The third oldest player in the British and Irish Lions, Simon Shaw, is considering his two trips to South Africa, which fell apart for about 12 years. Simon Shaw, a respectable 2.03m tall, was not someone you could claim to have been attacked vertically. In such an aggressive and physical position as in the second row, the 2003 Rugby World Cup winner admits he was too relaxed for his own good and often had to create a situation to warm up in the cauldron of the Springboks Test series at the British and Irish Lions. The fans can buy British and Irish Lions tickets from our website e ticketing.
“From the very beginning of my career I’ve always been quite horizontal, very relaxed, so it had been always in my head that I had to light a fireplace of myself,” the former England international revealed in an interview with World Rugby from his home in France.
“In the first minute, I felt I had to do something quite monumental; who can chase a staircase with extra force and crush someone.”
Playing in South Africa is as big a challenge as anyone for a striker and Shaw knows better than most that have travelled there four times, twice with the Lions and twice with England. For Rugby World Cup South Africa tickets visit our website.
Yet despite always being an enormous man for the large occasion, the British and Wasps legend still needed to be goaded into a man-of-the-match performance when he won his first Lions cap within the second test of the 2009 series.
‘In the first Test we had a scrum backwards and it was clear the Springboks had the advantage there. So Adam Jones and Matthew Rees and that i were brought in as three changes to the pack,” he recalled. “We would have come and supposedly solved the problem, and if we had solved the problem, we would have won. I felt under a lot of pressure to create something special.
“I remember the Springboks taking a kick and turning us back 20 meters and that we scored a penalty.
“Bakkies Botha turned to me and said something like ‘I thought they brought you here to stop it, where is it?’
“I think that was exactly what I needed, because I thought I could prove it to you.”
“All I remember is that it was a brutal game, one of the most brutal I can remember getting involved with.”
CHASING LOST CAUSES
The result in Pretoria was also brutal, with the Lions falling at the last minute, 60 meters’ from Morne Steyn’s kick. In a 28-25 defeat, the Lions saved pride. After a poor start in the first Test in Durban, but the series was lost with one game to go. Fans can buy Rugby World cup tickets from our website.
For Shaw, the final game at Ellis Park would be his last appearance. In the famous red jersey at the age of 35 and 306 days. It ended in a 28-9 win over the Lions. Although Shaw received a yellow card in the first half for hitting Fourie Du Preez.
‘I made my face up on the pitch by mocking what I did in the first test. But for some reason, I didn’t get a chance to do too much to notice. Sometimes the ball finds you in one game. But not in the other, and that’s just the way it is,” said Shaw, who lost only two of his 19 games for the Lions on tour in 1997, 2005 and 2009.
“Gats (Warren Gatland) had acknowledged to a variety of players within the room beforehand that. This is able to be your last match game for the Lions and to form it worthwhile. If anything, I lost a bit of composure and I raced around like crazy. And I have pulled away with about 20-30 minutes to go.
“Part of the yellow card was the domino effect of trying to force a problem. There was no malintent, and my legs just gave way.”
Shaw, however, felt the Springboks had done their best for him in 1997 and 2009. Whether he played for England, the Barbarians or the Lions.
“The Springboks base their entire game on a monstrous package. Because for whatever reason they produce these huge men, which in itself may be a huge challenge,” he said.
“There are tons of games I’ve played in where I felt I could physically dominate. Partly due to my size and by using it to my advantage.
“But if you follow the Books, you’re usually on an equivalent level as them in size, if not smaller. And you continue to need to take a percentage or two.
“Playing against the Boks is the biggest challenge in the world. When it comes to playing forward, and I was aware of that.
‘I’ve always been proud to perform well at those times. When you have to perform well regardless of the opposition. And I don’t think I’ve let anyone down in those challenges against South Africa.’
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