Although the Lions had done poorly when touring New Zealand in 1966 (they lost all four tests to the All Blacks), the seeds had been sown for the successful series of 1971. Wales had won the Grand Slam in the Five Nations Championship in 1971, and appropriately supplied more players than any other Home nation to the touring squad. Both the coach and captain were also Welsh. This was the only tour to result in a Lions victory over the All Blacks, a major factor in their victory was self belief. Gerald Davies explained, "...somewhere along the line it becomes a mental thing...We grew in confidence; we came to believe it was possible to beat the All Blacks.
The Lions won the first test in Dunedin 9–3, with a penalty goal to the All Blacks, and two penalties and a try, (scored by Ian McLauchlan) to the Lions. Several Lion's players later admitted they were over-confident following their initial test victory. The Lions were hence convincingly beaten 22–12 in the second test in Christchurch, with the All Blacks outscoring them five tries (Bob Burgess (2), Sid Going, Ian Kirkpatrick, pen try) to two (Davies (2)). The third test match was played at Athletic Park, Wellington. The Lions did not make the same mistake they had in Christchurch, resulting in a 13–3 win, the Lions scored two converted tries and a drop goal. The All Blacks managed only a try.
Following the third test the Lions led the series 2 - 1. The final game played in Auckland would require an All Black victory for New Zealand to draw the series. A draw or Lions victory would give the Lions a series win. Scores were level 8–8 at half time with a try, conversion and penalty each. The first 15 minutes of the second half saw the Lions land a penalty goal and the All Blacks score a try. With the scores tied 11–11, Lions fullback JPR Williams received the ball 45 metres out and attempted a drop goal, it was successful and put the Lions ahead 14–11. Remarkably, Williams' drop goal was the only one he ever landed in his test career. The All Blacks could only manage three further points from a sole penalty to draw the game and give the Lions the series.
|Match 1||12 May||Queensland||Brisbane||Lost||15-11|
|Match 2||15 May||New South Wales||Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney||Won||12-14|
|Match 3||22 May||Counties-Thames Valley||Pukekohe||Won||3-25|
|Match 4||26 May||King Country-Wanganui||Wanganui||Won||9-22|
|Match 5||29 May||Waikato||Hamilton||Won||14-35|
|Match 6||2 June||New Zealand Māori||Eden Park, Auckland||Won||12-23|
|Match 7||5 June||Wellington||Athletic Park, Wellington||Won||9-47|
|Match 8||9 June||South Canterbury-Mid Canterbury-North Otago||Timaru||Won||6-25|
|Match 9||12 June||Otago||Carisbrook, Dunedin||Won||9-21|
|Match 10||17 June||West Coast-Buller||Greymouth||Won||6-39|
|Match 11||19 June||Canterbury||Lancaster Park, Canterbury||Won||9-14|
|Match 12||22 June||Marlborough-Nelson Bays||Blenheim||Won||12-31|
|Match 13||26 June||New Zealand||Carisbrook, Dunedin||Won||3-9|
|Match 14||30 June||Southland||Invercargill||Won||3-25|
|Match 15||3 July||Taranaki||New Plymouth||Won||9-14|
|Match 16||6 July||New Zealand Universities||Athletic Park, Wellington||Won||6-27|
|Match 17||10 July||New Zealand||Lancaster Park, Christchurch||Lost||22-12|
|Match 18||July 14||Wairarapa-Bush||Masterton||Won||6-27|
|Match 19||July 17||Hawke's Bay||Napier||Won||6-25|
|Match 20||July 21||Poverty Bay-East Coast||Gisborne||Won||12-18|
|Match 21||July 24||Auckland||Eden Park, Auckland||Won||12-19|
|Match 22||July 31||New Zealand||Athletic Park, Wellington||Won||3-13|
|Match 23||August 4||Manawatu-Horowhenua||Palmerston North||Won||6-39|
|Match 24||August 7||North Auckland||Whangarei||Won||5-11|
|Match 25||August 10||Bay of Plenty||Tauranga||Won||14-20|
|Match 26||August 14||New Zealand||Eden Park, Auckland||Drew||14-14|
NEW ZEALAND; Fergie McCormick, Bruce Hunter, Bryan Williams, Wayne Cottrell, Ken Carrington, Bob Burgess, Sid Going, Jazz Muller, Tane Norton, Richie Guy, Peter Whiting, Colin Meads (c), Alan McNaughton, Ian Kirkpatrick, Alan Sutherland
LIONS; Williams, Gerald Davies, Dawes (c), Gibson, Bevan, John, Edwards (rep Hopkins), Lynch, Pullin, McLauchlan, McBride, Thomas, Taylor, Dixon, Mervyn Davies.
NEW ZEALAND; Laurie Mains, Bruce Hunter, Howard Joseph, Wayne Cottrell, Bryan Williams, Bob Burgess, Sid Going, Jazz Muller, Tane Norton, Richie Guy, Peter Whiting, Colin Meads (c), Alan McNaughton, Ian Kirkpatrick, Alex Wyllie
LIONS; Williams, Gerald Davies, Dawes (c), Gibson, Duckham, John, Edwards, Lynch, Pullin, McLauchlan, McBride, Thomas, Taylor, Dixon, Mervyn Davies.
NEW ZEALAND; Laurie Mains, Bruce Hunter, Howard Joseph, Wayne Cottrell, Ken Carrington, Bob Burgess (rep Mick Duncan), Sid Going, Jazz Muller, Tane Norton, Richie Guy, Colin Meads (c), Brian Lochore, Alan McNaughton Ian Kirkpatrick, Alex Wyllie
LIONS; Williams, Gerald Davies, Dawes (c), Gibson, Duckham, John, Edwards, Lynch, Pullin, McLauchlan, McBride, Brown, Quinnell, Slattery, Mervyn Davies.
NEW ZEALAND; Laurie Mains, Ken Carrington, Mick Duncan, Phil Gard, Bryan Williams, Wayne Cottrell, Sid Going, Jazz Muller, Tane Norton, Richie Guy, Colin Meads (c), Peter Whiting, Ian Kirkpatrick, Tom Lister, Alex Wyllie
LIONS; Williams, Gerald Davies, Dawes (c), Gibson, Duckham, John, Edwards, Lynch, Pullin, McLauchlan, McBride, Brown, Taylor, Dixon, Mervyn Davies.