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Living With Lions ESPN Classics (Sky 442), 9.25pm

IT'S hard to believe there's a rugby fan out there who hasn't seen this classic documentary of the 1997 British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa, writes Graham Woods.

But with the Lions heading back there this summer it's a perfect time to recall the thrills and spills of that victorious series.

The programme's laid-bare style - there's no voice-over and precious little camera movement - gives it a unique intensity.

If you don't like rugby players, your feelings will only be strengthened as some of the players' public school-style bantering and the fans' singing gets a bit cringeworthy at times..

But the close-ups of Martin Johnson's face being stitched up during a match or the tears in Rob Howley's eyes as he realises his tour may have been ended by a shoulder injury are pretty stark images, and the underlying theme of the brutality of South African rugby is maintained throughout.

Personal highlights include the scene where a ridiculous amount of fluid is drained from Simon Shaw's cauliflower ear, prompting an onlooking Scott Quinnell to ask: "Is it me or is his head getting smaller?", and the bit where John Bentley interviews an attractive young lady in the gym with the camera pointing everywhere but at her face.

And of course when the Lions stuff the Boks and win the series. Bring it on..


Lion John Bentley leads the clebrations
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Apr 10, 2009
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