Lions Origins: Biggar and Davies join exclusive 100 club

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Jonathan Davies and Dan Biggar celebrate winning

Dan Biggar and Jonathan Davies joined the exclusive century club on Saturday.

The British & Irish Lions tourists both brought up their 100th international caps in style in Cardiff, playing decisive roles as Wales defeated Scotland 20-17 at Principality Stadium.

It was a fitting way for two incredible competitors to mark such a milestone, with both men leaving everything on the field as the defending champions returned to winning ways.

Biggar, who was captaining his country for the first time at home in the Welsh capital, now has 97 caps for Wales in addition to his three caps for the Lions earned on the 2021 Tour.

Meanwhile, Davies came off the bench to deliver a trademark defensive display for his 94th Wales cap – taking him to 100 internationals with his six Lions Test caps over two Tours.

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Duhan van der Merwe is tackled by Jonathan Davies and Dan Biggar

Biggar and Davies take the tally of Wales players who have played 100 internationals to ten, joining the illustrious company of Alun Wyn Jones, Gethin Jenkins, Stephen Jones, George North, Martyn Williams, Gareth Thomas, Adam Jones and Leigh Halfpenny.

But while their incredible careers have seen them reach the very summit of the game, their achievements would not have been possible without their Lions Origin Clubs.

Biggar’s rise from Gorseinon

Born in Morriston, Swansea, Dan Biggar’s rugby journey saw him come through the Ospreys development pathway having attended Gowerton Comprehensive School.

His love of the game was forged at Gorseinon, rising through the ranks alongside fellow alumnus and Lion Leigh Halfpenny as his talent saw him bumped up an age group.

British & Irish Lions profile: Lion #821 Dan Biggar

Gorseinon coach Rob Steele said: “I coached Leigh from the age of seven and Dan from the age of 11. You notice their talent from the very beginning.

“Leigh had tremendous pace but with Dan, he had so much intelligence on the field and was always in control of situations, even back then.

“I always believe that you have to start playing at eight to learn your key rugby skills but Dan was so developed when he joined us and we had to move him up an age group straight away.

“Eventually, I also started working as a coach for Swansea and District, which meant that I was looking at players from all across the area, and that’s when I realised how good these guys were.

Dan Biggar

“Those two were part of a side that won pretty much every game – barring one or two slip-ups – and being so successful during their development paid off when you look at where they’ve got to now.”

With Gorseinon a feeder club to Ospreys, Biggar went on to represent Swansea before making his debut for the Welsh region as an 18-year-old in an EDF Energy Cup semi-final win.

And it was not long before Biggar announced himself on the international stage, making his debut for Wales aged 19 against Canada in 2008 having earned age-grade honours for his country.

Over the next four years he would amass just ten caps, including five from the bench, but Biggar showed his tenacity in relentless worth ethic in his bid to claim the No.10 jersey.

Lions recognised with caps by 1888 Club

He finally got his chance during the 2013 Six Nations campaign, starting all five games at fly-half and steering Wales to a memorable Championship triumph.

A regular in the Wales squad ever since, Biggar was also selected for his first Tour with the Lions to New Zealand in 2017, kicking 35 points across his five appearances.

While he missed out on a Test cap against the All Blacks, he put that right four years later by starting all three matches of the series against the Springboks.

And although the Tour ended in defeat, Biggar was one of Warren Gatland’s standout performers, kicking four penalties and a conversion in the first Test at the Lions won 22-17.

Whitland RFC wonder Davies

From his formative years, it was clear to everyone who watched him in action that Jonathan “Fox” Davies possessed the size, power and talent to reach the rugby summit.

Born to Welsh parents in Solihull, Davies moved at an early age with his family to Bancyfelin, Carmarthenshire, where he attended Dyffryn Taf Comprehensive School.

It was also where Davies cut his teeth at Whitland RFC before making his way through the ranks at Llanelli, with his talent earning the academy starlet a professional contact at just 18.

He made his debut for the Welsh region against Northampton in August 2006 before playing in the Wales Under-20s squad of 2008 alongside the likes of Biggar, Halfpenny and Sam Warburton.

“Physically, he was incredible, really,” said Patrick Horgan, Under-20s coach at the time. “He was beating some of the senior players when it came to strength and power at the age of 18 or 19.

Jonathan Davies with his family after the game

“It was pretty obvious that he was going to go a long way. Within a year of the Junior World Cup [2008], he was getting a senior cap.”

Davies received his first call up to the Wales squad for their tour of North America during the summer of 2009 and he made his debut in the first match against Canada.

He was subsequently named in the squad of Wales’ 2009 autumn internationals, making appearances against Samoa and Argentina, before becoming a regular in the 2011 Six Nations.

A year later, his partnership with Jamie Roberts would prove to be pivotal to Wales securing the Grand Slam before helping his country retain the Championship title in 2013.

British & Irish Lions profile: Lion #778 Jonathan Davies

His form saw him earn selection for his first Tour with the Lions later that year, joining forces with Brian O’Driscoll in Australia for the first two Tests against the Wallabies.

Davies was then reunited with Roberts for the third and final Test in Sydney, helping the tourists prevail 41-16 to clinch a famous victory Down Under – the Lions’ first series win since 1997.

Following the Tour, Davies moved from Scarlets to Clermont Auvergne before returning to Llanelli for the 2016/17 season and being selected for his second Tour with the Lions in 2017.

Davies played every minute of the three Tests against the All Blacks, producing outstanding displays both in defence and attack, as the Lions secured an historic 1-1 series draw.

Playing five matches in total on the 2017 Tour, the centre left New Zealand as the third Welshman in a row to be named Lions Player of the Series after Roberts in 2009 and Halfpenny in 2013.

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