By Ian McGeechan - July 8, 2009
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People always seem to see sports results in black and white, win or lose, glory or sporting disaster. If so, then it seems that the 2009 Lions broke the mould because I have never experienced such a wave of support, warmth and understanding from so wide a range of rugby people, including supporters of what history will show as a defeated team.
Last Saturday's 28-9 win by the Lions in the Third test at Ellis Park was one of my proudest moments, yet in a sense, also the least surprising. The series was already lost, and I have already explained that I have never felt lower in my rugby career than I did after we were so cruelly robbed of victory in the second Test in Pretoria.
People said that the team would fall apart, that the final Test in any series is impossible to win. But I knew the strength of our group of players; their willpower, togetherness and passion. I knew the way that they felt, and that they could not countenance leaving South Africa whitewashed in the series. I agreed with the gracious comment of John Smit, the home captain, that the Lions were 'unbelievable' in the Third Test. I was so thrilled for the players.
And it was in the evening after the match, meeting some of the 35000 travelling fans, that I experienced nothing but warmth, a shared feeling of deep frustration, but also, in the end, an affirmation of what the Lions is - the best thing in our rugby.
When will it sink it that after so many Lions experiences, I will not be involved in the next tour, to Australia in 2013? Only when they leave without me!