Drawing on first hand interviews from more than 75 British Lions tourists since the golden age of the fifties, this book captures what it means to be a British Lions rugby player – the historic victories, the glorious failures and the stories surrounding the icons of rugby such as Edwards, Bennett, Hastings, Guscott, Dallaglio and Johnson.
The British and Irish Lions are one of the most famous and recognised teams in world rugby.
Every four years, the Lions – selected from the national sides of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland – head to the southern hemisphere to do battle with either New Zealand, Australia or South Africa. In Once Were Lions, acclaimed sportswriter Jeff Connor interviews a host of players – from the oldest surviving Lions from the 1946 tour and the icons of the game to those who have become mere footnotes in history – and draws out the compelling human stories from each Test series.
It’s a book that captures the ups and downs of tour life: the pride of being a Lion, the numerous personal feuds and the many humorous anecdotes, taking in the historic wins and the ignoble losses. Many Lions had their lives enriched by having worn the famous red jersey; an equal number had their lives changed irrevocably in the opposite direction.
Full of previously unchronicled stories – Des O’Brien was away from home for nine months on the 1946 tour which almost cost him his marriage; while in 1966 one well-known English winger ‘went off tour’ with a woman he met in a bar and reappeared only for the last two matches – the book concludes with the disastrous 2005 New Zealand tour and trenchant opinions from the players on the controversial Clive Woodward.
Thanks to a host of amusing and heart-breaking anecdotes about life with the Lions, the book offers a fascinating insight into how touring, sport and life has changed in the last 60 years.
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About the Author
Jeff Connor is rugby correspondent for the Mail on Sunday. He is the author of eleven books, including an entertaining account of the Tour De France, ‘Wide-Eyed and Legless’, and ‘Up Down and Under’, a diary of the 2001 Lions Rugby Tour to Australia. ‘Pointless, A Season with Britain's Worst Football Team’, will be published by Headline in 2005.
Martin Hannan is a sports journalist for Scotland on Sunday. An award-winning writer, his book Rock of Gibraltar, published by Mainstream, was widely acclaimed as one of the best racing books of 2004. His most recent book was a collaboration with ex-Celtic footballer Neil Lennon on his autobiography Man and Bhoy.