The Ulster Rugby Supporters Club are delighted to announce a “Night of The Lions” next Wednesday 16th April at the Stormont Hotel, Upper Newtonards Road, Belfast
The night is being held to mark the 40th Anniversary of “The Invincibles” 1974 British & Irish Lions unbeaten tour of South Africa, featuring the infamous “99 call”!
The tour was a great success, the Lions winning 21 of their 22 matches and drawing the other. After winning the first three test matches, the Lions drew the final test when the South African referee blew the final whistle four minutes early with the Lions two metres from the South African try line, thus preserving their unbeaten record, but denying them a tour whitewash.
The test series was beset by violence. The management of the Lions unilaterally declared that in their opinion the Springboks dominated their opponents with physical aggression because of their famous size advantage, ‘off the ball’ and ‘blind side’ play.
In the build up games, and in [captain Willie John]McBride’s previous tours of South Africa, provincial sides had tended to use their physical size, late tackling and dirty play to deliberately intimidate and injure Lions players prior to Test matches.
McBride again saw this tactic of targeting certain players being used by the provinces in ’74, and decided that the ’99 call’ (originally the ‘999 call’ but it was too slow to shout out) was meant to show that the Lions were a team and would not take any more of the violence being meted out to them.
It was a harsh response to what the team were facing, but intended to show that the Lions would act as one and fight unsporting behaviour with more of the same. The idea was that the referee would be unlikely to send off all of the Lions if they all attacked. At the ‘Battle of Boet Erasmus Stadium’, in Port Elizabeth, one of the most violent matches in rugby history, there is famous video footage of JPR Williams running over half of the pitch and launching himself at Moaner van Heerden after such a call.
Although an extreme response, the 99 call was only used once (according to McBride), as it sent out the message that the Lions were willing and more than able to respond in kind and protect themselves.
This is your chance to come along to meet and hear the incomparable Lions skipper Willie John McBride, the blindside enforcer and back of the bus singer Stewart McKinney and the classy, playing in all 4 tests, centre Dick Milliken, reflect on the most successful Lions tour …ever!
Night of the Lions: 7:30pm on Wednesday 16th April at the Stormont Hotel.
Tickets are £10 each and they can be purchased for the last time before next Wednesday’s event at the URSC information desk at Friday night’s game against Connacht
All proceeds to the Wooden Spoon Charity.