Rugby murder and a rubbish heap
McBride's 'Invincibles' were unbeaten in 1974
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Willie-John McBride's Lions opened their Test series against South Africa with a 12-3 win in Cape Town. Fly-half Phil Bennett landed three penalties while scrum-half Gareth Edwards kicked a drop goal in conditions that resembled a wet afternoon in west Wales. Although it was 3-3 at the break, a strong wind was with the Lions in the second half and they made full use of it as the home side wilted. In the Daily Mirror Chris Lander wrote that it was "rugby murder against a nation that has clearly fallen behind the world's major powers as a result of four years isolation from sporting competition".
Wales and England met on foreign soil in the quarter finals of the inaugural Rugby World Cup. Wales won an uninspiring Monday afternoon match 16-3 at Ballymore in Brisbane which left the 12,000 crowd "either dozed off in boredom or jeering in derision". The headline in the Daily Express pulled no punches: "England's failures on the rubbish heap again."
England, led by Paul Dodge, crashed out of their tour of New Zealand with a 42-15 defeat by the All Blacks in the final Test in Wellington. It was brutal end to the trip as four England players and three Kiwis were left needing stitches, and one (wisely unnamed) England player told the Guardian: "I was physically frightened".
Six years before Willie-John McBride was leading the Lions to one of their most famous victories, the boot was on the other foot as the Spingboks won a close match in Pretoria 25-20. The defeat was made even worse by the loss of Barry John who broke his collar bone when tackled by Jan Ellis ; he took no further part in the tour.
Phil Bennett played a captain's part landing four penalties in a 12-7 win against Otago that kept the Lions' unbeaten tour record intact.
Fred Allen's All Blacks in South Africa gave a convincing display whilst defeating South Western Districts 21-3 - five tries to nil - at the Olympics Ground in Oudtshoorn.
In New Zealand, John Carleton scored four tries for the Lions and Dusty Hare kicked ten goals in the 52-16 win against West Coast in Greymouth.
Former All Black fullback Ben Blair signed for the Cardiff Blues. The ex-Crusader proved to be a major success for the region, with his strong running and superb goal-kicking helping them to the Anglo-Welsh Cup title and Heineken Cup semi-final in 2009 as well as the European Challenge Cup title the following year.