Lions all-time XV – No.8

What would your dream British & Irish Lions XV of all-time look like? Here we look at the stand-out candidates at each position, with the next instalment of this series looking at the No.8s: tell us who you think should make the team, we'll add up the votes and publish the all-time Lions XV, as selected by the fans. [more]

Lions all-time XV – No.8

What would your dream British & Irish Lions XV of all-time look like? Here we look at the stand-out candidates at each position, with the next instalment of this series looking at the No.8s: tell us who you think should make the team, we’ll add up the votes and publish the all-time Lions XV, as selected by the fans.

The late Mervyn Davies was nicknamed ‘Merv the Swerve’ for his sleight of hand and dazzling feet on the rugby pitch, but the one thing the Lions legend also had a knack for was steering clear of losing.

The Wales captain lost just eight times with his country in 38 tests and his record was just as spectacular serving in the red of a Lions jersey.

Equally imperious in defence and attack, Davies put New Zealand to the sword in 1971 before another triumphant Tour in South Africa three years later – winning five times and losing just once in eight Tests overall.

The Welsh wizard was expected to lead the Lions to further glory in the Land of the Long White Cloud until a brain haemorrhage in 1976 for club side Swansea tragically ended his career.

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Lawrence Dallaglio is a Lion who could have matched Davies’ illustrious record if not for wretched luck with injuries.

Equally as comfortable at flanker, the versatile Dallaglio matched fire with fire to help the Lions outduel the Springboks in 1997.

However, Lions Tours not once but twice were cut short by injuries in 2001 and 2005, the Wasps legend being spurned the chance to leave an even more impressive legacy.

Before Dean Richards started collecting trophies as a coach he lined up as a No.8 – and a mighty fine one too.

A full-time policeman during his playing days, Richards kept the Australians in check in 1989 before narrowly losing out to the All Blacks four years later.

Jim Telfer has always made his presence known as a Lion, but no better than as a fulcrum at No.8 in the 1960s.

A fierce competitor – who prompted All Blacks hero Colin Meads to proclaim ‘he should have been one of ours’ in 1968 – the Scot took his leadership ability into Lions coaching roles in the 1980s and 1990s.

An honourable mention must also go to Tim Rodber for a fleeting but memorable effort at the heart of a Lions Tour.

The hits that Rodber and Scott Gibbs dished out to the Springboks in the first Test of 1997 are still reverberating around Cape Town.

And a generation prior, Willie Duggan ably took up Davies’ mantle in 1977 with an equally explosive impact in New Zealand.

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