Ruck and Maul: Stars of '74 know race will always have a place in South African rugby

The 1974 Lions left Britain midway between two general elections and visited a South Africa in the grip of the disgusting apartheid regime. So politics and sport mingle, inevitably, in two TV films shown this weekend: 'The Invincibles' on Sky, and 'The Lions' Roar' on BBC Wales this evening. Denis Howell, the minority Labour government's sports minister in '74, advised against the tour, calling it "a moral matter"; both Howell and Ted Heath, the Conservative leader, welcomed the victorious tourists home in person. "They used us as pawns and it was pathetic," JJ Williams says. Bernie Habana (Bryan's dad) and the current South Africa coach Peter de Villiers recall segregated stadiums and crowds of caged-off black spectators cheering wildly when the Lions scored against the all-white Springboks. Did the tour undermine apartheid or give it succour? Fast forward to this year and an intriguing irony. A plan for the Boks to play a warm-up match against New Zealand Maori – in Soweto – was abandoned because South African law prohibits teams selected on racial lines.

Lions in high spirits

"We'll have a smile on our face," the tour manager, Gerald Davies, told the Lions' farewell dinner, "and a sliver of ice in our blood." Not being medically minded, Ruck and Maul is unsure whether this has anything to do with the tourists' early-morning stints in an altitude chamber at their Surrey hotel. The instructions pinned to the three-metre long perspex box ordered a treadmill or exercise bike session of "2 x 5 mins progressive, 2 x 2 mins maximum effort, 1 min easy." It also advised: "Mask on at all times – if it is your first time in a mask, take it easy."

Wilko's new post

A terse notice on the Newcastle Falcons website on Wednesday, giving devotees of Toulon-bound Jonny Wilkinson a forwarding address in Hexham for their fan mail, can be explained here. It came from Jonny's mum, who would rather not drive 30 miles to and from Kingston Park to pick up stray letters, good-luck cards, knickers or whatever.

It's Denver for Danny

We will never know if Wilkinson would have been Martin Johnson's first choice as England fly-half when the new manager took over last autumn. Wilko was injured and Danny Cipriani had the honour. Now Cipriani is out of favour and some of us could do with a Dan Brown to de-code Johnson's thinking. Cipriani has gone from being the starting No 10 in Johnson's first three Tests to understudying the uncapped Sam Vesty and Tom May. Rumours of backstage bust-ups are knocked back by Johnson. Next stop for "Cips" is the Churchill Cup in Denver, with matches at Infinity Park and Dick's Sporting Goods Park. We had a comment to give you from a lady at the latter venue but once we'd mentioned she was the Dick's Sporting Goods Park Senior Director of Venue Operations, we ran out of space.

Suggested Topics
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Life and Style
fashionThe supermodel on her career, motherhood and Cara Delevingne
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments