- Harlequins wing returns to the scene of iconic try for British Lions in 2009
- It was definitely the best game I’ve played in and the best day of my life – Monye
Initially rattled, but soon elated, Ugo Monye returned to the scene of his greatest triumph when England took to Ellis Park for the captain’s run ahead of the second Test against the Springboks in Johannesburg.
The 29 year-old scored a stunning interception try for the British and Irish Lions on his last visit to clinch the third Test in 2009, securing a record-equalling margin of victory over South Africa and handing the Springboks only their third defeat at the venue since 1993.
Talking through his memories of the match the Lions won 28-9, the beaming Harlequins wing said: “I walked into the changing rooms and it actually felt quite eerie.
“Everything became really clear again, I remember the exact seat that I sat in, I remember the team talk that was given, remember the emotions after the game, the tears, the laughter, the joy.
“Here in 2009 was definitely the best game I’ve played in and the best day of my life. There are so many good emotions.
“It’s great to be back here – they see this as the home of South African rugby, where they won the 1995 World Cup, so good memories for them but good memories for me too.”
The Harlequins wing raced the length of the pitch towards a sea of red-shirted Lions fans after collecting a loose pass before pumping the air in an iconic celebration.
Photo: Getty Images
During a conditioning session with RFU Senior National Fitness Coach Calvin Morriss as he continues his rehabilitation from a hamstring injury, Monye was once again running down towards those same posts.
Monye’s participation on England’s tour to South Africa has come on the back of the Aviva Premiership victory with Quins, but he is in no doubt which moment he cherishes more.
“I’ve been doing a bit of conditioning session running towards those posts and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about the celebration from back then, I remember seeing a sea of red in the stands,” said the 15-Test cap man.
“It was the most special day of my life – I’ve got a tattoo to commemorate it and I hope to have many more of those days, whether it be with Quins or with England. I’ve been at the club for 11 years and just won the Premiership, so that was pretty decent too, but I guess Lions is a bit of a one-off.”
Monye was not involved in the thrilling 36-27 second Test defeat to the Springboks but after a series of progressive running sessions, he should be fit for selection for this week’s matches – the non-cap match against South Africa Barbarians North in Potchefstroom on Tuesday and the third and final Test in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
He added: “I ran again this morning and the hamstring is feeling better. What I’m looking for is progress every single day and I think I’m doing that.
“There’s still a lot of work to do to work hard with the conditioners, it’s a bit tough at altitude as well. Fingers crossed, I’ll be fit for selection [for the third test].”
Ugo Monye's try for the British Lions against South Africa, July 4 2009: