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Andy Irvine

Andy Irvine

Three tours; nine Tests, 1974-80

Three tours; nine Tests, 1974-80

(1974: 2 Tests; 1977: 4 Tests; 1980: 3 Tests)

Although it was the goal-kicking of Andy Irvine that earned him club, country, Lions and world points-scoring records, it was his genius with the ball in hand for which his career is principally remembered.

The dashing Scot actually began his Lions Test career on the wing, coming into the 1974 side for the final two internationals after Billy Steele lost fitness and form. The then 23-year-old was kept out of the No.15 jersey by JPR Williams at the peak of his powers but still contributed 156 points to the tour, a record tally for a Lion in South Africa .

In 1977 , Irvine was the danger man of the British Isles back division and showed off his full repertoire of visionary attacking skills, his jinking, swerving runs carving up even the meanest New Zealand defences.

The records he put his name to on this tour were for most points in a Lions match in New Zealand and the highest number of tries by a Lions full-back in a single game.

For the first, he equalled Malcolm Thomas's 1959 benchmark of 25 against Hanan Shield Districts with a classy display crowned by a long-range solo try in which he darted and shimmied past opponent after opponent to score. The second he took outright by touching down five times and King Country-Waganui.

That might have been Irvine 's last Lions tour as he was stood down from the 1980 at the 11 th hour when it was decided the hamstring problem he was carrying made him too big a risk to take to South Africa

However, that tour was so bedevilled by injury that he found himself summoned as a replacement halfway through and made eight appearances, including each of the final three Tests.

Fittingly, the man who retired as international rugby's all-time leading points-scorer ended his Lions career with one of the tries that helped the tourists win the final Test.

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