Jim Telfer’s 1997 “Everest” speech before the First Test vs South Africa

“The easy bit has passed. Selection for the Test team is the easy bit. You have an awesome responsibility on the eight individual forwards’ shoulders, awesome responsibility. This is your f***ing Everest, boys. Very few ever get a chance in rugby terms to get for the top of Everest. You have the chance today.

Being picked is the easy bit. To win for the Lions in a Test match is the ultimate, but you’ll not do it unless you put your bodies on the line. Every one jack of you for 80 minutes. Defeat doesn’t worry me. I’ve had it often and so have you. It’s performance that matters. If you put in the performance, you’ll get what you deserve. No luck attached to it. If you don’t put it in, then we’re second-raters.

They don’t respect you. They don’t rate you. The only way to be rated is to stick one on them, to get right up in their faces and turn them back, knock them back. Outdo what they do. Outjump them, outscrum them, outruck them, outdrive them, outtackle them, until they’re f***ing sick of you.

Remember the pledges you made. Remember how you depend on each other at every phase, teams within teams, scrums, lineouts, ruck ball, tackles.

They are better than you’ve played against so far. They are better individually or they wouldn’t be there. So it’s an awesome task you have and it will only be done if everybody commits themself now.

You are privileged. You are the chosen few. Many are considered but few are chosen. They don’t think f*** all of us. Nothing. We’re here just to make up the f***ing numbers. No one’s going to do it for you. You have to find your own solace — your own drive, your ambition, your own inner strength, because the moment’s arrived for the greatest game of your f***ing life.”

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