Starting at the top
October 27, 2010
Will Greenwood - last of a rare breed? © Getty Images
Welsh scrum-half Brynmor Williams will celebrate his 59th birthday on October 29. In 1977 he joined a select breed of players to make their international debuts in the colours of the British & Irish Lions - playing three Tests against the All Blacks prior to his Wales bow in 1978. With his quirky career in mind we've taken a look back at some more uncapped Lions in our latest Scrum Seven.
Will Greenwood - 1997 tour of South Africa
Greenwood's selection in 1997 was the last time an uncapped player got the call to tour with the Lions. He was a raw, exciting centre at Leicester Tigers at the time, with England having overlooked his talents. On tour, Greenwood served the rugged, competitive midweek side well before near disaster ended his involvement. In a massive fixture against Free State in Bloemfontein, dubbed the 'fourth Test' by some, Greenwood swallowed his tongue after being sent crashing to earth by Jaco Coetzee. "I had swallowed my tongue, my pupils were not reacting to light, my throat was about to be cut open to free up the airways," he later recalled. "I can tell you that there was no out-of-body experience, no going towards the light. I just wasn't going to wake up. Then it happened. With Robbo's [Lions doctor James Robson] help and my mum's howls I came too. What was the first thing I did? I told my mother to go away as she was embarrassing me." Greenwood's England bow arrived the following November, six years before his starring role in their Rugby World Cup triumph and eight before his debut for the Lions in Tests - against New Zealand in 2005.
Dickie Jeeps - 1955 tour of South Africa
One of England's finest ever players, Jeeps' Lions bow came in tandem with Wales' Cliff Morgan in one of the tourists' most thrilling series. The Springboks were a fearsome proposition but inspired by Jeeps' crisp service and Morgan's game-breaking magic the Lions halved the four Test rubber. Jeeps would make his England bow in January 1956 against Morgan's Wales, but was unceremoniously dropped following a defeat. He regained his place a year later and would go on to captain his country on 13 occasions. His final Test was also for the Lions, against South Africa in 1952, while he sits second on the list of most-capped Lions with 13.
Roy Kinnear - 1924 tour of South Africa
Scottish centre Kinnear made his bow for the Lions on their 1924 tour to South Africa, playing four Tests before eventually winning honours with Scotland in 1926. He later defected to the 13-man-code, excelling in the colours of Wigan. He also won a Test cap for Great Britain in league, in 1929. In 1942 Kinnear collapsed and died while playing for the RAF - aged 38. His son was actor Roy Kinnear, who appeared as the father of Veruca Salt in the 1971 film adaptation of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Percy Bush - 1904 tour of Australia and New Zealand
Bush played his first four Test matched for Great Britain - three victories against Australia and a 9-3 loss to New Zealand- at halfback before making his Wales debut at fly-half in arguably their most famous victory - against Dave Gallaher's All Blacks in 1905. On his first Lions tour the audacious Bush, a beguiling runner and natural playmaker, helped himself to 101 points in 17 games, scoring 11 tries, 12 conversions, eight drop-goals and four penalties. He played eight times for Wales following his debut - his final Test coming against Ireland in 1910 - and captained Cardiff during a long club career. He also donned cricket whites for Glamorgan.
Derek Quinnell - 1971 tour of New Zealand
Now known as the figurehead for Wales' first rugby family - his sons Scott, Craig and the tragically blinded Gavin have all played professionally - Quinnell made his first dent in international rugby in the Lions' third Test victory over New Zealand in Wellington as they took a giant stride towards their only series win over the All Blacks. He started that game in an all-Welsh back-row alongside John Taylor and Mervyn Davies, the players he would join in the loose trio for his frantic last-minute Welsh debut as a replacement against France in 1972. Quinnell would later tour with the Lions in 1977 and 1980, ending his career with five caps for the tourists. His son, Scott, would add three Lions caps to the family tally in 2001 against the Wallabies.
Delme Thomas - 1966 tour of New Zealand
Later an inspirational figure for both Llanelli and Wales, Thomas' Test debut came as a 23-year-old in the Lions' second meeting with the All Blacks. The tourists had lost the first Test 20-3 and Thomas was drafted in to replace controversial tour skipper Mike Campbell-Lamerton in the engine-room - going close to scoring a solo try. "If you weren't in the international set up you didn't know who was who," he later said. "I was bundled into the deep end not knowing most of the Welsh side let alone the English, Scottish and Irish boys." He was later moved into the front-row as a makeshift loose-head, a role he also fulfilled on the Lions' 1968 tour to South Africa before playing his part in their 1971 series win over the All Blacks. Thomas' Wales bow came in 1966 against Australia and as well as winning a Five Nations Grand Slam in '71 he also led Llanelli to their celebrated 1972 victory over New Zealand at Stradey Park - 'the day the pubs ran dry'.
Gerald Dancer - 1938 tour of South Africa
Gerald Thomas 'Beef' Dancer was a well-known Bedford prop of the 1930s. In 1938 he was called up for the British Isles' tour to South Africa, under skipper Sam Walker. Dancer played all three Tests against the Springboks in the front-row alongside his captain, scoring a try in their victory in the final match. The series was lost 2-1 and unlike the other players on this list, Dancer failed to win international honours for England.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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