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.

hughgodwin@yahoo.co.uk

Suggested Topics
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas