Lions history in the making
April 23, 2009
Flutey has had a memorable season including his debut for England, selection for the Lions and signing for French Top 14 side Brive © Getty Images
Brian Black Grahame Budge Mike Catt Brent Cockbain Riki Flutey Pat McEvedy Ian McGeechan Cuthbert Mullins Arthur O'Brien Rusty Richards Ian Smith Matt Stevens
England's Riki Flutey is set to join an exclusive club this summer when he adds his name to those who have played for and against the British & Irish Lions.
Flutey, who faced the Lions in Wellington colours during the 2005 tour of New Zealand, will also join another elite group when he becomes one of the latest overseas-born players to pull on the famous red jersey.
The Irish forward Tom Reid was the last man to turn out for and against the Lions. He toured with the Lions in 1955, playing one Test as a No.8 and another as a lock in the drawn series against the Springboks. He later toured Canada with the Barbarians, settled there and in 1959 lined up for Eastern Canada in the back-row against the Lions.
The 29-year-old Flutey, a former New Zealand Maori international who qualified for England on residency grounds, has been the subject of much debate after forcing his way into the reckoning with a string of eye-catching displays for his adopted country since his 2008 debut. Many argued that it would not be right to select him - but importantly head coach Ian McGeechan was not one of them.
A keen student of the game, and especially the Lions, Geech would have been well aware that the naturalisation road was one well-travelled by Lions squads of the past and will have had no qualms about offering the multi-talented Flutey a much-prized invite to South Africa.
Born in Featherston, just south of Wellington in New Zealand, Flutey arrived in England in 2005 having played for Wellington and the Hurricanes as well as the Maori. He quickly settled in his new home and went on to become one of the stars of the Premiership - scooping the Player of the Year award in 2008. A stand-out contribution to England's 2009 Six Nations campaign saw him rewarded with a ticket to South Africa and a place in the history books.
Flutey will be joined on the list of overseas-born Lions by two fellow tourists - Ireland's Jamie Heaslip (Tiberias, Israel) and Scotland's Nathan Hines (Waga Waga, Australia). In addition, Ireland fly-half Ronan O'Gara (San Diego, USA) and England's Simon Shaw (Nairobi, Kenya) are already in the club following their previous Lions appearances.
Seven more of the many globe-trotting Lions make our latest list:
Born in Grahamstown in South Africa's Eastern Cape, the superbly-named Reginald Cuthbert Mullins was an early entry on the list when he toured South Africa with the British Isles in 1896. The lock forward featured in two of the four Test clashes with South Africa including the series-clinching 9-3 victory in Kimberley.
McEvedy, a native of Taumata in the north island of New Zealand, was the first Kiwi to appear for the Lions when he toured his homeland and Australia in 1904. A student at Guy's Hospital in London and a member of their rugby club, the oldest in the world, played in the second and third Test victories over Australia as the tourists wrapped up a 3-0 series triumph. He also featured in the victory over New Zealand the following month.
He was back on Lions duty in 1908 when he returned to New Zealand with an Anglo-Welsh side, playing in the drawn Test in Wellington and the defeat in Auckland. Dr Patrick McEvedy as he would become would go on to serve as president of the New Zealand Rugby Union in 1934 and his name also adorns the McEvedy Shield - an annual athletics competition held in Wellington.
O'Brien, like McEvedy was a student at Guy's Hospital, one of nine players the club have contributed to the Lions. Born in Westport on New Zealand's south island, he joined McEvedy on the 1904 tour. In a move that would have outraged the personnel-friendly Clive Woodward he also doubled as the tour manager. He featured in all four Test matches - becoming the first overseas player to score for the Lions with a conversion in both the Sydney clashes and a try in the match in Brisbane.
Born in the delightfully named Vegetable Creek, New South Wales, Australia, 'Rusty' Tom Richards not only has the best nickname amongst our list but can easily lay claim to the most fascinating of careers. An international rugby legend having played for the Wallabies and the Lions, he was blessed with a life story out of the pages of the Boy's Own Annual.
He spent a couple of years prospecting in South Africa in 1905, and although he impressed for Transvaal in the Currie Cup he was ruled ineligible for a Springbok cap because he hadn't been in the country long enough. His rugby travels then took him to Europe where he played for Biarritz before moving onto Bristol in England. He made a try-scoring debut for Australia in 1908 following which The Times famously wrote, "If ever the earth had to select a rugby team to play Mars, Tom Richards would be the first player to be selected."
When Australia beat Cornwall to win gold in the 1908 Olympic Final, Richards was again the dominant player and scored a try. He returned to South Africa in 1910 and was asked to play for that year's injury-hit Lions - qualifying as a member of Bristol Rugby Club. He went on to play in two of the three Test and nine of the last 11 matches on tour. On his return to Australia he would garner more international honours, touring with the Wallabies to North America in 1912.
He would later distinguish himself in military action as one of the first Anzac troops onto the beach at Gallipoli then winning the Military Cross by leading the group of soldier which broke the Hindenburg lone at Bullecourt. Sadly, he was gassed in France and died at the age of 52 - but his name lives on - the Wallabies and Lions now contest the Tom Richards Cup.
South African-born prop forward Black made his England debut in 1930 and went on to play for the British Isles during that year's tour of New Zealand and Australia. He featured in all four Tests against the All Blacks as the hosts notched a 3-1 series victory.
Black was the Lions' leading scorer in the series with four tries and surprising for a prop - two conversions. The Lions' victory in Dunedin is one of only six Test successes the tourists have ever secured in the Land of the Long White Cloud. A member of the side that also lost to Australia in the last Test of the tour, he was killed during the Second World War.
England stalwart Mike Catt was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and played for Eastern Province as a student before joining English club Bath in 1992. His England debut followed two years later against Wales as a replacement fly-half but he came to international prominence as a fullback. Indeed, Catt's international career took in caps at fly-half, fullback, centre and wing.
Catt made one Test appearance for the British and Irish Lions in 1997, starting the third Test at fly-half with the series already won. He was selected for his second Lions tour in 2001, but injury meant that he was replaced by Wales centre Scott Gibbs. Catt has yet to hang up his boots and is currently a player-coach with Premiership side London Irish.
Another South African to have gone into battle for the Lions is prop Matt Stevens who toured New Zealand in 2005. Born and raised in Durban, he moved to England to continue his studies and having played representative rugby for Western Province, he soon came to the attention of Bath Rugby.
He made his first Test appearance as a replacement against the All Blacks in 2004 and some eye-catching displays in the following year's Six Nations led to his selection for the 2005 Lions tour to New Zealand. He played in six games for the unbeaten midweek team, but was unable to force his way into the Test side.
A Rugby World Cup appearance would follow in 2007, but his career was left in tatters in 2009 when he tested positive for a banned substance - later revealed as cocaine - and was subsequently handed a two-year ban.
We're pretty sure that Tom Reid and Riki Flutey are the only players to have featured for and against the Lions - but do you know different? We'd be delighted to know of any others - Click here to send us your feedback
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales
The two leading contenders for the best modern open-side flanker go head to head in Paris on Saturday. John Taylor assesses the tale of the tape