Lawrence Dallaglio knows what it means to be a British and Irish Lion in South Africa, and on the latest episode of Jersey Tales he has described the 1997 tour as the “greatest rugby experience” of his life.
Considering Dallaglio played in two Rugby World Cup finals for England, and lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in 2003, that is a statement that should add to the excitement of those named in the current squad on Thursday.
As Dallaglio acknowledges on Jersey Tales, he was “lucky enough” to be selected on three Lions tours, travelling to Australia and New Zealand as well as South Africa.
The Lions narrowly lost the series to the Wallabies in 2001, while the number eight broke his ankle just 20 minutes into his first match on the 2005 tour.
On his debut tour in South Africa, though, Dallaglio played in all three tests as the Lions sealed a 2-1 test series victory against the Springboks.
“I was lucky enough to represent the Lions on three occasions,” the World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee said, “we will talk about 1997, which was an amazing experience.
“I remember the uniqueness of rooming with your opposite number. So, my first room-mate was Rob Wainwright, who obviously played for Scotland, and him and I would be vying, as it turned out, for the number six jersey.
“I remember rooming with Keith Wood, who was just a wonderful man, wonderful human being, wonderful rugby guy, wonderful snorer. I had to take his bed out of the room and move it down the corridor, put it outside Jeremy Guscott’s room.
“Talk about work hard, play hard, that was the attitude out in South Africa.”
Dallaglio added: “To play for the Lions, and that experience I had and shared in 1997 I would say was the greatest rugby experience of my life.”
On this week’s show, Dallaglio talks about how joining Wasps as a youngster helped him cope with his grief following his sister’s death, the advice his mum gave former England coach Jack Rowell and the feeling of lifting the Webb Ellis Cup in 2003.
Watch the full episode above, and don’t forget to check the official World Rugby YouTube channel for a new episode every Thursday.