Win a brilliant book about the 1997 Lions
One of the stars of the 1997 British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa was pocket rocket Scott Gibbs. The Welsh centre’s partnership with Jeremy Guscott is just one discussion point in the brilliant book This Is Your Everest, published recently by Polaris.
At the foot of this article, we’re giving you a chance to win one of six copies of the book that has been written by Tom English and Peter Burns. First, to give you a flavour of their work, here are a few words about Gibbs – a mix of direct extracts and our own paraphrasing. We start with reflections from the first Test at Newlands…
André Snyman (Springbok wing): “Scott Gibbs tackled me and tipped me over into the turf. That was a moment when you go, ‘Hang on a second, this is a new level’.
“There’s an action photo of me with my legs right up in the air. Nowadays the rules would have given him a red card, but back then it was all just part and parcel of a big defence. When that happened, for me it set the tone. ‘Hang on, we need to pull up our socks here’.”
Lawrence Dallaglio: “Gibbsy absolutely emptied him. The whole stadium went ballistic.”
Jeremy Guscott: “He was always shouting at the opposition, Gibbsy. I remember him shouting at [Gary] Teichmann a lot, giving him some verbals. It’s not something I ever did. I didn’t want to encourage people to run at me.
“Gibbsy was doing it to make them run at him, put them off whatever their game plan might have been – and it worked. You’ve got to be slightly dull to run at him, thinking you’re going to run over him.”
Gibbs trod a dangerous line with his physical approach. Against the Blue Bulls in Pretoria, he was sent on as a substitute and threw a punch at opposing centre Grant Esterhuizen. It resulted in a citing and a one-match ban but Gibbs says: “With more camera angles and super slo-mo replays, today I’d have had a red card for sure.”
He was also party to a remarkable coincidence. He had taken a knock in the second game of the tour against Border and went to the local hospital in Boland for an X-ray.
“The attendant radiologist was delighted to see me,” Gibbs explains, “because he recognised that I’d had the same injury four years earlier, when his son was born, and he’d named his son after me. Imagine that! What are the chances of me landing in a Boland emergency room for an ankle injury and the radiographer’s son was named after me four years earlier? Incredible. Luckily there was nothing major wrong.”
Fast-forward to the second Test in Kings Park, Durban and the famous moment when Gibbs carried so forcefully that when giant loosehead Os du Randt tried to tackle him, the Springbok was left behind like roadkill.
Fran Cotton (team manager): “Scotty gave us hope with that run. To this day I can see him glancing casually down on poor Os as he struggled to get his senses together.”
Jeremy Guscott: “Gibbsy wanted to take on the Springboks all by himself. He was so pumped up that he just wanted to smash anything in a green jersey. He’s not the biggest bloke in the world but he would have taken on anyone that day. It was one of the inspiring moments I’ve ever experienced on a rugby field.”
Os du Randt: “Ja, it was a big hit. Still makes me pretty angry that he got through.”
Jim Telfer (forwards coach): “When I first met Scott Gibbs he was so intimidating. He used to shout at the centre opposite him in games, ‘I’m gonna get you! I’m gonna get you!’ And then he would. And that kind of thing would lift the spirits of the fellas round him.”
Jeremy Guscott: “We won a penalty from the ruck when Gibbsy was eventually brought to ground and as he jogged back I heard him say to du Randt: ‘Get up, you fat ox’.”
Scott Gibbs: “I’ve always liked to do a bit of trash talking. In the first Test, Japie Mulder was tearing his hair out because he just wanted to throttle me. He was trying to get a good hit. I know he was getting frustrated because I remember Joost [van der Westhuizen] telling me a story about it later. He was saying, ‘I’m going to rip his head off but I can’t get to him!’
“I watched the three Tests back-to-back recently, during the first Covid lockdown, and Os had a very, very strong series. That collision was probably at the halfway point of the three games but it was definitely a watershed moment.”
The Lions went on to win the series 2-1. And Gibbs enjoyed the whole experience so much that he later lived in Cape Town, from 2010 to 2016.
Now enter our competition to win the book or buy it here
This Is Your Everest is published by Polaris, RRP £17.99, and comes highly recommended. You can buy it by clicking on this Amazon link.
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We also have six copies to give away, courtesy of Polaris. For a chance to win a copy, just answer the question below and fill in your details. The competition closes on Friday 23 July.