2017/2013 Sam Warburton (Lion #800, Wales) v New Zealand & Australia
Sam Warburton joined a very exclusive club during the 2017 Tour to New Zealand, as he became only the second man to captain The British & Irish Lions twice.
He joined fellow Lions legend Martin Johnson in accomplishing that feat, but went one better than the former England lock, and stands as the only Lions captain in history to have avoided defeat on two Tours.
2017 Peter O’Mahony (Lion #832, Ireland) v New Zealand
Peter O’Mahony capped a magnificent return to form and fitness in 2017 by captaining the British & Irish Lions in the first Test against New Zealand.
The flanker, who had already captained Ireland and Munster, deputised for the injured Sam Warburton at Eden Park.
2013 Alun Wyn Jones (Lion #761, Wales) v Australia
Alun Wyn Jones left New Zealand in 2017 as the first player in the professional era to play in nine consecutive British & Irish Lions Tests after colossal performances in the drawn series against the All Blacks.
But his greatest hour in the famous red jersey came in Australia in 2013 when he captained the Lions in place of the injured Sam Warburton in the decisive third Test to seal a first series win in 16 years.
2009 Paul O’Connell (Lion #738, Ireland) v South Africa
Paul O’Connell has been an integral part of three Lions Tours (2005, 2009 & 2013) and was skipper on the 2009 Tour of South Africa.
Sir Ian McGeechan rewarded the Irish international with the armband for the Test squad – becoming the first Irish forward to lead the Lions against the Springboks since the great Willie John McBride in 1974.
Many applauded his leadership qualities as the reason for the Lions’ win in the third and final Test in Johannesburg against the Boks but they lost the series 2-1.
2005 Gareth Thomas (Lion #747, Wales) v New Zealand
Gareth Thomas is one of the most-capped Welsh players of all-time, making 100 appearances in all.
He was only selected for one Lions Tour, the 2005 trip to New Zealand and, following an injury to Brian O’Driscoll in the opening minutes of the first Test against New Zealand, was made captain for the second and third Tests, becoming the ninth Welsh skipper in Lions’ history.
2005 Brian O’Driscoll (Lion #697, Ireland) v New Zealand
Brian O’Driscoll is one of only three players to have gone on four British & Irish Lions Tours.
The second most capped international player in history announced himself on to the world stage at the age of 22 in the 2001 Tour of Australia with a world-class try in the first Test victory.
He went on to captain the Lions in the 2005 Tour but his Test series was ended prematurely by injury.
2005 Michael Owen (Lion #726, Wales) v Argentina
Michael Owen made his British & Irish Lions debut against Argentina in 2005, when he captained the side, and played six games during the Tour to New Zealand that year.
The match against the Pumas was the first Lions Test to take place outside the touring country – with the game played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff – and Owen led the team to a 25-25 draw from the No.8 position.
2001/1997 Martin Johnson (Lion #658, England) v Australia & South Africa
Martin Johnson made history on the 2001 Tour to Australia when he became the first man to captain the British & Irish Lions twice, having already done so on the trip to South Africa four years prior.
He led the Lions to a 2-1 Test series victory over the Springboks in 1997 and was just the second man, after Willie John McBride in 1974, to accomplish that feat in the 20th century.
That iconic series win was formed on team mentality and work ethic – with Johnson as the focal point – and the towering English lock toured with the Lions three times in all, having also been part of the 1993 series against New Zealand.
1993 Gavin Hastings (Lion #606, Scotland) v New Zealand
Having first played for the British & Irish Lions against a Rest of the World XV in 1986, Gavin Hastings was part of the victorious 1989 Tour to Australia – scoring a try in the second Test – before captaining the Lions in New Zealand four years later.
The Scot played in six consecutive Test matches across the 1989 and 1993 Tours and skippered the Lions to a brilliant 20-7 victory over the All Blacks in the second Test in Wellington in 1993, although they would go on to lose the Test series 2-1.
A prolific goal-kicker from full-back, Hastings scored more than 150 points in a Lions jersey during his career.
1989 Finlay Calder (Lion #613, Scotland) v Australia
Finlay Calder holds a unique place in British & Irish Lions history as the only 20th century captain to lead the team to a series victory after losing the opening Test, doing so in 1989.
Having been defeated 30-12 by Australia in the first Test, Calder – with his steely gaze – was a crucial influence in the subsequent victories in Brisbane and Sydney that ensured a 2-1 series triumph.
The Scottish flanker followed in the footsteps of his brother Jim, who went on the 1983 Tour to New Zealand, making them the only twins to play for the Lions.
1986 Colin Deans (Lion #594, Scotland) v Rest of the World XV
Colin Deans impressed in a British & Irish Lions jersey on the 1983 Tour to New Zealand, scoring tries in consecutive matches prior to the fourth Test.
But the Scottish hooker was surprisingly kept on the bench for the entirety of the Test series, as the All Blacks triumphed 4-0 against the tourists.
Deans did captain the Lions in their 1986 contest against a Rest of the World XV at Cardiff Arms Park, as part of the IRB’s centenary celebrations, with ‘The Rest’ edging that game 15-7.
1983 Ciaran Fitzgerald (Lion #579, Ireland) v New Zealand
Ciaran Fitzgerald captained the British & Irish Lions on their 1983 Tour to New Zealand – starting all four Tests against the All Blacks and making 11 appearances in total.
The Ireland hooker had skippered his country to Five Nations glory in 1983, prompting manager Willie John McBride and coach Jim Telfer to hand him the Lions captaincy, and he performed admirably despite the All Blacks winning the Test series 4-0.
1980 Bill Beaumont (Lion #548, England) v South Africa
Current World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont became the first Englishman to captain the British & Irish Lions since Douglas Prentice 1930 when he led the Tour to South Africa in 1980, with the hosts claiming a 3-1 victory overall.
After beginning his rugby career as a 17-year-old at Fylde in 1969, the lock played his entire career with the Lancashire-based side until injury forced his retirement in 1982.
Beaumont earned 34 caps for England in his career, captaining the Red Rose in 21 of those appearances, and led them to Five Nations Championship Grand Slam glory in 1980.
1977 Phil Bennett (Lion #506, Wales) v New Zealand
1977 captain Phil Bennett was renowned for having one of the most dazzling sidesteps in rugby, with the fleet-footed fly-half leaving defenders bamboozled on many an occasion.
The Welshman formed a deadly partnership with scrum-half Gareth Edwards for the British & Irish Lions and for their country, with both starring in the unbeaten Tour to South Africa in 1974.
Bennett took the armband for the following Tour of New Zealand in 1977, but was unable to repeat the feat as Lions went down 3-1, despite finishing top scorer in the Tests with 18 points to his name.
1974 Willie John McBride (Lion #433, Ireland) v South Africa
The honour of captaining the most successful British & Irish Lions side of all time goes to Irishman Willie John McBride, who led his side to a 3-0 landslide victory in South Africa in 1974.
A veteran of five Lions tours and an inspirational leader, McBride earned a remarkable 17 caps over a 12-year spell, with his first Tour also to South Africa back in 1962.
The imposing lock also featured in 1966 and 1968, before a standout performance in the first and only Lions tour victory in New Zealand in 1971, after which he received an MBE for his services to the game.
1971 John Dawes (Lion #487, Wales) v New Zealand
Centre John Dawes is the only man to have led The British & Irish Lions on a victorious Tour to New Zealand, guiding the tourists to a 2-1 triumph in 1971 after drawing the final Test 14-14 in Auckland.
Those were the Welshman’s only four Lions Test caps, but he certainly made his impression after leading from the front to keep the All Blacks at bay throughout.
Dawes, who returned to New Zealand as Lions coach in 1977, also never lost to England during his international career, as well as leading Wales to 1971 Five Nations Grand Slam victory.
1968 Tom Kiernan (Lion #428, Ireland) v South Africa
Full-back Tom Kiernan led The British & Irish Lions on the 1968 Tour of South Africa, and despite losing the series 3-0, he emerged as top Test points scorer with 35 to his name.
The Irishman also featured on the 1962 Tour, before leading the side out six years later, but never managed to claim a win in a Lions jersey, with a 6-6 draw in the 1968 second Test in Port Elizabeth the closest he came to victory.
Kiernan’s nephew, Mike, also featured three times on the Lions Tour of New Zealand in 1983.
1966 David Watkins (Lion #455, Wales) v New Zealand
Welshman David Watkins led the British & Irish Lions twice on the 1966 Tour of New Zealand, also featuring in the side that toured Australia during the same trip, with the series against the All Blacks ending in a 4-0 defeat.
Born in Blaina, Monmouthshire, Watkins played both Rugby Union and Rugby League during an illustrious career, representing his country in both derivatives of the game.
A year after the Tour to New Zealand, Watkins switched codes to play for Salford, where he made over 400 appearances, as well as six for Great Britain.
1966 Mike Campbell-Lamerton (Lion #413, Scotland) v New Zealand and Australia
Mike Campbell-Lamerton will go down in British & Irish Lions history as the skipper who gave up his Test place because he believed he didn’t merit selection.
After playing in both Tests against the Wallabies and the opening rubber against the All Blacks in 1966, the physically-imposing Scotsman put the team before his own individual aspirations by handing over the captaincy to David Watkins for the second and fourth Tests in New Zealand.
1962 Dickie Jeeps (Lion #371, England) v South Africa
Dickie Jeeps is a rare breed having represented The British & Irish Lions before being selected for England, and the scrum-half went on to amass 13 caps across three Tours – a record only beaten by Willie John McBride since.
Jeeps toured Australia and New Zealand in 1959 in between trips to South Africa in 1955 and 1962, being made captain during the latter when Arthur Smith was ruled out of the final Test.
1962 Arthur Smith (Lion #365, Scotland) v South Africa
Having burst onto the international scene by spearheading Scotland to a win over Wales that ended his country’s run of 17 straight defeats, Arthur Smith duly earned British & Irish Lions recognition later in 1955 with a place on the Tour to South Africa.
When the Lions next returned to South Africa seven years later, they did so with Smith as captain, with the mazy winger playing in the first three Tests before missing the final match through injury.
1959 Ronnie Dawson (Lion #388, Ireland) v New Zealand and Australia
Hooker Ronnie Dawson captained The British & Irish Lions on their 1959 Tour, taking the reins in six Tests – a record that was later equalled by Martin Johnson – as they won 2-0 in Australia and lost 3-1 in New Zealand.
The Irishman was unavailable in 1962, although he did Tour as an assistant manager in South Africa six years later. In 2013, he was inducted to the World Rugby Hall of Fame.
1955 Robin Thompson (Lion #367, Ireland) v South Africa
Robin Thompson was deemed by some to be a surprise choice as captain for the Tour to South Africa in 1955 – his only involvement with the British & Irish Lions.
But the Ireland lock was a key cog in the engine room as they drew the four-Test series with the Springboks 2-2, starting the first two matches and returning for the fourth and final clash after missing the third through injury.
1955 Cliff Morgan (Lion #363, Wales) v South Africa
Described during the 1955 British & Irish Lions Tour as the best fly-half ever to visit South Africa, Cliff Morgan ranks as one of the top No.10s ever to come out of Britain or Ireland.
The renowned Cardiff playmaker appeared in all four Tests during the 2-2 series draw with the Springboks, and became the only Welshman to captain the Lions to a Test victory in South Africa when he led the side in the third rubber at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
1950 Bleddyn Williams (Lion #353, Wales) v New Zealand and Australia
Known as ‘The Prince of Centres’, Bleddyn Williams became the first Welshman to captain the British & Irish Lions for 40 years when he led the team out for the third Test against New Zealand in 1950.
In all, Williams – born in Taff’s Well – skippered the Lions on three occasions and marked the last of those games with a try against Australia in Brisbane.
Williams featured in 20 of the 29 fixtures in the near four-month tour of New Zealand and Australia, scoring 13 tries and showcasing his superb all-round game in midfield.
1950 Karl Mullen (Lion #333, Ireland) v Australia & New Zealand
Having already led Ireland to their first ever Grand Slam, two Triple Crowns and two International Championship titles, hooker Karl Mullen was perhaps the natural choice to captain the Britis & Irish Lions on their first Tour after the Second World War.
A consultant gynaecologist by trade, Mullen’s genial nature helped the tourists endear themselves to the public in New Zealand and Australia.
He missed two matches against New Zealand through injury but returned to help the Lions defeat Australia and also coached the forwards throughout the Tour.
1938 Sam Walker (Lion #311, Ireland) v South Africa
Belfast-born Sam Walker, a product of Instonians RFC in the Northern Irish capital, encouraged an open, attacking style which endeared the British & Irish Lions to South African crowds in 1938.
The prop kept spirits up in an injury-hit touring camp and captained the side in all three Tests against South Africa, who won an entertaining series 2-1, as well as in 17 invitational fixtures around the country.
1936 Bernard Gadney (Lion #283, England) v Argentina
1936 saw The British & Irish Lions tour South America for the final time and Bernard Gadney was installed as captain for the trip.
Lion #283 Gadney led the touring party to 10 wins from as many matches, with 399 points scored and just 12 conceded, including a 23-0 win over Argentina.
The Oxford-born scrum-half later served as an Officer in the Royal Navy during World War II and was the first player to be inducted into the Museum of Rugby’s Wall of Fame shortly after his death, aged 91, in 2000.
1930 Carl Aarvold (Lion #230, England) v New Zealand
Centre Carl Aarvold captained The British & Irish Lions to their sole Test victory on the 1930 Tour, a 6-3 triumph in Dunedin.
He led the team on eight occasions in all, having also been part of the 1927 Lions squad in Argentina, and played a starring role in the team – top scoring with nine tries across the Tour.
He would later go on to enjoy an illustrious career as a barrister, presiding at the 1965 trial of the Kray twins, and was knighted in 1968.
1930 Doug Prentice (Lion #276, England) v Australia & New Zealand
A Leicester RFC stalwart, Doug Prentice led The British & Irish Lions in 12 matches on the 1930 Tour to Australia and New Zealand at the age of 34.
The Tour is widely regarded as the first to feature a truly representative British Isles team and Prentice’s leadership skills made him the ideal candidate to captain the squad.
He later managed the Lions on the 1936 Tour of Argentina as well as serving as an RFU secretary.
1927 David MacMyn (Lion #249, Scotland) v Argentina
David MacMyn, born in Kirkcudbright, captained The British & Irish Lions on an unbeaten Tour of Argentina in 1927.
The tourists won all four Tests against Argentina – three of them to nil – with MacMyn scoring in three of them.
MacMyn remained involved with the game after his retirement, serving as a selector and president of the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU).
1924 Ronald Cove-Smith (Lion #201, England) v South Africa
British & Irish Lion #201 Ronald Cove-Smith captained the Lions for the 1924 Tour to South Africa, where the term Lions originated as a nickname given by journalists due to the beast featuring on their official ties.
Cove-Smith appeared the perfect man for the job, having not tasted defeat in his 13 international appearances for England prior to the visit to South Africa.
Unfortunately for the lock, who would go on to captain England to the Grand Slam in 1928, the Tour would turn out to be extremely difficult as they won nine of the 21 games and failed to win any of the four Tests.
In what was the first Tour after World War I, injury ran rife through the squad, especially in its goalkickers.
1910 John Raphael (Lion #164, England) v Argentina
The year 1910 saw two Tours take place simultaneously, one in South Africa and the other in Argentina to mark the 100th anniversary of the Revolucion de Mayo, with England full-back John Raphael captaining the latter side.
Raphael’s side won all six matches, including Argentina’s first ever Test on 12 June 1910.
The Belgian-born sportsman, who has been described as having a ‘beautiful kick’ and ‘good turn of speed’ had before that played nine times for England was also a strong cricketer and he made 77 first-class appearances for Surrey and Oxford University. Raphael died due to wounds sustained at the Battle of Messines in World War I.
1910 Tommy Smyth (Lion #183, Ireland) v South Africa
British & Irish Lion #183 Tommy Smyth captained the outfit on the 1910 Tour to South Africa, having impressed for Ireland in the years prior to that.
Smyth, though, missed out on the first Test due to injury as the Lions were defeated 14-10.
He returned for the second Test, where the tourists put in an outstanding performance to secure their first win over the Springboks in South Africa since 1896.
The Lions lost the decider but they and Smyth, who was the first of ten Irish Tour skippers, had made their mark.
1910 Jack Jones (Lion #132, Wales) v South Africa
In the absence due to injury of Tour skipper Tommy Smyth in the opening Test of the 1910 Tour Jack Jones, affectionately known as The Prince of Centres, led the side out.
The only survivor from the 1908 Tour of Australia and New Zealand, Jones reached the top of the Lions appearances table at the time with 41 – levelling Englishman Frank Stout.
Jones also made 14 appearances for Wales while his brothers David and James both also played for Wales – making them one of only two families to ever provide three brothers to the international side.
1908 Boxer Harding (Lion #111, Wales) v New Zealand
Arthur ‘Boxer’ Harding, a surprisingly nimble forward possessing good passing and kicking attributes, was first chosen for Wales 1902 where he faced England at Blackheath.
He later was chosen to face the Original All Blacks on New Zealand’s first tour of Britain in 1905 after making his first Lions Tour appearance in 1904.
Four years later, Harding was chosen to captain the Lions on their 26-match Tour of Australia and New Zealand, where the tourists won 19 of the 26 contest but none of the three Tests.
1904 Teddy Morgan (Lion #114, Wales) v Australia & New Zealand
Welsh international wing Teddy Morgan took over the captaincy on the 1904 Tour of Australia and New Zealand after original choice David Bedell-Sivright broke his leg in the opening game.
In a highly successful Tour, The British & Irish Lions won all three Tests against Australia but lost the contest with the All Blacks.
Morgan, who made 16 appearances for Wales, is believed to have led his team in singing the Welsh national anthem in response to the All Blacks’ haka during the 1905 tour of the Original All Blacks to Britain – the first time a national anthem had been sung at a sporting event.
1904 David Bedell-Sivright (Lion #86, Scotland) v New Zealand & Australia
Regarded as one of rugby’s original enforcers, David Bedell-Sivright earned his reputation as a fearsome competitor and leader in large part due to his captaincy in 1904.
His bruising performances for Scotland after making his international debut in 1900 earned him his first British & Irish Lions call-up in 1903 to South Africa, where injury robbed him of a Test cap.
Bedell-Sivright would return as skipper a year later for the trip to Australia and New Zealand, making one Test appearance before injury struck again as a broken leg ended his Tour.
He continued to lead Scotland on his return from his second Lions Tour, helping his country to a 6-0 victory against South Africa in 1906 before retiring from international duty.
1903 Mark Morrison (Lion #93, Scotland) v South Africa
Described by South African adversary Jimmy Sinclair as “a real roughhouse of a man, and a great leader”, Mark Morrison was chosen as captain for the 1903 Tour to South Africa.
A no-nonsense forward forged in Scotland, Morrison made 19 appearances during the two-month Tour but his efforts were not enough to prevent the Lions losing the Test series 1-0.
Morrison also held the Scotland record for the most appearances by a captain (15) for 60 years, leading his country to Home Nations Championship wins in 1901, 1903 and 1904.
1899 Frank Stout (Lion #77, England) v Australia
While not named as the original captain for the 1899 Tour to Australia, Frank Stout took on the honour from Matthew Mullineux after The British & Irish Lions lost the first Test.
Under his leadership, the tourists went on to triumph in the final three Tests and win the series 3-1 overall, with Stout finishing the Tour with 21 appearances and four tries in total.
The England international forward, who won 14 caps for his country, was also selected for the 1903 Tour to South Africa and once again played in every Test for the tourists.
1899 Matthew Mullineux (Lion #63, England) v Australia
British & Irish Lion #63 Matthew Mullineux had his first taste of the famous red jersey in 1896 on the Tour to South Africa, with the scrum-half featuring in one Test.
His influence ramped up significantly for his second Lions trip three years later, taking to the field in Australia as captain and Tour manager, playing ten games including the first Test.
After the Wallabies triumphed 13-3 in the series opener, Mullineux dropped himself in favour of Charlie Adamson and the Lions went on the win 3-1 under the leadership of Frank Stout.
Mullineux had also scored four tries in 12 matches on the 1896 Tour to South Africa before going on to earn the Military Cross during the First World War as a chaplain in the British Army.
1896 Johnny Hammond (Lion #30, England) v South Africa
The original captain for the 1896 Tour to South Africa, British & Irish Lion #30 Johnny Hammond enjoyed an extensive career in the famous red jersey despite never playing for England.
He went on his first Tour in 1891 to South Africa, playing all 20 games on that trip including the three Tests as the Lions returned home unbeaten.
Hammond was then named skipper five years later as the Lions secured a 3-1 series victory, although injury meant he only played in two of the Tests as Tom Crean took over.
His third and final Tour was also to South Africa in 1903, this time as a team manager.
1896 Tom Crean (Lion #53, Ireland) v South Africa
The honour of captaining The British & Irish Lions on the 1896 Tour to South Africa was bestowed on Thomas Crean after Johnny Hammond suffered an injury early in the trip.
The Irishman played 21 times on the Tour in total, including in all four Tests, as he guided the tourists to a 3-1 series victory – even scoring a try in the second match with the Springboks.
In addition to his success with the Lions, Crean also featured nine times for Ireland before fighting in both the Second Boer War and World War One, earning the Victoria Cross.
1891 Bill Maclagan (Lion #32, Scotland) v South Africa
One of the longest-serving international rugby players during the early development of the sport, Bill Maclagan played 25 times for Scotland between 1878 and 1890.
He went on to lead The British & Irish Lions on the 1891 Tour to South Africa, scoring eight tries in 19 appearances on the trip and helping the Lions to a 3-0 series victory.
His 13 seasons of international rugby was a Scottish record for 60 years and his contribution to the game was recognised in 2009 with his induction into the World Rugby Hall of Fame.
1888 Andrew Stoddart (Lion #13, England) v New Zealand & Australia
Andrew Stoddart played ten times for England – captaining the Red Rose on four occasions – and was also a gifted sporting all-rounder, playing international cricket and impressing at Australian Rules football.
He wasn’t the initial captain for the 1888 Lions Tour to New Zealand and Australia but, as one of only three other players on the trip with previous international experience, he took over the role when Robert Seddon tragically died a boating accident halfway through the Tour.
Stoddart has the perhaps unique distinction of captaining England in three different sports – rugby, cricket and Aussie Rules – as well as skippering the first-ever Barbarians team and he met future wife Emily Luckham while on Tour with the Lions.
1888 Robert Seddon (Lion #11, England) v New Zealand & Australia
As one of only four players with international experience on the first ever British & Irish Lions Tour to Australia and New Zealand, Robert Seddon was an obvious pick to lead the tourists.
The England forward was an automatic selection for Arthur Shrewsbury and Alfred Shaw in 1888 and he earned the respect of all of his teammates with his leadership on and off the field.
His story ended in tragedy though as Seddon drowned while sculling on the Hunter River halfway through the Tour, with Andrew Stoddart taking over the captaincy of the Tour.