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The History

2009 South Africa

Captain: Paul O’Connell – Coach: Ian McGeechan

The 2009 tour started out with fairly low expectations. The Lions were heading down to South Africa, home of the World Champions. Given the previous performance of the Lions against New Zealand which resulted in a comfortable “black wash” by the…

2005 New Zealand

Captain: Brian O’Driscoll
Coach: Clive Woodward

With Sir Clive Woodward hot off the trails of a much lauded World Cup win in 2003, the board of the Lions were quick to appoint him as head coach of the 2005 Lions and to try and recreate that success. Brian O’Driscoll was recruited as …

2001 Australia

Captain: Martin Johnson
Coach: Graham Henry

The tour to Australia in 2001 was coached for the first time by someone outside of the British Isles with Kiwi Graham Henry being appointed to lead the team down under. Martin Johnson was back for his second stint as captain and became …

1997 South Africa

Captain: Martin Johnson
Coach: Ian McGeechan

1997 was the first professional Lions tour undertaken and the current World Cup holders South Africa were expected to thrash the Lions. Fortunately, captain Martin Johnson and coach Ian McGeechan had other ideas. The 1st test was a tight …

1993 New Zealand

Captain: Gavin Hastings
Coach: Ian McGeechan

The last tour of the amateur age saw Gavin Hastings captain the side with Ian McGeechan as coach for the second time with Geoff Cooke as tour manager. England supplied the bulk of the players for the tour with 17 of the 30 players on tour …

1989 Australia

Captain: Finlay Calder
Coach: Ian McGeechan

This was the first time the Lions had toured Australia since 1971 and the first time they had toured Australia exclusively for 90 years. Expectation for the tour was high and with Finlay Calder captaining the side, the Lions were expected …

1983 New Zealand

Captain: Ciaran Fitzgerald
Coach: Jim Telfer

The New Zealand tour of 1983 was another tour to forget as the Lions went down to a 4-0 whitewash for only the second time in history. The tour captained by Ciaran Fitzgerald, coached by Jim Telfer and managed by Willie John McBride …

1980 South Africa

Captain: Bill Beaumont
Coach: N Murphy

Lions skipper, Bill Beaumont came into the tour following a recapture of the Five Nations crown for the first time in 16 years and proceeded to lead the Lions on their whistlestop tour of South Africa in 1980. An injury ravaged side were …

1977 New Zealand

Captain: Phil Bennett
Coach: John Dawes

Following their magnificent series victory in 1971 proved to be a bit of a tough act to follow. The 1977 tour to New Zealand captained by the Lions hero Phil Bennett, coached by the victorious 1971 captain John Dawes and managed by George …

1974 South Africa

Captain: Willie John McBride
Coach: Syd Millar

Three years after triumphing in New Zealand the Lions faced a much stiffer test in facing a South African side who had not lost a test series that century. The tour was a magnificent success with the tourists setting achievement after …

1971 Australia and New Zealand

Captain: John Dawes – Coach: Carwyn James

This was the last combined tour of Australia and New Zealand, and saw captain John Dawes lead the Lions on one of the most successful and memorable British Lions tours ever. The first test saw the Lions pick up a 9-3 victory in Dunedin …


1968 South Africa

Captain: Tom Kiernan – Coach: Ronnie Dawson

Having suffered many series defeats against the Springboks over the years, the Lions were fully expectant of what was in store for them in this tour. Although the tourists suffered a 3-0 loss once again to the Boks, they left with pride a …


1966 Australia and New Zealand

Captain: Mike Campbell-Lamerton – Coach: J.D Robins

The 1966 Lions were talked up before the tour as being one of the best Lions sides ever, but in reality this Lions tour was probably the worst performance by any Lions team over the years. Even though they secured victory in Australia, …


1962 South Africa

Captain: Arthur Smith – Coach: D.B Vaughan

The South African tour of 1962 saw a return to the forward dominated style of rugby that had been so successful for the Boks for the past few years. Captain Arthur Smith lead the Lions into battle winning 16 and drawing 4 of their matches …


1959 Australia and New Zealand

Captain: Ronnie Dawson – Coach: A.W Wilson

The 1959 Lions squad was not only captained by Irishman Ronnie Dawson, but for the first time the Irish had a greater representation than Wales, England and Scotland. Starting off with two fine test victories over Australia, the Lions …


1955 South Africa

Captain: Robin Thompson – Coach: D.E Davies

The Lions touring team of 1955 set unprecedented standards in dismantling the aura of the seemingly invincible Springboks and endearing themselves to the hosts at the same time. The tour was lead by Irish Lock Robin Thompson and the …


1950 Australia and New Zealand

Captain: Karl Mullen – Coach: L.B Osbourne

The first post-war Lions tour saw the parties morale at extremly high levels, due to the extended break afforded to the players before the start of ther tour. The tour also marked the first occasions that the Lions played in their now …


1938 South Africa

Captain: Sam Walker – Coach: B.C Hartley

As the last Lions side to tour before the impending war, the tour in 1938 looked shorn of a number of its star players before the tour even kicked off. The party lead from the front by Sam Walker were staring down the barrel of defeat by …


1930 Australia and New Zealand

Captain: F.D Prentice – Coach: James

The biggest issues of the 1930 tour seemed to be the availability and injury of its key players. 100 players were invited to tour but the Lions could only manage to get 29 players on board for the tour. This tour was captained by F. D. …


1924 South Africa

Captain: Ronald Cove-Smith – Coach: H Packer

The South African tour of 1924 saw the tourists set out as the British Isles rugby team but return as the now famous British Lions. Bravely captained by Englands Ronald Cove-Smith, the Lions suffered on the hard grounds in South Africa …


1910 South Africa

Captain: Tom Smyth – Coach: W Cail

The 1910 tour to South Arica was the first tour to take a serious approach to its organisation. For the first time, all four unions were represented and the missionary work that was part of the previous tours was no longer required and so it was …


1908 Australia and New Zealand

Captain: Boxer Harding – Coach: G.F Harnett

In 1908 New Zealand rugby was beginning to come to the fore and this showed in the itinerary of the tour placing a greater emphasis on the number of matches played in each country. The tour was was captained by Boxer Harding and featured …


1904 New Zealand

Captain: Darkie Bedell-Sivright – Coach: A.B O’Brien

The 1904 series saw the introduction of the test series of matches for the first time. The tour was captained by scottish hard man Darkie Bedell-Sivright. The British Isles tore through the opening matches of the series with convincing …


1903 South Africa

Captain: Mark Morrison – Coach: Johnny Hammond

By 1903, the British tourists really knew they were going to have a battle on their hands when they opened up the tour with three bruising losses in the first three games. The side captained by Mark Morrison suffered badly at the hands of …


1899 Australia

Captain: Matthew Mullineux/Frank Stout – Coach: None

The 1899 tour to Australia was the first time all four home unions played together as the British Isles touring team. The tour was organised and captained by the Englishman Reverand Matthew Mullineux, who has the dubious honour of being …


1896 South Africa

Captain: Johnny Hammond – Coach: R Walker

The third British Isles rugby tour returned to South Africa in 1896 to find a stronger and more competitive rugby scene growing. Captain for the tour was 1891 veteran Johnny Hammond and for the first time the tour included six Irish …


1891 South Africa

Captain: Bill Maclagen – Coach: E Ash

The 1891 tour to South Africa was the first tour officially undertaken by the RFU and was funded primarily by the Western Province union and Cape Colony Prime Minister Cecil Rhodes. Due to the backing from the RFU the tour was initially …


1888 Australia and New Zealand

Captain: Bob Seddon/Andrew Stoddart – Coach: A Shaw

The first recognised British and Irish Lions tour ever was over to Australia and New Zealand and the side was captained by Bob Seddon. Tragedy struck the tour when half way through, captain Bob Seddon was killed in a sculling accident on …