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  • South Africa first started playing against a British team in 1891. Western Province sent an invitation to rugby unions in Britain for a representative team to tour South Africa. The team was seen by some as an English team, while others said it was the British Isles. The team consisted of English and Scottish players and captain Bill MacLagan was from Scotland. It was not until 1910 that the British team had representatives from all four British home unions and then the name, British Isles became official. It was only at the end of the 1938 tour of the British Isles that their captain Sam Walker called his team the Lions. So the British Lions only came to play in South Africa for the first time in 1955 under the name.


  • A member of the 1896 British tour team to South Africa, WJ Carey, created the famous motto of the Barbarians, namely, "Rugby is a game for gentlemen of all classes, but never for a poor sportsman in any class".

  • From 1903 to 1974, the British tour teams to South Africa could not win a single Test series in South Africa against the SA teams or the Springboks.

  • The British touring team of 1924 was nicknamed "Lions" when journalists from Britain and South Africa christened them as such because of the lion emblem affixed to the players' ties. However, it was not until the 1950 tour to Australia and New Zealand that the name officially became British Lions.


  • The 1924 touring team of Dr. Ronald Cove-Smith was thus suffering from injuries and after the team was announced players withdrew for various reasons, so only a few of the original players could join the tour. Two players were so injured in their first game that they could not play on tour again.