1924 British Lions tour
to South Africa
Date12 July – 25 September
Coach(es)Harry Packer
Tour captain(s)England Ronald Cove-Smith
Test series winners South Africa (3–0)
Top test point scorer(s)England Tom Voyce (6)

The 1924 British Isles tour to South Africa was the tenth tour by a British Isles team and the fifth to South Africa. The tour is retrospectively classed as one of the British Lions tours, as the Lions naming convention was not adopted until 1950. As well as South Africa, the tour included a game in Salisbury in Rhodesia, in what would become present day Harare in Zimbabwe.

Tour history

1924 British Lions tour
to South Africa
ManagerHarry Packer
Tour captain(s)R. Cove-Smith
21 09 03 09
Test match
03 00 00 03
 South Africa
4 0 1 3

Led by England's Ronald Cove-Smith and managed by former Wales international Harry Packer, the tour took in 21 matches. Of the 21 games, 17 were against club or invitational teams and four were Test matches against the South African national team. The British Isles lost three and drew one of the Test matches making it one of the least successful Lions tours to South Africa – the 1962 and 1968 tourists also lost their Test series three matches to nil with one draw. The tourist also suffered badly in the non-Test games losing six and drawing one, including a run where they failed to win over an eight-match period.

Team kit

Several reasons have been put forward regarding the poor performance of the British Isles. The team itself was fairly unrepresentative of the best the home nations could have supplied, during a period where British rugby wasn't in its finest phase. The team also suffered from a heavy attrition rate to injury attributed to the very dry South African playing pitches; conditions that once suited British back play, and were so short of players during some periods the team was forced to use players in foreign positions.

On their return at least two of the players on the tour, Roy Kinnear and Thomas Holliday went on to become dual code rugby internationals after they switched to rugby league.

The match against Orange Free State Country was a peculiar match with the home team being much weaker. Fortune shone upon the home team though, when they won the toss and decided to play with a howling wind on their backs. Half time, the wind died down and proceeded to blow with the same vengeance in the opposite direction. This advantage was enough to ensure a 6–0 win for the home side.

Touring party

1 Ian Smith and Roy Muir Kinnear had not been capped by Scotland at the time of the 1924 tour.


Complete list of matches played by the British Isles in South Africa:[1]

  Test matches

The South Africa team that played the third test v the British Isles on 13 September
# Date Opponent Location Result Score
1 12 July Western Province (Town & Country) Cape Town Lost 6–7
2 15 July Western Province (Universities) Cape Town Won 9–8
3 19 July Griqualand West Kimberley Won 26–0
4 24 July Southern Rhodesia Salisbury Won 16–3
5 30 July Western Transvaal Potchefstroom Won 8–7
6 2 August Transvaal Johannesburg Drawn 12–12
7 6 August Orange Free State (Country) Kroonstad Lost 0–6
8 9 August Orange Free State Bloemfontein Lost 3–6
9 13 August Natal Pietermaritzburg Drawn 3–3
10 16 August  South Africa Durban Lost 3–7
11 20 August Witwatersrand Johannesburg Lost 6–10
12 23 August  South Africa Johannesburg Lost 0–17
13 27 August Pretoria Pretoria Lost 0–6
14 30 August Cape Colony Kimberley | Won 13–3
15 3 September North Eastern Districts Aliwal North Won 20–12
16 6 September Border East London Won 12–3
17 10 September Eastern Province Port Elizabeth Lost 6–14
18 13 September  South Africa Port Elizabeth Drawn 3–3
19 16 September South Western Districts Oudtshoorn Won 12–6
20 20 September  South Africa Cape Town Lost 9–16
21 25 September Western Province Cape Town Won 8–6