Locks the winning Lions leaders on tours to South Africa

Locks the winning Lions leaders on tours to South Africa

Thursday is the proverbial D-Day for the British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland when he announces his squad for the three-test tour to South Africa.

And the chances are that a lock will lead the Lions to South Africa for a fifth consecutive time, with Alun Wyn Jones of Wales and Maro Itoje of England the critics’ favourites.

In fact, of the seven post-World War II teams to visit South Africa since 1955, five were captained by a lock forward and it’s bound to be six from eight after Gatland’s choice is announced.

The only times a non-lock captained the Lions tourists to South Africa were in 1962 when wing Arthur Smith led the team that struggled and lost five of their 24 tour matches and drew no lee than four; and in 1968 fullback Tom Kiernan captained the team

Going back from 1962 there was Irish lock Robin Thomson in 1955; then in 1974 followed Willie John McBride who captained the unbeaten Lions and in 1980 the tourists were led by Bill Beaumont, now the chairman of the International Rugby Board. In 1997 Martin Johnson, an uncompromising lock in the same mould as Alun Wyn Jones, was the captain.   

On the five tours under locks as the touring sides’ captain, the Lions record against South Africa is –

1955 Captain Robin Thomson                Played 4, won 2, lost 2                            Points For 49 Against 75
1974 Captain Willie John McBride       Played 4, won 3, drew 1                          Points For 79 Against 34                        
1980 Captain Bill Beaumont                   Played 3, won 0, lost 3                            Points For 68 Against 77
1997 Captain Martin Johnson               Played 3, won 2, lost 1                             Points For 59 Against 66        
2009 Captain Paul O’Connell                 Played 3, won 1, lost 2                             Points For 74 Against 63  
Total For lock captain                            Played 17, won 8, lost 8 drew 1            Points For 329 Against 315

Post-war record under non-locks –
1962 Captain Arthur Smith                     Played 4, lost 3 drew 1                            Points For 20 Against 48
1968 Captain Tom Kiernan                     Played 4, lost 3, drew 1                           Points For 38 Against 61
Non-locks total                                          Played 8, lost 6, drew 2                         Points For 58 Against 109

LIONS POST-WAR RECORD IN SOUTH AFRICA

Total tests played, won, lost, drawn, points for and against –

Non-locks tour captains’ record             Played 8, lost 6, drew 2                          Points For 58 Against 109
Locks tour captains’ record                     Played 17, won 8, lost 8 ,drew 1            Points For 329 Against 315
Total                                                               Played 25, won 8, lost 14, drew 3      Points 387 for Against 424