Sky Sports is showing all of the documentaries covering the British & Irish Lions tours from 1997 to 2017. This week, we take a closer look at the 2009 documentary covering the tour to South Africa
By Sky Sports Rugby Union
Last Updated: 28/01/21 6:00am
The British & Irish Lions returned to South Africa in 2009 seeking to restore their reputation following the whitewash against New Zealand four years earlier.
Ian McGeechan was back to oversee the team on this occasion, having done so 12 years earlier when the Lions scored a memorable triumph over the Springboks.
There would be no repeat this time around as the hosts took a 2-1 win in the Test series, but the tourists won acclaim in defeat, being narrowly denied a share of the spoils in the second Test by a last-second penalty and triumphing 28-9 in the third.
What went on behind the scenes was captured in the documentary ‘Living With The Pride’ and we take a look at some of the key moments you may have forgotten…
1. O’Connell’s captaincy call
Being called up to a Lions squad is an honour reserved for a select few in its own right and being chosen as the man who will captain the team is a privilege even fewer players get to experience in their careers.
Ireland international Paul O’Connell was picked to lead the team in South Africa in 2009, although the second row revealed it took several attempts for head coach McGeechan to get hold of him to inform him of the good news.
2. Choosing a squad
Narrowing down a longlist of contenders to the final squad for a tour is never an easy task and ‘Living With The Pride’ gave an insight into how the 37-man squad for the series against South Africa was selected.
Cameras were allowed into the final selection meeting as McGeechan, tour manager Gerald Davies and the rest of the coaching staff discussed the attributes they were looking for and what would be needed if the 2009 Lions were to defeat the Springboks.
3. The ultimate Lion
Who would be the person who best epitomises everything about the British & Irish Lions? Many would say Willie John McBride, while McGeechan himself would undoubtedly be in the discussion as well for his achievements with the team as a player and coach.
The former Scotland international had his own ideas about who was his ultimate Lion though, revealing who that was and explaining why as he spoke to his squad about his expectations of them while on tour.
4. Monye meets a fan
The Lions always attract plenty of interest wherever they tour and in 2009 that proved to be the case when they held an open training session shortly after arriving in South Africa.
Ugo Monye in particular had a young fan who admired him, although he was surprised when he found out how much the youngster’s hoodie with Monye’s name and number on it cost him.
5. The Bobby Cup
Strength and conditioning coach Paul ‘Bobby’ Stridgeon has become something of a cult hero to viewers of the more recent Lions documentaries and it was during the 2009 tour his unique sense of humour first came to light.
On this occasion, Stridgeon introduced the Bobby Cup, which was handed out to a man of the week from a winning team. First up to get this honour was Mike Blair, who was treated to a ‘Through The Keyhole’ video shown to all of his team-mates.
6. Geech’s final speech
After suffering defeats in the first two Tests, particularly the agonising end to the second, the Lions arrived in Johannesburg for the final match of the series with the intention of ending on a high.
McGeechan urged his team pre-match to ensure they give everyone something positive to hold onto before the next tour to Australia commenced four years later, with the emotion of the occasion getting to the man himself.
Watch all of the documentaries covering the British & Irish Lions tours from 1997 to 2017 on Sky Sports over the coming weeks. Up next is ‘Lions Raw’, covering the 2013 tour of Australia, on Sky Sports Arena on Tuesday, February 2 at 10pm.
Source : Sky Sports