Classic Lions moment – Guscott drop goal 1997
In association with Kelloggs, JOE looks at some of the most iconic moments in Lions history and few are better than Jeremy Guscott’s tour-winning drop goal in 1997.
The Lions won in South Africa after defeat the previous time out in New Zealand in what would be one of the most memorable Lions tours for a number of reasons.
Firstly, they won, which was an unusual occurrence in South Africa. As of now the Lions have won lost four and won eight against the Springboks, and this also marked the first tour after the end of apartheid. It was also the first tour of the professional era with some suggesting that it could spark the end of the long-standing amateur tradition.
Against this backdrop, the Lions stormed to a 26-16 victory in the opening Test in Cape Town. The hosts were not found wanting in the physical stakes and as the then World Cup champions, their side was stacked with some of the biggest names in world rugby.
It set up the second game in Durban up perfectly and this was the classic edge-of-the-seat fare served up at Kings Park. The Springboks scored three tries without a single conversion or penalty, while the tourists relied on five accurate kicks between the posts by Neil Jenkins to leave the match delicately poised at 15 points apiece.
With just minutes remaining, Jerry Guscott would write his name into Lions folklore with a brilliant winning drop-goal that sealed victory with one game remaining. Guscott's Lions and England team-mate Rob Andrew described it as “a defining moment in sport” and it is hard to disagree with that statement.
The hosts managed some consolation by winning the final Test 35-16, but it mattered little as Ian McGeechan’s side emerged victorious, the last time the travelling side took the spoils.
And after his heroics in South Africa he spent 12 months out recovering from a broken arm and back injuries. Indeed in 1993, after a 2-1 series defeat in New Zealand, he suffered a groin and pelvic injury that forced him out of the game for 12 months also.
History will fondly remember the drop goal, the Living With The Lions as one of the best sporting documentaries of all time and most importantly, a winning Lions series.
Lions coverage on JOE brought to you in association with Kellogg’s, official cereal & snack provider to the IRFU.