Wallabies vs Lions will be a special encounter
It’s a year and a day to the kick off between the Wallabies and the British and Irish Lions at Suncorp in the first of three Tests.
The last time these two teams met in 2001 was an historic series for the men-in-gold coached by Rod Macqueen, and skippered by John Eales, to win 2-1 for the first and only time.
That was indeed a golden era of Wallaby rugby, with those two giants of the game at the helm, capturing the Rugby World Cup in 1999, the Bledisloe Cup from 1998 to 2001, the Tri-Nations in 2000 and 2001, with the icing on the cake, conquering the Lions.
The current Wallabies won’t be taking on the Lions in 366 days time with that same illustrious track record.
But the Lions won’t be boasting impressive form, either, judging by Wales, England, and Ireland losing all six internationals to the Wallabies, Boks, and All Blacks respectively in the last fortnight.
But that only adds to the aura.
The British and Irish Lions teams have an aura of their own, and the mere fact they only tour Australia every 12 years puts them in a very special category as a combined side from England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
It doesn’t happen in any other international sport.
To make it even more special, the Lions attract fanatical support from the Home Unions, expect a sea of red from them numbering in the many thousands.
Their colour clash with the gold-decked Wallaby supporters will be a spectacular sight, and important side issue.
It’s amazing how Lions officianardos have viewed Australian rugby.
Over the years, the Lions only played the Wallabies as the “warm-up” for the “real internationals” against the All Blacks, believing the Wallabies weren’t strong enough to tour alone.
That was the case in the Lions tours of 1904, 1930, 1950, 1959, and 1966 where in total the Wallabies met the tourists 10 times for just one win.
On the same tours, the All Blacks played 17 and won 14 with a draw.
Which rather proved the point, the Wallabies weren’t strong enough.
That thinking changed in 1989 and the Wallabies immediately proved their worth by comfortably winning the first Test at the SFS by 30-12. The Lions squared the series at Ballymore with a hard-fought 19-12 win, and took the series 2-1 with a nail-biting 19-18 win at the SFS.
That was the “infamous” Test where crack Wallaby winger David Campese was unfairly pilloried for passing on his goal-line, the ball was dropped by full-back Greg Martin, Lions winger Ieuan Evans swooped and scored.
If there was an offender, it wasn’t Campese, but Martin for not being alert. Had he been so, and quick enough, he had an empty field in front of him and could have gone all the way.
The point is, the pass should have been held.
So instead of winning an exciting first exclusive Lions tour of Australia, the Wallabies were pipped at the post.
Macqueen and Eales made sure that didn’t repeat 12 years later, losing the first Test at the Gabba 29-13, but bouncing back to comprehensively win the second at Colonial in Melbourne 35-14, and clinching the series 29-23 at Stadium Australia.
Euphoric days. A dose of the same next year would do wonders for Wallaby rugby and their frustrated fans.
It will be all yours to lock away, Robbie Deans and David Pocock.
Watch the full match replay between the Wallabies and British and Irish Lions from 2001
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