So far, the 1980 Lions head the list in terms of tour-ending injuries, with a total of eight players having had their adventure ended prematurely for that reason and a further squad member returning home due to a family illness.
Those disruptions came on an 18-match tour, however, almost double the amount of games the 2009 Lions will take part in and 14 more than they have played so far.
Nine players were ruled out in 1980, including Mike Slemen who went home due to a family illness. Injuries seemed to follow the Lions wherever they went and, if it ever appeared that their luck might be about to change, the situation soon reverted to type.
The 1980 Lions were robbed of the services of Rodney O'Donnell (neck), David Richards (shoulder), Gareth Davies (shoulder and knee), Terry Holmes (shoulder and knee), Stuart Lane (knee), Phil Blakeway (ribs), Colin Patterson (knee) and Fran Cotton (suspected heart trouble) yet they somehow won each and every one of their 14 provincial fixtures and a managed a final Test victory over the Springboks having pushed their opponents mightily close in the previous three internationals.
To make matters worse, Lane never played international rugby again, while Oâ00Donnell was even more unfortunate in that his injury ended his entire playing career at the tender age of just 23.
The Lions of 1980 certainly picked up more than their fair share of misfortune, yet it seems as though the current crop of tourists may be about to take on their unwanted mantle of the â00unluckiest Lionsâ00.
Colin Patterson (centre) was the last of nine Lions withdrawals in 1980
If things had begun badly in 1980 with Andy Irvineâ00s delayed departure and Laneâ00s withdrawal less than a minute into the tour opener against Eastern Province, the class of 2009 endured an even more disruptive start.
Cardiff and Wales wing Lane may have only lasted 50 seconds in Port Elizabeth but at least he made it to South Africa. Four of Ian McGeechanâ00s 2009 Lions could only dream of getting that far.
Tomas Oâ00Leary, Tom Shanklin, Alan Quinlan and Jerry Flannery all failed to reach the Republic as their tours came to an end even before they had begun.
Ireland scrum-half Oâ00Leary was the first to experience Lions heartache just three days after he was announced in McGeechanâ00s original 37-man squad. The 25-year-old broke his left ankle during Munsterâ00s Magners League win over the Scarlets at Thomond Park as he saw elation turn to frustration in the space of 72 hours.
Wales centre Shanklin experienced a similar fate less than a fortnight later as he witnessed his hopes of taking on the Springboks dashed with another untimely injury.
With the Cardiff Blues needing to secure Heineken Cup qualification for next season, Shanklin turned out against the Newport Gwent Dragons only to sustain a shoulder injury that subsequently required reconstructive surgery. The injury was doubly galling as the former Saracens star had already seen his 2005 Lions dream end in disappointment when a knee injury prevented him from claiming a probable Test place for the second international against the All Blacks.
Tom Shanklin's tour chances came to an end during a club match in May
Next to taste the misery of being named in the Lions party only to miss out on all the action was Ireland flanker Quinlan. The Munsterman was the surprise inclusion in the initial squad, with his strength of character and never-say-die attitude seemingly playing a big part in him edging out Tom Croft and Ryan Jones for a tour spot.
Unfortunately for Quinlan, he would never be given the opportunity to prove that his selection was an inspired choice as an uncharacteristic indiscretion led to his removal from the squad shortly after the Lions began their pre-tour preparations at Pennyhill Park.
Quinlan was found guilty of making contact with the eye area of Leinster captain and former international colleague Leo Cullen during the Heineken Cup semi-final at Croke Park, an offence for which he received a 12-week ban. The oldest member of the 2009 Lions squad appealed against his suspension while the Lions were in camp but to no avail. Like Oâ00Leary and Shanklin, his Lions tour was over before it had ever got started but, unlike the aforementioned pair, Quinlanâ00s age means he is now unlikely to ever experience life as a Lion.
By some cruel twist of fate, the fourth player to be ruled out of the tour was yet another Munsterman. Having seen a record-breaking eight players from the province selected for Britain and Irelandâ00s elite, the former European champions soon found their contingent reduced to five.
This time, injury was once more the reason behind the withdrawal, although the latest setback took place in a Lions training session rather than during a club match. Flannery was the unlucky player on this occasion as he damaged an elbow exactly a month after realising his ambition of being announced as a British & Irish Lion.
The Ireland hooker had been the pre-tour favourite to wear the Lions No2 jersey and his absence led many critics to question the touristsâ00 chances of testing the Springboks without one of the Six Nationsâ00 stand-out forwards.
Ireland's Jerry Flannery suffered an elbow injury during training with the Lions
Flanneryâ00s withdrawal was at least the last permanent setback before setting off for South Africa, although it wasnâ00t to be the last injury disruption suffered in the UK. Leigh Halfpenny may have arrived at the training camp with the rest of the squad but he failed to leave the country with the remainder of his colleagues. Instead, he returned home to Cardiff to undergo rehabilitation on a quad injury with the assistance of the Cardiff Blues medical team.
While a total of 36 other 2009 Lions were flying to South Africa and then setting up camp in their new surroundings, the youngest Lion since Keith Jarrett was back in the Welsh capital doing all he could to get back to full fitness.
Halfpennyâ00s hard work and determination soon paid dividends and it wasnâ00t long before the 20-year-old was out in the Republic and back with the Lions. His arrival in South Africa even appeared to signal a change in fortunes for McGeechanâ00s men as they battled through the first three matches of the tour without losing a single player to long-term injury.
Such an optimistic outlook didnâ00t last long, however, either for Halfpenny himself or for the Lions as a whole.
Just four days after making his Lions debut against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, it was announced that Halfpenny had suffered a reoccurrence of his thigh injury and that his tour had come to agonising end. Despite all his efforts to regain his place on tour following his initial setback, Halfpenny had failed in his ultimate ambition of earning a Lions Test place, and through no fault of his own.
Leigh Halfpenny became the sixth casualty of the 2009 Lions tour
To make matters worse for the Lions, Halfpennyâ00s prognosis resulted in the second withdrawal in the space of less than 24 hours.
The young wingâ00s heartbreak had been preceded by that of Ulster flanker Stephen Ferris who tore a medial ligament in his knee during training just two days after being named man-of-the-match in the Lionsâ00 26-24 win on June 6.
Ferris had been sent for a scan following Mondayâ00s incident and the diagnosis had not been what anyone had wanted to hear. The upshot was that one of the real bright lights of the early stages of the tour would play no further part as the Lions continue their build up to the three-match Test series beginning on June 20.
â00Itâ00s probably a four-week injury and Iâ00d be really fighting to get fit for maybe the last Test match,â0 explained Ferris.
â00Itâ00s just one of these things. It was just training. I was doing a bit of tackling and I twisted my knee. A couple of guys fell on me and I heard a small pop on the inside of my knee. It was my MCL and a grade two tear.â0
The injuries to Ferris and Halfpenny have seen the total number of Lions withdrawals rise to half a dozen just seven weeks after McGeechan announced his first-choice touring party at a Heathrow hotel.
Add to that the minor injuries to Andy Powell, Keith Earls, Luke Fitzgerald, Riki Flutey and Martyn Williams, all of which have seen those players miss valuable game time, and one could be forgiven for thinking that this yearâ00s Lions are in some way cursed.
It certainly seems as though fate is conspiring against the 2009 tourists but McGeechan has insisted that spirit in the camp remains high. Despite their wretched run of injuries, the Lions still have their hearts set on securing series victory on June 27 or July 4.
Hereâ00s hoping that enforced withdrawals play no further part in increasing the size of that challenge. Superseding the 1980 Lions as the unluckiest tourists to have left theses shores is one record the 2009 Lions will be more than happy to avoid.