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Bryn Meredith

Three tours, eight Tests, 1955-62

Three tours, eight Tests, 1955-62

(1955: 4 Tests; 1962: 4 Tests)

As the most mobile front row forward in 1950s British rugby, South African pitches were made for Bryn Meredith. The Wales hooker duly thrived on his two visits to the republic, playing in eight Tests and setting a record for most tries scored by a visiting player in his position.

Meredith made his international debut in 1954 and became a Lion the following season. Over the next eight years he missed only three games for Wales and completed a hat-trick of tours as a Lion. For the Newport hero and his Lions team-mates, that first adventure of 1955 was the most memorable as the tourists shared the Test series against South Africa 2-2 and Meredith scored his record six tries, including the pick of the second international in Cape Town.

The Lions lost, but their hooker enhanced his reputation by winning a crucial strike in the scrum and then having the pace to get himself among the three-quarters and pop up outside centre Phil Davies to take a scoring pass. While that high-profile try confirmed Meredith's sure handling and mobility in the loose, his opponents in the Springbok scrum could already vouch for his technical ability in the tight.

The then 24-year-old was a sharp striker of the ball, an athletic jumper at the front of the line-out and with Billy Williams and Courtenay Meredith (no relation) formed an all-Welsh front row for the Lions that proved a match for their bigger South African rivals.

In 1959, Meredith was a Lion again, but found himself in the unfortunate position of competing against tour captain Ronnie Dawson for a place in the Test team. Consequently, he finished as the only Lion not to appear in an international, although many judges felt he should have been selected for the final match of the series.

Captaincy of the team against the Junior All Blacks was a small consolation, but he never complained about his lot and even appeared as a flanker when injuries demanded on the Australian leg of the tour.

In 1962, Meredith was a live candidate for the tour captaincy himself, and although he missed out to Arthur Smith he added to his reputation in South Africa once more with another excellent tour capped by appearances in all four Tests. He retired at the end of that tour, having played eight Tests for the Lions, won 34 caps for Wales and been voted his country's sportsman of the year in his final season. He had made a then Welsh record equalling 41 appearances for the Lions.

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