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Lion #557 Slemen passes away aged 69

Lion #557 Slemen passes away aged 69

British & Irish Lions winger Mike Slemen, who toured South Africa in 1980, has sadly died at the age of 69.

Having made his England debut against Ireland in 1976, the native Liverpudlian was part of the Lions squad that faced the Springboks four years later and lost the Test series 3-1, although they did win all 14 of their non-international matches on Tour.

Slemen started the first Test in Durban – a narrow 26-22 defeat – on Tour captained by Sir Bill Beaumont, who also captained Slemen for England, and paid tribute to his ex-teammate.

“He was a great rugby player and a great all-round sportsman,” said Beaumont. “He gave so much to the game in his playing days, as a club and England coach and as Director of Sport at Merchant Taylors School, Crosby.

“He will be very much missed as someone whose generous spirit and outstanding athleticism graced our sport. Our thoughts are with his wife, Eileen, and his family.”

Slemen was England’s most-capped winger when his international career came to an end in 1984, having made 31 appearances for his country, and in his youth he was both a talented cricketer and footballer.

He had helped England win their first Five Nations Grand Slam in 23 years in 1980 before becoming Lion #557 later that year.

After his retirement from playing, Slemen coached Orrell RFC, and briefly England in the 1990s under the management of Geoff Cooke, as well as being head of sport at the highly-regarded Merchant Taylors’ School in Crosby.

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