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Robin Welsh who played in the Southland team that played against the British Isles at Rugby Park on Saturday 11 June 1966 remembered that it was one of their finest hours. He recalls they were still playing club rugby at the time and after his Pirates Rugby Club practice on the Thursday night one of the lower grades players wished him good luck for the Saturday. He told Robin "Do it for us, the players that turn out every week to ensure that you guys have someone to play against. We will not all make it, but are in it for the love of the game and it is really us that you have to thank, so give us something to be thankful for"
It struck a cord with Robin and he remembers that the fires burnt with a huge will to succeed and make his fellow players proud of him, and it was the best way he could thank them.
The terraces, stands and grass embankments were overflowing with a crowd of over 20,000. I remember running out of the tunnel and seeing just a sea of faces but that was only for a few seconds and then my mind was on the game. We knew that we could only win it if we kept it simple, minimise our mistakes and belief that we can win. We wanted to play an orthodoxed game with nothing flash.
I have to say even playing at No. 11, it was the forward pack of; Greg Spencer (1) S. R. Hardiman (2) J. C. Lindsay (3)
Gerald Dermody (4) Jack Hazlett (5) and captain Harry Miller (6) Alan Frew (7) and Ack Soper (8) that led the charge. They completed dominated the Lions that day in every aspect of forward play especially in the scrummaging and rucking. The crowd came and saw the finest display of forward work, may ever to come off rugby park.
After coming straight from a successful Australian tour, I think a lot of our supporters thought we would be overwhelmed by the occasion, but we took them on without ever thinking we were going to lose. They of course tried to get inside our heads and started niggling us but they got more than they bargained for and at one time the referee cautioned a lions player, but that was not enough for us and we retaliated, as you do, and the referee cautioned both teams and made the captains shake hands and the game continued. I think if we had let them away with it, the game definitely would have changed.
With the forwards playing so well, we knew we could not let them down and the backs which were: C.D. Hay (9) Robin Archer (10) Robin Welsh (11) J. T. Beazley (12) P. E. Savage (13) G. A. Townsend (14) B.J. Cullen (15)
It took a while for us to settle into the game but in the second half we took control and Robin Archer, the general that day, and who had been criticised for his kicking recently, dictated the game with his precise and skilful kicking. It was his kicking that produced the points and he tested the Lion's full back Wilson on many occasions. Four minutes into the game. At about the 20 minute mark, the Lions gained some momentum and this resulted in a penalty goal to Wilson.
I remember Archer throwing me long well connecting passes which beat the defence and gave me enough time to put accurate kicks through and gain good territory
Cullen scored 11 points that day and although his kicking was off in the first half, he surely made up for it in the second half.
His try came about by Archer placing the ball perfectly and put Southland into the Lion's 25, where Wilson was caught up in a tackle and a quick ruck gave Southland the ball and Cullen was stopped a few feet short of the line but crawling on his hands and knees managed to get over for the try.
The Lions did score after half time which left us defence shell shocked as the halfback, Lewis picked the ball up from the scrum at our 25 and dummied, side stepped and went over the line in a tackle. We were caught napping and we opened the gate twice for him just to step his way through.
This was the catalyst in us pulling up our socks as the crowd roared at us. Jack Hazlett ripped the ball of Watkins and was bought down just short of the line, Savage went over the line but was called back. Hay snapped the ball up quickly from the scrum and wiggled through to score the deciding try, near the posts.
We played hard out for the next 10 minutes and felt that the Lions were tiring. We had our foot on their throat and were not about to take it off for anything.
The key to the win was there was not fancy stuff, just good simple rugby with no mistakes and the belief that we could win.