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British & Irish Lions captains: Gavin Hastings

British & Irish Lions captains: Gavin Hastings

Few rugby players can reel off as many achievements as Gavin Hastings – but the Scotland legend insists no honour bestowed on him was greater than the British and Irish Lions captaincy.

Few rugby players can reel off as many achievements as Gavin Hastings – but the Scotland legend insists no honour bestowed on him was greater than the British and Irish Lions captaincy.

Hastings was always destined for greatness. He skippered the first Scottish schoolboys’ side to win on English soil, starred for Cambridge University and helped inspire Scotland to the Grand Slam in 1990.

The full-back’s story in red started in 1989, making history alongside younger sibling Scott as the first brothers to appear for the Lions, and he scored the crucial try in the second Test to level up the series in Australia.

The tourists eventually returned home triumphant and Hastings’ star only rose in the ensuing four years – leading to his appointment as skipper for the 1993 tour at the age of 31.

He very nearly presided over one of the Lions’ greatest ever triumphs: cruelly denied 20-18 by the All Blacks in the first Test and levelling the series brilliantly 20-9 in the second, before defeat in the decider.

Hastings was again unflappable with the boot – collecting a series-high 101 points after his 66 in Australia – and he admits the captaincy pushed his abilities to the limits.

“Without doubt, the pinnacle of my rugby career was to be selected as captain of the British & Irish Lions on their 1993 tour to New Zealand,” Hastings said in Behind The Lions.

“It was something that gave me a marvellous sense of personal fulfilment, but at the same time I was also aware of the enormous honour that the selectors had conferred on me, by recognising that I was the best man to lead the Lions. It was, therefore, an extremely unnerving responsibility and a severe challenge.

“It was a great credit to the Lions that we came to the third and deciding Test match with the series square at one-each. The highlight of the tour was the second Test victory in Wellington, but it was extremely difficult to raise our game to that level two weeks in a row.”

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