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Bill Beaumont

Bill Beaumont

Two tours, 7 Tests, 1977-80

Two tours, 7 Tests, 1977-80

(1977: 3 Test; 1980: 4 Tests)
Manager 2005

Legend has it that when Bill Beaumont arrived in New Zealand in 1977 as a replacement for Nigel Horton, Willie Duggan sidled up to him at the airport and whispered: "If I were you, Bill, I'd flick off home on the next plane."

On one of the toughest, coldest and wettest of all Lions tours, taking Duggan's advice might have appealed to some. Typically, though, Beaumont preferred to put his shoulder to the wheel and grafted his way into the Test side in just three matches by devouring possession at kick-off and the front of the lineout.

That was no mean feat as, despite losing the series 3-1, the Lions boasted one of the strongest packs ever seen, so powerful that New Zealand were reduced to packing down with just three men in the fourth Test.

Two years in to his 34-cap England career, Beaumont 's omission from the original 1977 party raised a few eyebrows. Three years later, the Lancastrian's selection as captain of the Lions tour to South Africa surprised no-one at all.

The Fylde lock had just led England to their first Grand Slam in 23 years and was a popular captain with his players, opponents and public alike.

Beaumont trained for the tour like never before, determined that there would never be any question over his worth in the side and knowing that under the South African microscope, "I could not afford to show any weakness".

And nor did he as a leader, whose record of a 3-1 series defeat does little justice to his ability as either a captain or player.

As in 1977, the tourists' pack dominated their opponents in the tight, but here they lacked the cutting edge of South Africa in the backs, as well as being hampered by an injury list enormous even by Lions standards.

Beaumont at least marked himself out as one of the worthier Lions captains, and will open another chapter in 2005 as manager of the tour to New Zealand.

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