Fans choose top 10

We've all had our say on who should be starring for the Lions this summer but what about voting for the greatest Lions of all time? [more]

Fans choose top 10

We’ve all had our say on who should be starring for the Lions this summer but what about voting for the greatest Lions of all time?

That’s exactly what happened at the latest HSBC Legends of the Lions dinners in Cardiff and Dublin.

Hundreds of fans enjoyed the events at City Hall and the Guinness Storehouse as the build up to the 125th anniversary adventure in Hong Kong and Australia continues to gather pace.

Supporters chose their top 10 Welsh Lions and their top 10 Irish Lions, with the results prompting plenty of banter during and after the dinner.

Gareth Edwards unsurprisingly took top spot in Wales but Brian O’Driscoll pipped Willie John McBride to the accolade in Ireland, perhaps because the 2001, 2005 and 2009 tours are fresh in the mind and the 2013 trip south is already starting to flood the consciousness.

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The Welsh list was heavily dominated by stars of the seventies, with Edwards’ halfback partners from the victorious 1971 and 1974 tours named at number three and four in Barry John and Phil Bennett respectively.

JPR Williams, who played in all eight Tests in New Zealand in ’71 and South Africa in ’74, finished second, with 2013 Lions Chairman Gerald Davies at number five.

Edwards was on hand to accept the accolade and talk all things Lions in the second HSBC Legends of the Lions dinner and the ‘world’s greatest player’ was joined by fellow stars Scott Quinnell and Graham Price.

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Gareth Edwards was voted Wales' premier Lion, with Scott Quinnell also in the top 10

In Ireland, Mike Gibson, Fergus Slattery and Tony O’Reilly completed the top five, with one of the standout figures from the last tour to Australia named at number six in Keith Wood.

Slattery, a tourist in ’71 and an ever-present in the Test team three years later, spoke on stage at the Dublin dinner and he was understandably delighted to have been recognised for his efforts in the famous red jersey.

“It’s been a brilliant evening, and to be voted into the top 10 Irish legends is a fantastic honour,” said Slattery.

“You could feel the pride and delight of the fans being surrounded by not only Lions legends of the past, but also by some who may join them in the future.”

Slattery was joined in Dublin by double Lions Donal Lenihan – a key figure on the 1989 tour of Oz – and Ollie Campbell, as well as 2005 Test hooker Shane Byrne and 2009 No8 Jamie Heaslip.

Tour manager Andy Irvine and head coach Warren Gatland were in attendance in both Dublin and Cardiff and they spoke openly about their memories of past tours and their hopes for their class of 2013.

More of the same is set to follow in Edinburgh on April 18 and in London on May 3 and places are available to enjoy both events.

The Edinburgh event takes place at The Sheraton Grand, with Irvine and former Lions captain Gavin Hastings the guest speakers.

The five-dinner series began in London on February 15 and the series comes to a close in the same city at The Brewery, less than four weeks before the Lions kick off their latest tour against the Barbarians in Hong Kong on June 1.

For more information or to book your place, please click here.

The top 10 Welsh Lions from the HSBC Legends of the Lions dinner in Cardiff

1) Gareth Edwards
2) JPR Williams
3) Barry John
4) Phil Bennett
5) Gerald Davies
6) Mervyn Davies
7) Scott Gibbs
8) Ieuan Evans
9 = Neil Jenkins and Scott Quinnell

The top 10 Irish Lions from the HSBC Legends of the Lions dinner in Dublin

1) Brian O’Driscoll
2) Willie John McBride
3) Mike Gibson
4) Fergus Slattery
5) Tony O’Reilly
6) Keith Wood
7) Ollie Campbell
8) Jackie Kyle
9) Syd Millar
10) Paul O’Connell

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