He took charge on their 35 match, five month tour of Australia, New Zealand and Canada in 1966. His official title was 'assistant manager' and the captain, Michael Campbell-Lamerton, still had ultimate responsibility for preparing the side, but it was at least a nod in the right direction of the need for a coach.
On Tuesday, 4 September, 2013 Lions tour manager Andy Irvine will announce the Head Coach for next summer's 125th anniversary tour to Australia. Whereas the first seven coaches had to look after everything on their own, the new man will have a highly qualified team around him down under next year.
Where Robbins led, seven further ex-Test Lions have followed down the years. In fact, only Carwyn James (1971) and Graham Henry (2001) of Lions coaches were not tourists themselves during their playing careers.
Only Carwyn James (1971), Syd Millar (1974) and Ian McGeechan (1989 and 1997) have returned having won a Test series. Can the 2013 Head Coach deliver the goods? Time will tell!
British & Irish Lions Head Coaches
1966: John Robbins (Wales)
1968: Ronnie Dawson (Ireland)
1971: Carwyn James (Wales)
1974: Syd Millar (Ireland)
1977: John Dawes (Wales)
1980: Noel Murphy (Ireland)
1983: Jim Telfer (Scotland)
1989: Ian McGeechan (Scotland)
1993: Ian McGeechan (Scotland)
1997: Ian McGeechan (Scotland)
2001: Graham Henry (New Zealand)
2005: Clive Woodward (England)
2009: Ian McGeechan (Scotland)