Lions all-time XV – blindside flanker

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 blindside flankers: 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 – blindside flanker

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 blindside flankers: 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 back row is arguably the area of the field where the Lions have most strength – and at blindside, there has been a wealth of talent through the ages.

Derek Quinnell and Dan Lydiate are two stand-out Welshmen while John O’Driscoll – a rugged Irishman –also warrants a mention but blindside flanker has traditionally been an English preserve.

Lawrence Dallaglio is fondly remembered as a No.8 by England fans who watched his iron-willed performances en route to the 2003 World Cup, but six years earlier it was in the No.6 jersey where he really impressed.

Fighting fire with fire, Dallaglio more than matched the physicality of the Springboks and he hammered home the message that the Lions would not be outmuscled, going to seal the series 2-1.

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In that series Richard Hill featured at openside but he would later develop into one of the greatest blindsides of the game – he was notoriously the one man that Sir Clive Woodward refused to drop from his England side.

In 2001 against Australia he was the man of the series until he was taken out by Nathan Grey in the second Test and as a result, the Lions collapsed. It’s often said about Hill that he is at his most conspicuous when absent and in 2001, that was certainly the case.

Going back a few years and, despite a partially dislocated shoulder Iron Mike Teague answered the call in the second and third Tests against the Wallabies in 1989 to give man of the match performances and help drag the series around. It truly was epic stuff from Gloucester’s finest.

And four years later another Englishman was the inspiration for the tourists, Ben Clarke almost dragging the Lions to victory over New Zealand with his relentless ball-carrying.

Earlier still and both Peter Dixon and Roger Uttley shined at blindside.

Dixon played in three of the 1971 Tests against New Zealand, scoring the try in the fourth Test draw having been re-instated after an injury to Quinnell, who had forced his way into side for the third Test.

Uttley meanwhile, was travelled as a lock in 1974 but switched to No.6 for the first time in his career and made such an impression that he stayed there for all four Tests against the Springboks, scoring a try for the unbeaten Tourists in the final Test.

Continuing the theme of English blindsides more recently is Tom Croft who ran riot against the Boks four years ago. His electric speed for a back-row earned him two tries in the opening defeat before the Lions lost the tour with the last kick in the second Test.

And Dan Lydiate also warrants a nod in his direction for his performances in the second two Tests this summer, launching himself at anything that moved with his trademark chop tackle. 

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