Planet Rugby

The British & Irish Lions


Lions tour 2001

2001 - Ronan OGara of the British Lions leaves the field after he was hit by Duncan McRae of the Waratahs

Ronan O'Gara leaves the field after he was hit by Duncan McRae of the Waratahs

2001 - Brian ODriscoll of the British and Irish Lions dives over the line for a try during the First Test

Brian O'Driscoll breaks away to score one of the most memorable Lions tries

2001 - British and Irish Lions squad

The British and Irish Lions squad

22nd April 2013 13:28


2001 - British and Irish Lions captain Martin Johnson #4 Rob Henderson #12 dejected after the third Test defeat

British and Irish Lions captain Martin Johnson is left dejected after the third Test defeat

The class of 2001 created history before they even left as New Zealander Graham Henry became the first overseas coach, while Martin Johnson was confirmed as captain for the second time.

The team started their preparations for the Test series by playing six warm-up matches against Australian provincial sides, winning five and losing one. Although the game against the match against the Waratahs was marred by a serious facial injury suffered by Ronan O'Gara after a clash with Duncan McRae

The tour had created great excitement back home and more than 20,000 vocal supporters travelled over to support the squad.

Captain Johnson was supplemented by experienced hands such as Keith Wood, Neil Back, Richard Hill, Scott Quinnell, Jonny Wilkinson and Brian O'Driscoll.

After comfortable wins in warm-up matches the squad was confident as the first Test approached.

However, a defeat against Australia 'A' was swiftly followed by accusations of discontent in the camp caused by an apparent distinction between the Test and midweek sides.

The rumours didn't seem to affect the team, though. In the first Test match it took Jason Robinson just two minutes to score in the corner and send the travelling fans into raptures.

This was followed by tries from James and Quinnell before the highlight of the game arrived early in the second half.

O'Driscoll picked up a pass and broke through two Aussie players before skipping past another as he raced 50 yards to score and kill the contest off and seal a 29-13 win as the Lions got their tour off to a perfect start.

Austin Healey scored two tries and Matt Dawson kicked 15 points as the midweek side scraped by the ACT Brumbies with a 30-28 victory. The match, though, was the start of Healey's bust up with Australian lock Justin Harrison - with the Lions back describing him as a 'plank' ahead of the final Test.

The Lions headed into the second test looking to seal the victory that would win them the series. The squad were buoyed by confidence from the first Test and it showed as Wilkinson kicked six early points to put the Lions ahead again.

Australia replied with a Matt Burke penalty but that only spurred the Lions on and Back went over to give them an 11-6 half-time lead.

It was the second half where the Lions capitulated. Unnecessary mistakes let Australia in and they managed to score 15 points in 10 minutes as Joe Roff crossed for two tries. Wilkinson kicked another penalty to give The Lions brief hope but Burke went over to score a try of his own and kick two more penalties to see the game out as Australia tied the series 1-1 with a convincing 35-14 victory.

The series came down to a dramatic final Test and both teams battled hard in a close contest.

The scoring opened in the third minute as a penalty was kicked by Burke.

Wilkinson was doubtful for the final Test due to injury but he kicked a penalty of his own to tie the scores up.

Burke scored another two penalties before a converted Robinson try gave the Lions a 10-9 lead. Daniel Herbert scored a converted try to put the Aussies back in the lead but Wilkinson closed the gap to three points with another penalty.

Wilkinson then converted his own try to put the Lions ahead by four points. Another converted Herbert try was followed by a Wilkinson penalty to draw the match level at 23-23.

However, Burke kicked another two penalties which eventually decided the series as Australia ran out 29-23 winners to claim the series. The Lions had half a chance at the end but Harrison had the last laugh in his feud with Healey as he stole a Lions lineout 10m from the Australia line.June 8 v Western Australia W 116-10
June 12 v Queensland Presidents XV W 83-6
June 16 v Queensland Reds W 42-8
June 19 v Australia 'A' L 25-28
June 23 v New South Wales Waratahs W 41-24
June 26 v New South Wales Country W 46-3
June 30 v Australia W 29-13
July 3 v ACT Brumbies W 30-28
July 7 v Australia L 14-35
July 14 v Australia L 23-29