S.Kings to be supported by Lion slayers

Five members of the Border team which defeated the British Lions 14-12 during their 1955 tour of South Africa, will be reunited at the Youth Day clash between the British and Irish Lions and the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday.


The Southern Kings will be launched by SARugby and are hoping to have them become a Super Rugby team in the Super 15.


Bill Loppnow, Hilmer Puchert, Tony Viljoen, Chappie Moll and Bill Cunningham are among only eight survivors of the Border team which triumphed over the famous 1955 tourists.


“The guys are really looking forward to attending the match against the Lions – it’s been 54 years since we defeated them,” said 82-year-old Loppnow.


“What makes that win back in 1955 so remarkable was that we only had one training session, which was on the Thursday before the game.


“There were no programmes like the teams follow today, no real team-building sessions ahead of the game; we just arrived at training on the Thursday as ordinary club players from all corners of the Eastern Cape and played with a lot of passion and pride.


“Our team included club players who lived in the Queenstown, Transkei and the East London to name but a few areas that were represented in the Border side.”


Tony Viljoen echoed Loppnow’s sentiments and added that he was also looking forward to attending the match at the newly built Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.


“It’s going to be interesting, yet exciting to travel to Port Elizabeth and watch the British & Irish Lions live in action again,” said the 75-year-old Viljoen.


“What will make this game very interesting for me is back in 1955 we only had one official practice before the game. The Southern Kings also would not have had too much match practice before next Tuesday’s match.


“Obviously we were literally amateurs back then and these guys who will represent the Kings are full-on professionals, they probably train twice a day. So it will interesting to see how the game goes.”


The 1955 Lions shared the Test series with South Africa, 2-2. The tourists defeated the Springboks 23-22 in the first Test in Johannesburg and were also victorious in the third international in Pretoria 9-6.


The South Africans though had the better of the British & Irish Lions team in the second (25-9) and the fourth (22-8) Tests, winning those fixtures by comfortable margins.


The Lions were defeated in their opening game of the 1955 tour 9-6 to the Western Transvaal side and were also defeated by Eastern Province (20-0) and Border (14-12).


They drew 17-17 with Eastern Transvaal. Overall, the tourists played 25 matches including a fixture against an East Africa XI in Nairobi. The British & Irish Lions were defeated on five occasions, drew one match and picked up 19 victories on tour.

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