British & Irish Lions have to be the best of the best on the field of play but, as Ian McLauchlan demonstrated in 2010, so many great players can also go on to become great figureheads in the game.
‘Mighty Mouse’ became the 10th Scottish player to have toured with the Lions to become president of the SRU when he was elected last summer and continued a line that was first started by another great Scot, the 1891 Lions tour captain William MacLagan.
MacLagan’s men set the standard for future Lions teams as they won all 20 of their matches in South Africa, including an unofficial final outing against Stellenbosch, and won the first Test series played by both South Africa and the Lions 3-0.
The Scottish three-quarter made his international debut as a teenager against England in 1878 and went on to win 26 caps for his country. By the time he was invited to lead the Lions he was recognised as one of the best players around and only missed one of the 20 tour games.
He was invited to become the 21st SRU President in 1894 at the age of only 36 and served for two terms. He also sat on the IRB for three years.
A second Scot on the 1891 tour, Robert MacMillan, became SRU President in 1900 before two Irish internationals from the 1896 return tour to South Africa, Andrew Clinch and James Sealy, became the figureheads of their Union in 1904 and 1927 respectively.
The 1904 tour party to Australia and New Zealand provided the first of five Welsh players to become President of the WRU in scrum half Tommy Vile. That squad also contained Guy’s Hospital centre Pat McEvedy, who eventually returned to his native New Zealand and became president of the NZRU in 1934.
The 1959 tour to New Zealand provided seven Presidents from the playing and management ranks – Niall Brophy (IRFU), Ronnie Dawson (IRFU), Dickie Jeeps (RFU), Syd Millar (IRFU), Noel Murphy (IRFU), Ken Smith (SRU) and manager Alf Wilson (SRU). Included among the six players from that tour is Syd Millar, who went on to coach the Lions in 1974, manage them in 1980 and become chairman of the IRB between 2003-07.
The last Lions player prior to McLauchlan to be honoured with the presidency of his country was none other than Andy Irvine – the man who has been chosen to manage the 125th anniversary Lions tour to Australia in 2013.
Lions as Presidents
|William Cail (Manager)||1910||RFU||1892-94|
|James Baxter (Manager)||1930||RFU||1926-27|
|Bernard Hartley (Manager)||1938||RFU||1947-48|
|Ginger Osborne (Manager)||1950||RFU||1956-57|
|Danny Davies (Assistant Man)||1955||WRU||1961-62|
|Jack Siggins (Manager)||1955||IRFU||1962-63|
|Alf Wilson (Manager)||1959||SRU||1972-73|
|Dod Burrell (Manager)||1977||SRU||1985-86|
|Clive Rowlands (Manager)||1989||WRU||1989-90|
|* Tour captains|
Lions as secretaries
|Walter Rees (Manager)||1910||WRU||1896-1947|