Bill Beaumont's injury-hit squad went on a controversial tour of apartheid South Africa and lost 3-1 as the curtain came down on the international career of two Lions.
The British government had opposed the tour due to the sporting contact with the apartheid regime in South Africa. Despite the opposition, the rugby unions of England (RFU), Scotland (SRU), Wales (WRU) and Ireland (IRFU) all approved the tour by January 1980.
Syd Millar was installed as manager with Noel Murphy as the coach of the team that won every non-international match played on tour.
The squad contained only 10 players with previous Lions experience in the shape of stars including Derek Quinnell, Andy Irvine and Fran Cotton.
But the injury-ravaged squad called up eight more players to cover for the nine who were forced to drop out.
Two of these injured players would never play international rugby again. Just seconds into the first warm-up game against Eastern Province, Stuart Lane suffered a knee injury he would never fully recover from. Rodney O'Donnell then suffered a neck injury that would put him out of the game for life.
Another six players, David Richard, Gareth Davies, Terry Holmes, Phil Blakeway and Cotton would all also leave the squad during the 10-week tour.
The Lions never really recovered from these losses and conceded five tries in the opening Test, scoring only one from Graham Price. Naas Botha converted three of the tries for South Africa and these were answered by five penalties and a drop goal by Tony Ward made the score 26-22 in the Springboks favour.
Bloemfontein was the scene for the second match where The Lions showed improvement by notching two tries but the Boks ran out comfortable 26-19 winners.
Injuries started to mount up and expectations were low in the crucial third Test as the Lions were only narrowly beaten.
Bruce Hay scored a try and Ollie Campbell added two penalties but the Springboks emerged with a 12-10 victory and a series win.
The Lions went into the final Test attempting to stop only the second ever Lions whitewash and restored some pride as they won 17-13 in front of 68,000 spectators.