on 12 January 2002
I started to read the book when the plane took off from London, and finshed it 12 hours later before arriving in Hong Kong, having only to put it down for the meals, and even then I was reluctant to do that!
This book is to the 2001 tour to Australia, what the video of 'Living With The Lions' was to the 1997 Lions tour to South Africa.
It follows the 2001 Lions tour, through the eyes of a Scottish rugby journalist, right from the beginning with the selection of the management, coach and team, to the controvorsies surrounding sponsorship, media rights and finance control, to the training sessions, the matches, itineries, the Australian psyche, the difference in attitude of the Lions management and Australian management to the press, finishing with key players in the early drunken hours after the final test game.
Lots of funny moments like the painful questioning by lesser informed journalists, room sharing roster, the friendly attitude of Australians to the 'Pommies' especially to Findlay Calder's sucessful 1989 Lions tour to Austrlia, and the Austin Healey - Justin Harrison saga!
Insightful views regarding unbiased Australia's media(!), the feelings of the non-test selected players and the difference between the amature days and present.
Damning of the attitude of the Lion's tour management regarding selection, training, goals and with the press, and the hyprocrasy of the Austrlian rugby fraternity and the failure of the Lions tour managment to counter it.
As it says at the top of the front cover, "The Version They Couldn't Censor" and thankfully it was not! Excellent book.
on 28 January 2004
The Lions Tour in 2001 was a tremendous one for rugby in Australia. The atmosphere in every city for the games and at the stadium was terrific - largely due to the red-shirted British and Irish Lions supporters who made the series a fantastic and memorable one. The Lions convincingly defeated the Wallabies in the opening Test in Brisbane setting up what would be a very exciting series that came down to a deciding Third Test in Sydney after Australia turned the tables in the Second Test in Melbourne.
I picked up this book hoping to relive the excitement, some controversy and great rugby of the Lions Tour. Unfortunately this book does only a reasonable job.
The first chapter starts the book off promisingly, outlining the arrival of the players and initial contact with the media. However from Chapter 2, titled "Bad Blood", onwards the author never misses an opportunity to bag the Aussies and would be an easy gold medallist if having a chip on your shoulder was an Olympic event. He must not have enjoyed the tour, whether for the result of the series or something else, and rather gives the impression of a sore loser. Thankfully his countrymen who made the trip as supporters were anything but and gave such a good account of themselves especially after the narrow defeat in the final match that I know Australian rugby fans are already looking forward to renewing ties the next time the Lions come Down Under. This goodwill by the visitors didn't extend to the author unfortunately and the vitriol against all things Australian mars what could have been an interesting book from a journalist who was able to follow the Lions team closely.
While it does finish positively and with an interesting aside that Graham Henry could be coaching New Zealand for the Lions tour there in 2005 - which now looks likely to be true - for a more accurate and enjoyable read I would recommend the offical book of the Lions Tour to Australia in 2001 "Wounded Pride" by Mick Cleary.