A Conversation with the Springboks

The winner of the 2021 Castle Lager Lions Series will be the recipients of the first perpetual trophy in the history of the Tour, created by Thomas Lyte – Official Silverware Supplier to The British & Irish Lions.


Thomas Lyte will be providing both the Trophy for the Series between the Lions and South Africa, as well as the silverware for The Vodafone Lions 1888 Cup meeting with Japan in June.


That fixture at BT Murrayfield will be the first-ever clash between the world’s greatest touring side and the Brave Blossoms – and the first time a home fixture has been played since 2005.


It will be followed by the Lions’ eagerly-awaited Tour to South Africa as the tourists attempt to repeat the heroics of 1997 in a three-Test series against the Springboks.


And more than just bragging rights will be up for grabs when the famous rivalry – which stretches back to 1891 and includes 13 series in total – is renewed this summer.


Castle Lager brand director, Kudzi Mathabire expressed excitement for the carefully crafted piece set to hit the South African shores for all to experience: “This incredible trophy is a symbol of what to expect when two greats come together in a clash as rare and as unique as the Castle Lager Lions Series. As a quintessentially South African brand, we are backing the Springboks and hope that the trophy stays in South Africa for us to enjoy because rugby is well and truly #InOurBlood.”


The new Tour trophy was handcrafted by Thomas Lyte’s London-based silver workshops, by their team of master craftsmen and craftswomen, and has taken more than 150 hours to make.


Standing at 60cm tall and weighing 6kg, the main body of the trophy was handspun from a single sheet of sterling silver, while the base is handmade from sapele hardwood.


Hot forging was used to bend small rods of sterling silver at over 700 degrees Celsius before they were soldered together to create the shape of a chalice with the Lions Series Logo attached. The chalice was gold plated in a chemical reaction called electroplating and all the individual pieces were polished separately with motorised polishing lathes spinning at over 3000 rpm. Once the Lions Series Logo was engraved onto the main body of the trophy, it was assembled, cleaned and passed to Thomas Lyte’s quality control team for the final check. Specialising in bespoke gold and silverware as well as elite sporting trophies, Thomas Lyte are world-renowned trophy makers for many of sport’s most prestigious awards.

The FA Cup, the Guinness Six Nations trophy, the FIFA eWorld Cup, the Laver Cup, the FIBA World Cup trophy and the Nitto ATP World Tour Singles trophy are all Thomas Lyte creations. Thomas Lyte also manages complex restorations, restoring the Ryder Cup, the Webb Ellis Rugby World Cup, the British Formula 1 Grand Prix Trophy and the Davis Cup Trophy among others.


A proud Royal Warrant Holder as Goldsmiths and Silversmiths to Her Majesty the Queen, Thomas Lyte has been a direct supplier and restorer of silverware to the Royal Household since 2010.


And now as the Official Silverware Supplier to The British & Irish Lions, Thomas Lyte have delivered a trophy to be lifted by the winner of the Series in South Africa. The Lions last toured South Africa in 2009 when the Springboks emerged triumphant with a 2-1 Test series victory following three brutal, tightly-contested matches.


South Africa was also home to the first Tour of the professional era as the Lions upset the odds in the now-iconic 1997 Series – famously documented in Living With Lions.


Jim Telfer’s Everest Speech, Matt Dawson’s dummy, Jeremy Guscott’s drop goal were all etched into the rugby history books from that Tour as the Lions claimed a dramatic 2-1 series win.


And while the first three-quarters of the 20th century was largely a tale of Springbok dominance, Willie John McBride’s 1974 Invincibles changed all that and ended 78 years of hurt.


Historically speaking, the Lions and South Africa are incredibly evenly matched. The Boks have won 23 of the 46 Test matches played, the Lions have won 17 with six more draws.


2021 will be the third-consecutive Tour to South Africa in which the Lions face the reigning world champions and the stage is set for another chapter in the saga to be written.

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