What’s happening here?
It’s June 21, 1997 and very early in the first Test between South Africa and the Lions. It’s the much anticipated first scrum of the game and all eyes are on the two front rows. Trying to hold back the combatants is New Zealand referee Colin Hawke. In the red corner we have Tom Smith, Keith Wood and the wholly obscured Paul Wallace; in the green and gold we can see Adrian Garvey while wrapped under this left arm is hooker Naka Drotske. The mighty Os du Randt is an unseen presence on the loosehead. Let battle commence.
What’s the story behind this picture? How long have you got?
You could write a book on the events leading up to this moment of time but let me give you the brief edited highlights.
First there is the overall narrative. Playing the Boks in South Africa you have absolutely no chance unless you can match them up front and everything in the forwards starts at scrum-time. Anchored by Du Randt, the Boks had been comfortably the strongest scrummaging team in Test rugby since they won the World Cup in 1995.
Now let’s turn to the specific circumstances of this tour. In their first big provincial game the Lions pack and front row had come off second best against Western Province at Newlands even though they managed to win the game. There had to be a rapid rethink in personnel, style and attitude or else all would be lost.
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October 18, 2020