Carter's one-man show floors limp Lions
So easy ... Dan Carter cuts through Lions tackles during the rout in Wellington © Getty Images
All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter staged a one-man demolition of the Lions as they slumped to their heaviest-ever Test loss, beaten 48-18 by New Zealand in Wellington. His 33-point haul included two tries, four conversions and five penalties, all after after the Lions had taken the lead after 90 seconds through a Jonny Wilkinson try. Manager Clive Woodward refused to admit he had made any mistakes. "I don't intend to defend myself," he said. "I wouldn't change anything I have done. I've copped a lot of flak all week but you just have to accept it and be positive." And there was more of the same heading in his direction before the tour was over.
After being forced by the law-makers to abandon their 2-3-2 "diamond" scrimmage which they had used since 1905, New Zealand lost their first Test of the three-man front-row era 22-17 to Australia in Sydney. Years of practice and acquired coaching expertise had enabled the All Blacks to use their 2-3-2 scrum to master the customary eights employed by opponents. Their spare forward was employed as a "rover" to help clear up loose ball as it emerged from the scrum or act as a wing forward in defence. The defensive aspects of the rover's game upset Mr "Bim" Baxter, the manager of the British/Irish Lions side that toured New Zealand in 1930. After the tourists' opening game against Wanganui, he condemned the New Zealand system at the after-match banquet. Further invectives by Baxter came in the wake of the Lions' games against Taranaki and Wairarapa. The upshot was that, in 1931, the IRB changed the law on scrummaging in an attempt to enforce uniformity among the rugby-playing nations. The amended law restricted striking for the ball in the tunnel until it had passed "the first three feet of the front row forwards of each team." At one fell swoop the New Zealand method of hooking the ball in the 2-3-2 scrum was outlawed. The law effectively compelled the New Zealanders to change their tactics.
David Bedell-Sivright's Lions opened their three-Test series with Australia with a convincing 17-0 win at the SCG. Welsh wing Willie Llewellyn scored twice for the tourists who came into the match on the back of four relatively easy wins.
Transvaal, twice winners against the 1903 Lions, continued their winning ways with a decisive 27-8 triumph against Tom Smyth's British/Irish team at the Wanderers Ground in Johannesburg.
The Lions went down 15-8 to New Zealand in the third Test of their four-match series but bounced back to at least avoid a humiliating whitewash in the final Test. Although the scoreline was relatively close, this was a grim rearguard action in the mud of Dunedin and for the last half-hour the Lions barely broke out of their own 22.
Clive Woodward, who manage the 2005 Lions, announced his intention to take a party comprising 44 players and a back-up team of more than two dozen for the tour of New Zealand. The man of the moment after guiding England to the 2003 World Cup, the Lions tour only served to chip away at his reputation. Ian McGeechan, who was on the trip, wrote: "His answer was bold, effectively creating two Lions parties, with the players dividing into two groups, one for weekend games, the other travelling for midweek fixtures. There were 51 Lions who played on tour and two enormous management teams. In theory it sounded good but it missed the boat by being far too cumbersome for a five-week build-up to the Tests."
The Lions ran riot against Orange Free State. Cliff Morgan the catalyst in a 31-3 victory that brought a hat trick of tries for England centre Jeff Butterfield.
Mike Gibson, on the first of his five Lions visits, scored a try in the Lions' 12-9 win against Taranaki.
Three penalties by skipper Phil Bennett provided the cushion for the Lions to win their tour match against Wellington 13-6 at Athletic Park.