Four familiar faces from the 2001 British and Irish Lions tour of Australia will be in New Zealand for this year’s World Cup.
Two look set to play in the 2011 showpiece, while a further two will be watching from the stands as coaches of their respective nations.
All four come from the northern-hemisphere and in-fact there is only one Australian player from that series who is still playing the club game at the highest level.
We take a look at the two teams that faced each other in the first test in 2001 and review where they have been since and where they are now.
British and Irish Lions team (v Australia, Saturday 30 June 2001)
15. Matt Perry – The Bath full-back played all three tests for the Lions in 2001 but never played international rugby after the tour. He retired from the club game in 2004 and now works as a management consultant.
14. Dafydd James – The Welsh wing played in the 2003 and 2007 World Cups for his country and reached 48 caps before calling time on his international career. James played for Welsh regions Celtic Warriors, Scarlets and Cardiff Blues before ending his playing days with Sale Sharks in 2010.
13. Brian O’Driscoll – O’Driscoll has become one of the world’s greats and played for the Lions on two more tours in 2005 and 2009. Currently on 112 International caps, O’Driscoll will be travelling south later this year with Ireland to the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
12. Rob Henderson – Henderson helped Toulon rise through the French ranks before returning to the UK to play for Esher. He now works (and is highly regarded) as an after-dinner speaker.
11. Jason Robinson – The former Rugby League legend stared for the Lions in Australia in 2001 and went onto play in two World Cup Finals for England (lifting the trophy once in 2003). Robinson retired in 2007 and became head coach of Sale in 2009/10. Last year Robinson announced a return to playing with Division Two side Flyde.
10. Johnny Wilkinson – The England fly-half shot to world fame in 2003, as his extra-time drop-goal won England the 2003 Rugby World Cup. Wilkinson also played in the 2007 Final in France and is currently in the England training squad for this year’s tournament in New Zealand. He left Newcastle in 2009 and moved to Toulon where his career has blossomed.
9. Rob Howley – Howley will also be heading to his year’s World Cup, but will be in the stands rather than on the field, as he is the attack coach for Wales. The former scrum-half left Cardiff in 2002 to join London Wasps and he retired in 2004.
The 2001 Lions front-row
1. Tom Smith – Smith retired from International rugby in 2005 and hung up his playing boots with Northampton in 2009. He immediately became forwards coach at Edinburgh under Rob Moffat.
2. Keith Wood – The former Munster and Harlequins hooker retired after the 2003 Rugby World Cup. He now works as a broadcaster and journalist and was inducted into the Munster hall of fame in 2007.
3. Phil Vickery – The Cornish-born tight-head was forced to retire through injury in 2010. Vickery played in two World Cup finals and captained his country. He made the move from Gloucester to London Wasps in 2006.
4. Martin Johnson – Former British and Irish Lions captain Martin Johnson, led England to World Cup glory in 2003 as captain. Now as team manager (since 2008) he will be hoping to drive them to glory again at this year’s tournament. Johnson retired from International rugby in 2003 and played his last game for Leicester in 2005.
5. Danny Grewcock – Grewcock played his final game for Bath in May after a decade with the West Country club. The second-row toured in 2005 to New Zealand with the Lions and played his last game for England in 2007.
6. Martin Corry – A late-call up to the 2001 Lions squad, Corry immediately impressed coach Graham Henry and started the first test. He went on to captain England and retired in 2009.
7. Richard Hill – The 2003 World Cup winner toured with the Lions again in 2005 to New Zealand and retired in 2008 due to an ongoing injury.
8. Scott Quinnell – The powerful Welsh number 8, who scored a try in the first test in 2001 retired from International rugby in 2002 and played his last game for the Scarlets in 2005.
15. Chris Latham – After amassing 99 appearances for the Queensland Reds, Latham made the move to Worcester in England in 2008, where he played for two years before hanging up his boots.
14. Andrew Walker – The dual international returned to rugby league in recent years and has dropped down through the ranks and is still playing for Goodna Eagles.
13. Daniel Herbert – After making the move to Perpignan in 2003 Herbert’s career was cut short after a serious neck injury just seven matches into his time in France. He underwent an operation in 2004 and subsequently retired.
12. Nathan Grey – The former Wallaby centre returned to Australia in 2010 to become skills coach at the Melbourne Rebels after a stint playing in Japan.
11. Joe Roff – Roff retired from the professional game in 2004 but made the headlines once again in 2007, playing for Oxford against Cambridge in the annual varsity match at Twickenham. (Oxford lost 15 v 6).
10. Steve Larkham – After a three year spell playing for Ricoh Black Rams, Larkham returned to the Brumbies as attack coach in November 2010.
9. George Gregan – The 139-times capped scrum-half, had a spell in Europe with Toulon before retiring in 2003.
George Gregan in action during the 2001 tour
1. Nick Stiles – The loose-head made his International debut in this defeat and went onto make 12 appearances for his country. His last outing was against Ireland at Lansdowne Road in November 2002.
2. Jeremy Paul – The Brumbies star retired from the game after a short spell with English Premiership side Gloucester in 2008.
3. Glenn Panoho – Whangarei born Panoho made his debut in 1998 and played his last test in 2003.
4. Dave Griffin – The former Australian vice-captain retired from professional rugby in 2004.
5. John Eales – Australia’s most successful captain, lifted two world cup’s before calling time on his career. He now runs his own business and is a published author.
6. Owen Finegan – Finegan spent time at Newcastle, Leinster and Leicester in the Northern Hemisphere before returning down-under in 2008 to take up the position of assistant coach at the Brumbies.
7. George Smith – This summer signalled the end of a two-year spell with Toulon in France for Smith. The former Aussie openside, who holds the record as the youngest player to reach 100 international caps will ply his trade in Japan next season.
8. Toutai Kefu – After playing for Kubota Spears in Japan, Kefu returned to Australia to coach in the Queensland Premier League.