Lions History


Lions Legends

Willie John McBride 1974

Willie John McBride

 Height 1.92 m (6 ft 3 1⁄2 in) 

 Weight 102 kg (16 st 1 lb) 

Years played for Lions 1962, 1966, 1968,1971, 1974   

Willie John McBride played as a lock for Ireland and the British and Irish Lions. He toured with the Lions five times — a record that gave him 17 Lions Test caps. He also captained the most successful ever Lions side which toured South Africa in 1974. 

Born in Toomebridge, McBride started playing rugby when he was 17. After he left school he joined the Ballymena R.F.C., and in 1962 was selected to play for Ireland. Later that year he was selected to tour South Africa with the British and Irish Lions. 

McBride's outstanding leadership qualities led to his appointment as captain of the 1974 Lions tour to South Africa. The Test series was won 3-0, with one match drawn — the first Lions series ever won in South Africa. It was one of the most controversial and physical Test match series ever played. The management of the Lions concluded that the Springboks dominated their opponents with physical aggression, and so decided to match fire with fire. 

Willie John McBride instigated a policy of "one in, all in" - that is, when one Lion retaliated, all other Lions were expected to join in. If the South Africans were to resort to foul play then the Lions would "get their retaliation in first." The signal for this was to call "99".

In 2004 McBride was named in Rugby World magazine as "Heineken Rugby Personality of the Century". 

Barry John New Zealand vs British Lions

Barry John  

Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in) 

Weight 75 kg (11 st 11 lb) 

Played for Lions 1968–71   

John, a Welsh rugby union fly-half , began his rugby career as a schoolboy playing for his local team Cefneithin RFC before switching to first-class west Wales team Llanelli RFC in 1964. 

In 1967 John joined Cardiff RFC and here he formed a partnership with Gareth Edwards that became one of the most famous half-back pairings in world rugby. From 1967, John and Edwards made an inseparable partnership with rugby selectors, being chosen to play together at all levels of the sport, for Cardiff, Wales, the Barbarians and in 1968 for the British Lions tour of South Africa.

 The 1968 British Lions tour ended prematurely for John when he suffered a broken collarbone in the first Test match against the South African national team. 

John cemented his reputation as one of the sport's greatest players with his pivotal role in the British Lions winning tour over New Zealand in 1971. On the 1971 tour, John played in all four Tests, playing some of his finest rugby and finishing as the Lions' top Test scorer. 

John won 25 caps for the Wales national team and 5 for the British Lions. Possessing excellent balance to his running and along with precision kicking made him one of the great players of the modern era. He retired from rugby at the age of 27, citing the pressure of fame and expectation behind his decision. He is considered by many to be the greatest fly-half in the sport's history, and became known as "The King".

Score Ratios

South Africa

W: 10 / L: 10

New Zealand

W: 10 / L: 10


W: 10 / L: 10


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