The Story of the Springbok who wrestled a Lion and lived to tell the story

The Story of the Springbok who wrestled a Lion and lived to tell the story

South African rugby players have become well known for being hardmen on and off the field with the likes of Schalk Burger and Bakkies Botha two recent examples of their brutal and physical approaches to the game.

For over 100 years, South Africa has produced some brutes who have put their bodies on the line as well as others who have a disregard for pain and their mad thirst for combat.


In an article on the Mumble In The Jungle, highly respected former sportswriter turned comms man Clinton van der Berg took a look at the 10 Greatest Hard Men Of Springbok Rugby.

The top man on van der Berg's list is a name most won't recognise in Andy MacDonald. The prop played for then Rhodesia [Now Zimbabwe] and later South Africa, earning renown as the most feared prop in the 1960s.

MacDonald earned high praise from All Blacks' legend Colin Meads who said: “Andy MacDonald was probably the most imposing physical specimen we have lined up against.”

In Meads' book he told the story of MacDonald who wrestled a lion on his farm in Zambia.

"The animal rounded on McDonald, who wrestled with the angry beast, even pulling on its tongue. The lion eventually died and MacDonald required 480 stitches for his injuries, which saw him lose part of his thumb and first finger." van der Berg wrote in the article.

“Andy was badly mauled by a lion when he went home after the 1965 tour,” wrote Meads in his book. “It would be a toss-up as to whose side I’d rather have been on.”

READ the full article which features Butch James, Schalk Burger, Bakkies Botha and more.

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