Cape Town - Playing a Super Rugby fixture against the Chiefs on Good Friday was too much for Swys de Bruin.
According to the Stuff website, the Lions' coach has revealed the guilt of playing on the religious holiday triggered a mental breakdown and forced him to bail on the their tour of New Zealand last month.
De Bruin told You magazine he woke up in a cold sweat and his hotel bed sheets were drenched. His wife, Marilize, told him to return home to South Africa immediately.
"The Lions are a Christian team and I found it incredibly difficult to play on Good Friday," the 59-year-old said.
"Many of our supporters criticised us for that, too. I felt I should've taken a stand, but I didn't. I started getting a hollow feeling in my stomach and thought, 'today I'm saying goodbye to the world,'."
The Lions went on to beat the Chiefs 23-17 in Hamilton under interim head coach Ivan van Rooyen, before being thumped 36-10 by the Crusaders in Christchurch the following week.
It was initially reported De Bruin, who is also a Springboks assistant coach, returned home because of a "serious" medical condition.
De Bruin returned to the helm of the team the past weekend, when they edged the Waratahs 29-28 in Johannesburg.
The Lions face a brutal run-in in their final five matches with clashes against the Highlanders (H), Sharks (A), Stormers (H), Hurricanes (H) and Bulls (A).