Cooch’s Mini Series: Part 3

 In British & Irish Lions

We’re back again with Part 3 of Cooch’s Mini Series, asking our very own Gareth “Cooch” Chilcott questions about the Lions back when he was playing in his successful 1989 Series win against Australia right through to the present day.

If you missed the first two parts, you can find them on our website by clicking here.


Q6. Did you have some great nights out? 

The social side is all important, you need the players to gel together as one team, and the players of 89 still remain friends to this day.

Today’s rugby is fantastic and players are role models and are under the public and media spotlight, we did not really have that problem too much. The media back then often stayed in the same hotels as the squad (frowned upon nowadays). They were always just on the fringes of the tour and became good friends. I still see a lot of the reporters from back in the day and regularly meet up, they reported on the Rugby and did not have the pressures of the modern media looking for different angles.

I also remember in 1989, mobile phones were in there infancy and not many had them and certainly never had cameras on them, so when we had a good night, not everything was spread around the internet for all to see. We had a social committee which was set up. I was on it, together with people like Mike Griffiths, John Jeffrey, Donal Lenihan, Robert Jones and maybe a couple of others, it was our job to suggest to the management different types of activates throughout the tour from white water rafting, sightseeing and cultural nights. There was, of course, under the radar events, which usual involved bars which sold the best Guinness, but these were never sanctioned by the management, and the lack of phone cameras meant it never got back to management. However, I think we had a mole, because most of the time the management team were already in there!!!

Q7 – Who was the standout tourist, other than you, and why? 

The 89 Lions were full of great players and characters from across the home nations and Southern Ireland. The playing side of things threw up great cameo performances, Jeremy Guscott was in the right place at the right time, which was one of his great strengths. The young Dai Youngs grew in stature, and who could forget the fantastic performances of Mike Teague, who quite rightly got man of the series. The leadership of Finlay Calder and Donal Lenihan, the rock solid Gavin Hastings, the tigerish Robert Jones. The list is endless.

As a tour we are the only Lions to have ever won a test series after losing the first test, I was hoping that would be equalled in NZ recently but sadly it ended a draw! People often say Lions tours are won off the field, and it’s only when you have been on a British and Irish Lions tour do you really realise the truth of this. All management and players need to come together for the cause, if they want to beat the Southern Hemisphere greats.

Q8 – Were there any squad members you didn’t get along with? 

We are all different and its human nature that over a long 3 month tour that there will be differences of option, and somebody will be getting right on your nerves. The advantage of having a good management and social set up is that these things get noticed, sorted out quickly and not allowed to fester. To sort those things out, it may mean a little one on one in contact training, or a drink together in a corner, or even a small bit of social distancing for a short time, something we are all having to get use to in these troubling times.

But my lasting memories of the 89 Lions were one of fellowship and lifelong friends.


Look out for the next instalment coming this week!

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