Welsh rugby player bitten by lion

Welsh rugby player Scott Baldwin bitten by lion.

Four times touring rugby teams had frightening wildlife encounters in SA

Four frightening, but also hilarious moments when touring rugby teams came face-to-face with Africa’s most dangerous wildlife creatures.

Welsh rugby player bitten by lion

Welsh rugby player Scott Baldwin bitten by lion.

Check out these four frightening, but also hilarious moments when touring rugby teams came face-to-face with some of Africa’s most dangerous wildlife creatures.

Venomous tarantulas, snakes and scorpions as well as roaring Lions. These are just some of the animals that European teams have had close encounters while on tour in South Africa in recent years.

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Welshman Scott Baldwin bitten by lion in 2017

Back in 2017, Welsh hooker Scott Baldwin made headlines when he was bitten on the hand by a lion while touring South Africa with the Ospreys, in the buildup to their game against the Cheetahs.

The Ospreys took time out of their schedule to visit the Weltevrede Game Lodge near Bloemfontein. During the visit, Baldwin attempted to stroke a lion that had put its head up against the bars of the enclosure.

However, the big cat quickly turned and latched on to his hand. Fortunately for Baldwin, he was able to recoil and the lion freed his hand before any substantial damage was done.

England Test squad uses deadly snakes and spiders as therapy in 2018

England toured South Africa in 2018 for a mid-year three-Test series against the Springboks.

Under the tutelage of former head coach Eddie Jones, England lost the opening Test — the match in which Siya Kolisi became the black captain Springbok captain — 42-39 at Ellis Park. The deal with the agony of the crushing defeat, the Englishmen turned to tarantulas and deadly snakes to help them overcame the devastation.

Owen Farrell and his squad arranged for a selection of venomous spiders and reptiles to be brought into camp to take their minds off blowing a 21-point lead to lose the first Test. 

“We had mambas, we had cobras – long green ones, long black-and-white ones,” then defence coach Paul Gustard revealed. “There were tarantulas and dragon things too. The boys were able to not think about rugby for a period of time.”

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Munster players spook coach with snake prank in 2018

While in Bloemfontein ahead of a clash against the Cheetahs, the Munster squad went out for a meal where Flannery was caught out by a brilliant prank.

At lunch, a box was carefully planted near the table the squad had gathered, with team manager Niall O’Donovan telling everyone that some “biltong” has been left there for them to enjoy.

Flannery was encouraged to open the container and upon doing so, he was met by a huge snake on the inside. This prompted the coach to jumped into the air, much to the delight of the all-knowing squad around him.

Englishman Henry Slade checks bed while on safari in bush in 2023

English side, the Exeter Chiefs, were on tour in South Africa for their European Champions Cup clash against the Bulls at Loftus and decided to go on safari before the big match.

According to Slade, they had seen several of the Big Five in the while on a game-drive, but his biggest fear was finding reptiles and scorpions next to him in bed.

“We went on safari and to a traditional steak house one night,” Slade said. “We weren’t nervous being out on the cars on the safari but some of the lads, including me, were nervous about sleeping the night before.

“A couple of the South African guys we have in our squad told us that if you’re in a hotel in the bush, you have to check your beds for scorpions and snakes.

“Everyone was pretty worried about that! These things can do serious harm. It wasn’t ideal. We had a good night’s sleep and everyone survived.”


English rugby players on safari in South Africa copy
Chiefs rugby players on safari in South Africa. Photo: Exeter Chiefs.