June 1997, British and Irish Lions tour, South Africa
Sadly, there is no full version of this speech left on YouTube, just the Gillette ad. It gives a feel, without the full majesty.
There are two types of rugby players boys.
There’s honest ones, and there’s the rest.
The honest player gets up in the morning and looks himself in the fucking mirror, and sets his standard. Sets his stall out, and says I’m going to get better. I’m going to get better. I’m going to get better.
He doesn’t complain about the food, or the beds, or the referees. Or all these sorts of things.
These are just peripheral things that weak players have always complained about. The dishonest player.
If I tell a player he’s too high, or he’s not tight enough, he’s too fucking high. He’s not tight enough. And that’s it. I’m the judge, and not the player.
And we accept that, and we do something about it.
I’ve coached Lions teams before, and we’ve complained and carped and this that and the next thing.
And I liken it a bit to the British and the Irish going abroad on holiday.
The first thing they look for is an English pub, the second thing they look is a pint of Guinness
and the third thing they look for is a fish and chip shop.
The only thing they accept is the sun. They don't take on anything that’s good or decent of different abroad.
If we do that we’re sunk!
We don't go back bitchin'. We don't go back carpin', Oh we've done it this way at Twickenham or Cardiff Arms parks or Lansdowne Road or Murrayfield!
No, no these days are past.
What’s accepted over there is not accepted over here. It's not accepted by us -- me and you.
So from now on the page is turned. Were in a new book, different attitudes. We’re honest with ourselves.
And in many respects in the forward play, and let's be fuckin honest, we've been second best.
We can match them! But only if we get it right here (points to his head) and right here (points to his heart).
Two weeks. There’s battles all along the way. There’s a battle on Saturday. There’s a battle next Wednesday. There’s a battle the following Saturday. A battle the following Tuesday -- until were into the fuckin’ big arena. The one we’ll be there on Saturday. And by that time the fuckin’ Lions have to make them fuckin’ roar for us.
Because they'll be baying for blood. Let’s hope it's fucking springbok blood
We’re focussed. From now on, kid gloves are off. It's bare knuckle fuckin’ stuff. And only at the end of the day will the man that’s standing on his feet win the fuckin’ battle.
Related content: Ian McGeechan coach's address on same Lions tour, 'Be special for the rest of your lives', 1997.
"We’ve wounded a springbok.
When an animal is wounded it returns in frenzy.
It doesn’t think. It fights for its very existence.
The lion waits, and at the right point, it goes for the jugular.
And the life disappears."