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The 1971 Lions Tour of New Zealand features twenty-six matches including four All Black Tests. The pride of the UK had justifiably high hopes for the voyage which began with two tour matches in Australia, against Queensland and New South Wales.
Lion John Taylor “We were given a toy lion by a well-wisher before leaving the UK and were instructed to give it to the first provincial side that beat us. The last words were, “I hope you bring him home with you.” He never even made it to New Zealand.
Ten days before the Lions were due to arrive in New Zealand, they faced Queensland at Ballymore. A strong Reds side, featuring fourteen current or future Wallabies, shocked the Brits with brawny defence and first-class discipline to win 15-11.
Queensland Representative Number 830 Jeff McLean “I was pulling beers in my dad’s pub on the morning of the game. Then I got my gear together and went off to play on the wing for Queensland. There was a huge traffic jam on the way to the ground and the coppers stopped us at the gate at Ballymore. They weren’t going to let our car in. Jules Guerassimoff, who was on the bench, leaned out the window and said to the policeman, ‘Have you ever seen this many people riot?’ The copper looked confused and said, ‘No.’ ‘Well you will if you don’t let us in – we’re the players.’ It was always nice when you get recognised before one of the biggest games of your life.
Queensland Representative Number 838, Lloyd Graham “I played full-back and I kicked a field goal near the touchline, just inside the Lions half. It’s become a local legend, that one. It’s got longer and longer by the telling, until after a while, if you’d ask someone, they’d probably have said I’d kick it over the creek in Finsbury Park.
The 1971 Lions went on to lose only one more match on tour, against the All Blacks at Christchurch’s Lancaster park, before claiming the test series 2-1. Above disrupting the famed tourists, Queensland’s win provided a catalyst for involvement, support and belief throughout the thriving Reds community.
The 1974 International Rugby Board join Queensland Rugby Chairman Norbert Byrne (left) and President Joe Gibson (right) at Ballymore to pose with the Lions' mascot won in 1971.
Make sure you're there at Suncorp Stadium on April 21 for the St.George Queensland Reds' clash against the Chiefs in Queensland Rugby's 1000th capped match.
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20 JULY 2018