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british lions

By Richard Forrester. LAST UPDATED November 6th, 2015

Classic kits: British and Irish Lions 1959

A look back at the Lions' tour down under

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In a week where it was announced Cantebury would be the new kit maker of the British Lions for the 2017 tour of New Zealand, we delve into the archive to highlight a classic kit that the famous side wore in 1959.

Back in those days, kits would be a relatively simple affair. Wearing the traditional red with a white collar and the iconic badge printed on the left chest, the Lions embarked down under – and to Canada for two matches on their way home.

Captained by Ronnie Dawson and managed by Alf Wilson, the tour began in Australia and the British Lions got off to an emphatic start, defeating the host country 17-6 in the first match and 24-3 in the second.

But the real test was soon to follow. The team made the trip to New Zealand to take on the All Blacks in the first of four tests starting on 18 July in Dunedin.

However, it was heartbreak in the first test as the British Lions scored four tries but conceded six penalties to New Zealand narrowly losing 18-17. The result wasn’t without controversy. New Zealand referee Allan Fleury awarded 35 penalties throughout the game with 21 of them going to the All Blacks.

The second clash ended in similar vein. Full-back Don Clarke, who kicked all of New Zealand’s points in the first test, scored a stunning try to seal a 11-8 victory over the Lions.

With two tests left to play, injuries hampered the Lions’ team selection and New Zealand once again ran out winners with a 22-8 victory but it wasn’t all doom and gloom for the travelling side.

Lions claimed an impressive 9-6 victory in front of 60,000 people in Auckland before winning their two fixtures in Canada against British Columbia and Eastern Canada.

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