The British and Irish Lions is an international team selected from the four home unions, Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland. South Africa’s first internationals were played against the 1891 British Lions.

The tourists, the first side on an officially sanctioned overseas tour, consisted of 16 Englishmen and four Scotsman, including the captain Bill Maclagan, and few players capped by their countries.

As the tour was under the auspices of the English RFU, the visitors were regarded as an English touring side by the press, spectators and British supporters.

They played three matches against an ‘SA Representative’ side selected by a committee from the home union who mostly provided he captain and some favourite is not outstanding players..

The local sides were part of the South African Rugby Football Board that was formed in 1889 in a time when there politically was no country South Africa.

The three matches against the SA representative sides, all won by yhr Britons, were later ratified as tests and the tourists were capped as British Lions.

The local players in the three matches thereby also became full internationals and are today called Springboks. The first British and Irish team to tour South Africa went through unbeaten.

The Lions scored 294 points and conceded only one (a try in their very first game) in 20-matches.

South Africa also lost the second series in 1896 (4-0) and again lost the series in 1903, but won their first test under captain Fairy Heatlie, playing in green jerseys at Newlands.

South Africa’s very first series win came in 1910.

The Springboks also won the next two series in 1924 and 1938. The Lions, always playing in a combination of red, white and blue, wore blue jerseys in 1938 before playing in red since then on all heir tours.

In the first post-war series in 1955 the Springboks had to win the fourth test to draw series, then had two convincing series wins in 1962 and 1968.

The Springboks were then annihilated with a loss, two record defeats and a controversial lucky draw in the fourth test in the 1974 series.

They bounced back under Morné du Plessis in 1980; and then, after returning from being barred due to the SA Government's politics, lost their next series against the British and Irish Lions in 1997, mainly because of poor kicking against a good Lions team.

It took a last gasp drop from 50 metres by Morné Steyn to win the second test and secure the series in 2009. Overall,

South Africa has won 23 of the 46 tests against the British Lions, lost 17 and six were drawn. South Africa has won eight of the 13 series.

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