1924 British Lions tour to South Africa

1924 British Lions Tour to South Africa
Date 12 July  – 25 September
Coach(es) Harry Packer
Tour captain(s) England Ronald Cove-Smith
Test series winners  South Africa (3–0)
Top test point scorer(s) England Tom Voyce (6)

The 1924 British Isles tour to South Africa was the tenth tour by a British Isles team and the fifth to South Africa. The tour is retrospectively classed as one of the British Lions tours, as the Lions naming convention was not adopted until 1950. As well as South Africa, the tour included a game in Salisbury in Rhodesia, in what would become present day Harare in Zimbabwe.

Tour history

1924 British Lions tour to South Africa
21 9 3 9
Test match
3 0 0 3
 South Africa
4 0 1 3

Led by England's Ronald Cove-Smith and managed by former Wales international Harry Packer, the tour took in 21 matches. Of the 21 games, 17 were against club or invitational teams and four were Test matches against the South African national team. The British Isles lost three and drew one of the Test matches making it one of the least successful Lions tours to South Africa – the 1962 and 1968 tourists also lost their Test series three matches to nil with one draw. The tourist also suffered badly in the non-Test games losing six and drawing one, including a run where they failed to win over an eight-match period.

Several reasons have been put forward regarding the poor performance of the British Isles. The team itself was fairly unrepresentative of the best the home nations could have supplied, during a period where British rugby wasn't in its finest phase. The team also suffered from a heavy attrition rate to injury attributed to the very dry South African playing pitches; conditions that once suited British back play, and were so short of players during some periods the team was forced to use players in foreign positions.

On their return at least two of the players on the tour, Roy Muir Kinnear and Thomas Holliday went on to become dual code rugby internationals after they switched to rugby league.

The match against Orange Free State Country was a peculiar match with the home team being much weaker. Fortune shone upon the home team though, when they won the toss and decided to play with a howling wind on their backs. Half time, the wind died down and proceeded to blow with the same vengeance in the opposite direction. This advantage was enough to ensure a 6–0 win for the home side.

Touring party

Full Backs


Half backs


1 Ian Smith and Roy Muir Kinnear had not been capped by Scotland at the time of the 1924 tour.


Date Opponent Location Result Score
Match 1 12 July Western Province (Town & Country) Cape Town Lost 6–7
Match 2 15 July Western Province (Universities) Cape Town Won 9–8
Match 3 19 July Griqualand West Kimberley Won 26–0
Match 4 24 July Rhodesia Salisbury Won 16–3
Match 5 30 July Western Transvaal Potchefstroom Won 8–7
Match 6 2 August Transvaal Johannesburg Drew 12–12
Match 7 6 August Orange Free State (Country) Kroonstad Lost 0–6
Match 8 9 August Orange Free State Bloemfontein Lost 3–6
Match 9 13 August Natal Pietermaritzburg Drew 3–3
Match 10 16 August South Africa Durban Lost 3–7
Match 11 20 August Witwatersrand Johannesburg Lost 6–10
Match 12 23 August South Africa Johannesburg Lost 0–17
Match 13 27 August Pretoria Pretoria Lost 0–6
Match 14 30 August Cape Colony Kimberley Won 13–3
Match 15 3 September North Eastern Districts Aliwal North Won 20–12
Match 16 6 September Border East London Won 12–3
Match 17 10 September Eastern Province Port Elizabeth Lost 6–14
Match 18 13 September South Africa Port Elizabeth Drew 3–3
Match 19 16 September South Western Districts Oudtshoorn Won 12–6
Match 20 20 September South Africa Cape Town Lost 9–16
Match 21 25 September Western Province Cape Town Won 8–6


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