Young Toby and Lucas Drysdale have started their rugby journey on the luscious green pitches at the world-famous Sevens Stadium in Dubai with Dubai Exiles RFC.
The two brothers, Toby with the Exiles‘ minis and Lucas with the under 9 group, will not only be enjoying the coaching and guidance of the Exiles’ Mini & Youth rugby coaches but will also be taking inspiration from their legendary great grandad, Scottish International and British Lion, Dan Drysdale.
Great Grandad, Dan. made 26 appearances for Scotland between 1923 and 1929. His test debut took place in January 1923 against France in Inverleith, a raucous crowd of over 45,000 cheering the home team on to a 16 – 3 victory. Great Grandad converting 2 of the three tries scored by Scotland that day from his preferred position of full-back.
1924 British Isles Rugby Union Team
1924 South Africa Team
Dan Drysdale’s performances for Scotland in 1923 and 1924 cemented his place in the British Lions squad for their tour of South Africa in 1924. The First World War had meant that no British side had toured since 1910, and in those times sides only went to Argentina or South Africa.
The 1924 tourists may have left their island home as the British Isles Rugby Union Team, but they returned as ‘Lions’. The Lions name was not formally adopted by the team until the 1950 tour to Australia and New Zealand, but it originated in South Africa in 1924. Journalists from the British Isles and South Africa nicknamed the touring players ‘Lions’ due to the animal featuring on their official tour ties.
At over three months long and consisting of 21 games the 1924 Tour was a struggle for the tourists. Nine of the 21 games ended in Lions victories but not one of the four Tests went Britain and Ireland’s way.
It took Britain some time to reorganise its rugby after the war [WW1], but eventually a tour to South Africa was put in place, and Dr Cove-Smith, a fine and delightful man, was chosen to lead the team that was the first to be called the British Lions. The name had a better journalistic ring to it than the official name of British Isles Rugby Union Team, or BIRUT, on the official notepaper and kit-bags.
Scotsman, Dan Drysdale, played marvellously throughout as a running full-back during the 1924 British Lions tour of South Africa.
The History of the British Lions – Clem Thomas
Four of those victories came in the opening five matches as Cape Town, Kimberley, Salisbury and Pochefstroom were dispatched in a strong opening to the trip. The first Test encounter, in Durban, ended in a 7-3 loss, South African kicking legend Bennie Osler‘s drop-goal gave the Springboks a lead they would not relinquish before a first-half try for the hosts left the Lions with just too much to do.
The series moved on to Johannesburg a week later and four second half tries from the home side saw them run out with a 17-0 victory.
The spoils were shared in a 3-3 draw in Port Elizabeth before what South African critics of the game dubbed ‘the perfect game of rugby football’ in the final test in Cape Town. The Lions put up a brave fight but tries from Stan Harris and Tom Voyce were not enough as South Africa ran in four tries to win the game 16-9.
However, the tour did end on a positive note. Western Province were beaten 8-6, setting up the British Isles side for another, more positive, experience in Argentina three years later.
Dan Drysdale made four appearances for the Lions on the 1924 tour and played a significant role in the 3-3 Port Elizabeth match.
Results of the 1924 British Lions tour in South Africa
|British Lions||v||Wester Province (Town & Country)||Loss||6 - 7|
|British Lions||v||Wester Province (Universities)||Win||9 - 8|
|British Lions||v||Griqualand West||Win||26 - 0|
|British Lions||v||Rhodesia||Win||16 - 3|
|British Lions||v||Western Transvaal||Win||8 - 7|
|British Lions||v||Transvaal||Draw||12 - 12|
|British Lions||v||Orange Free State (Country)||Loss||0 - 6|
|British Lions||v||Orange Free State||Loss||3 - 6|
|British Lions||v||Natal||Draw||3 - 3|
|British Lions||v||South Africa (Durban)||Loss||3 - 7|
|British Lions||v||Witwatersrand||Loss||6 - 10|
|British Lions||v||South Africa (Johannesburg)||Loss||0 - 17|
|British Lions||v||Pretoria||Loss||0 - 6|
|British Lions||v||Cape Colony||Win||13 - 3|
|British Lions||v||North Eastern Districts||Win||20 - 12|
|British Lions||v||Border||Win||12 - 3|
|British Lions||v||Eastern Province||Loss||6 - 14|
|British Lions||v||South Africa (Port Elizabeth)||Draw||3 - 3|
|British Lions||v||South Western Districts||Win||12 - 6|
|British Lions||v||South Africa (Cape Town)||Loss||9 - 16|
|British Lions||v||Western Province||Win||8 - 6|
His last international appearance was in 1929, a repeat of his debut against France and a match in which he captained his country for the 11th time. Scotland had moved from Inverleith to Murrayfield by this point and over 70,000 turned out to watch a close fought contest with the French. Scotland emerging with the victory by 6 points to 3. A penalty from Scottish fly-half, Alex Brown, proving the decisive difference.
Drysdale was born in Kippen, Sterlingshire and went to George Heriots, he also played for Heriot’s FP as well as London Scottish. He was educated at Edinburgh University and the University of Oxford where he played for both educational institutions, Edinburgh University RFC and Oxford University RFC.
As well as representing Scotland and the British Lions Drysdale also played for the Barbarians and in later years, after taking an active role in the administration of the sport with the Scottish Rugby Union he became President of the SRU in 1951.
We know that Lucas and Toby will be extremely proud of their great grandad’s achievements as we also know that great grandad would be exceedingly proud of Toby and Lucas!