Gavin Hastings

Legacy of the Lions

1 October 2021
Headshot of Gavin Hastings.

It’s a strange thing for rugby players – if they are selected for the British and Irish Lions they have the briefest of times to become the trusted teammates of the very people who have been their keenest sporting foes for years.

As team captain for the 1993 New Zealand tour Gavin Hastings was responsible for helping weld some big men, with very big personalities into a unit capable of taking on the best in the world. 

Ahead of his appearance at Wigtown Book Festival Gavin (one of Scotland’s greatest ever players – and national team captain 20 times) said: These tours happen every four years, so you can imagine that the anticipation is absolutely enormous. 

“There’s an amazing amount of hype around these tours and it’s not surprising. You basically have a chance to create history by winning the test series against whoever the host nation is, be it New Zealand, South Africa or Australia. 

“So essentially what happens is that a squad of players get selected - the best from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales and you literally have about two weeks together before you travel to the overseas country. 

“You have spent the intervening four year period playing against each other for your club or country as rivals, but then you come together and find out that they are really nice blokes.”

Gavin’s book The Legacy of The Lions looks at leadership through a sporting lens, but is full of wisdom that’s applicable in all aspects of work and life.

It contains interweaving stories with insights about what players, captains and coaches of the competing teams felt were the key lessons from their success or failure – and also their views on the Lions.

Reflecting on what he learned from his time with the Lions Gavin says that total commitment is critical – because the tours are so far apart it’s a once (maybe twice) in a lifetime honour so you can’t simply think you’ll try harder next season

He says: “If you're wanting to have success with the British and Irish Lions, you realise that you've got to give everything to the cause. The momentum has to keep going, and everybody has to pull in the same direction and raise the standards at all times. The enjoyment comes from winning.” 

There have been many figures from the world of rugby who he finds inspirational, and also from other sporting realms – among the Sir Alex Ferguson.

“He always seemed to be in control of his emotions,” says Gavin “and one thing that he said was that no individual was bigger than the team. And, you know, those of us that are lucky enough to play a team sport, I think would adhere to that sort of mantra.

And then there’s the matter of legacy. Gavin sums it up neatly: “They've created memories wherever they've gone and that’s their enduring legacy.”

You can watch Gavin's Wigtown Book Festival event online, book your tickets here. You can purchase a copy of Legacy of the Lions from our online bookshop.