Lions lose another 1955 star

The 1955 British & Irish Lions have lost another tourist following the death of England back row man Tug Wilson. [more]

Lions lose another 1955 star

The 1955 British & Irish Lions have lost another tourist following the death of England back row man Tug Wilson.

The larger than life Dyson Stayt Wilson became the 15th player lost to Robin Thompson’s famous side when he died at the age of 84 last month. Born in Wilderness in South Africa, he died in west Cornwall, where he had lived for more than 40 years.

Wilson, who was capped eight times by England before being selected for the Lions tour, made 15 appearances in South Africa and scored three tries. He failed to break into the Test side, but played a big role in the success of the tour.

He moved to England with his South African parents when he was eight and attended both King Edward V11 Grammar School in Stafford and Rydal School. He then joined the Metropolitan Police Force and played for them, Harlequins and London Counties.

He had to battle against a strong cast of back row forwards in the Lions party and was unable to overtake England team mate Reg Higgins, Scotland’s Jim Greenwood and the Welsh duo of Russ Robins and Clem Thomas out of the test reckoning.

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Nobody ever doubted his potential or commitment, but his critics reckoned he was too light to take on the much heavier Springbok forwards. Not that Wilson would ever concede on that point, claiming he was as heavy – around 13 stones – as the world heavyweight boxing champion Rocky Marciano.

His style of play earned him a number of offers to remain in his native South Africa and play top level rugby after the Lions tour, but he went back to the Met before switching to Rhodesia in December 1955. He ran two very popular restaurants in Salisbury, The Curry House and The Bombay Duck, but drew some disapproval from the Rhodesian Prime Minster Ian Smith's regime because the latter was unsegregated.

Wilson returned to England in 1969, settling in west Cornwall where he ran a pottery business. His life-long passion for sailing came more and more to the fore after his return and he sailed the Atlantic and into the Pacific on two occasions.

Back on dry land he moved his family to a small farm above Kennack Sands, near St Keverne, where they raised beef cattle. But even in his seventies his lust for life and adventure remained and with his wife Diana he once again headed around the Atlantic Ocean.

Near disaster struck while heading from Brazil to South Africa when his vessel lost its mast in mid-Atlantic and Wilson and his wife spent 38 days edging slowly southwards on a tiny jury rig sail. They aimed for the island of Tristan da Cunha, knowing that if they went off course they would head into the Antarctic waters.

THE SURVIVING 1955 LIONS
Phil Davies, Gareth Griffiths, Haydn Morris, Tony O’Reilly, Cecil Pedlow, Frank Sykes, Doug Baker, Dickie Jeeps, Trevor Lloyd, Cliff Morgan, Hugh McLeod , Ernie Michie, Bryn Meredith, Courtenay Meredith, Billy Williams, Russell Robins

TUG WILSON’S LIONS CAREER

22/06/1955 Western Transvaal 9 – 6 British Lions
25/06/1955 Griqualand West 14 – 24 British Lions
02/07/1955 Orange Free State 3 – 31 British Lions
05/07/1955 South West Africa 0 – 9 British Lions
09/07/1955 Western Province 3 – 11 British Lions
16/07/1955 Eastern Province 20 – 0 British Lions
20/07/1955 North-East Districts 6 – 34 British Lions
27/07/1955 Rhodesia 14 – 27 British Lions
13/08/1955 Boland 0 – 11 British Lions (Try)
16/08/1955 Western Province Unis 17 – 20 British Lions (Try)
24/08/1955 Eastern Transvaal 17 – 17 British Lions
10/09/1955 Natal 8 – 11 British Lions (Try)
14/09/1955 Junior Springboks 12 – 15 British Lions
17/09/1955 Border 14 – 12 British Lions
28/09/1955 East Africa 0 – 61 British Lions
 

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