The blokish rugby adage "what happens on tour, stays on tour" has always been more honoured in the breach than the observance – ask Mike Tindall – even in the days before mobile-phone cameras and CCTV, as this nostalgia-drenched collection of reports and reminiscences of Lions tours indicates.
Consider this account in a Durban newspaper: "Our rugby guests proceeded to enjoy themselves in approved hooligan fashion by flinging furniture about and smashing nearly everything they could lay their hands on". The equally venerable tradition of kicking and punching lumps out of the opposition on the pitch before greeting them as the best of friends in the bar is obviously approved by the compiler, Stewart McKinney, a Lion himself – the Irish flanker was a member of the greatest Lions squad, the unbeaten party who toured South Africa in 1974.
Yet there are also plenty of insights into the changing nature of the game. Chris Ralston, the chain-smoking England second row, recalls being the only non-Oxbridge player in the Richmond team of the early Seventies, while the Welsh hooker Bobby Windsor, a steelworker, remembers being so skint before the 1974 tour that he had £40 to last him three months.
Most rugby fans will lap up this celebration of one of the sport's most revered institutions.
Published in hardback by Mainstream, £17.99
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