is determined solely by the winning or losing of a Test series. The book is called ‘Last of the Blue Lions’ because on the next tour – in 1948. The Lions switched from blue jerseys to the famous red they still wear.