The British Lions Rugby Union squad arrived in Johannesburg on Tuesday (7 May) to begin their controversial South African tour.
The British Lions Rugby Union squad arrived in Johannesburg on Tuesday (7 May) to begin their controversial South African tour. And within hours of their arrival, the Kenyan National Sports Council broke off all sporting links with Britain. The council's decision was the most serious of a number of African protests against the tour, which went ahead without the backing of the British Government. Prime Minister Harold Wilson, however, said the Government did not have the power to prevent the players making the trip.
In Johannesburg, the Lions received an enthusiastic welcome from South African Rugby officials and supporters. (Their departure from London the night before had been quiet - and demonstration-free). The welcoming committee in Johannesburg was led by the Minister for Sport, Dr. Piet Koornhof, who said it was a great day for Rugby Union in South Africa. These comments were echoed by the president of the South African Rugby Union, Dr. Danie Craven, who added: "Let's call them the courageous Lions."
However the British squad's arrival wasn't without incident. Bobby Windsor, the teams' second string hooker, was whisked away to hospital, suffering from gaster-enteritis. Windsor was expected to rejoin the team later in the week.
The 30-man British squad is scheduled to play 22 matches during the tour - two of them against non-white teams. The group left the airport to go into training at Stilfontein in the Transvaal.
At the airport, newsmen questioned British team manager, Alun Thomas, Dr. Koornhof, Mr. Craven and the Lions themselves on the significance of the tour. Below is a transcript of the interviews: