Apr 19, 2017
A look back at Saracens' British & Irish Lions
With today’s Lions squad announcement sending six current Sarries players on the plane over to New Zealand we look back at the players who have travelled with the world’s most famous touring side in the past:
Wallace started all three games for the Lions on their famous 1997 series win over South Africa. The Ireland prop played every minute of the test series, one of only five players to do so. The then 26-year-old spent five years at Saracens, making 67 appearances with the 1997 tour being the pinnacle of a career that included a stint with Leinster and representing Ireland in two World Cups.
The first of Hill’s three Lions tours came in 1997 as he started the first two tests as the Lions secured a series win with successive victories in Cape Town and Durban. The 24-year-old started in his natural position at openside flanker during the tour which cemented his place in England’s dominant team under Clive Woodward following that tour until 2005.
The winger bagged himself a hat-trick in the first game of the tour of Australia against Western Australia. His tour was unfortunately ended early when he suffered a fractured cheekbone in a training incident. He went on to represent England at the 2003 World Cup after leaving Saracens following the 2001 tour to join Harlequins.
The hardest of lock-forwards – Grewcock travelled with the Lions in 2001. He partnered Martin Johnson from the start in all three test matches as the Lions were defeated in the series. They proved dominant victors (13-29) during the first test in Brisbane but were pegged back (35-14) during the second in Melbourne. This left it down to a decider in Sydney where the Lions were edged out by the Wallabies (29-23).
Scotalnd international second-row was unfortunate that he could not get a look in behind club teammate Grewcock and captain Martin Johnson as he failed to feature in any of the three tests.
In his second tour, Hill started at openside in the victorious first test in Brisbane before moving to blindside to accommodate Neil Back in the number 7 shirt during the second test. He was dropped for the deciding third test which might have proved to be a bad decision as Graham Henry’s side lost the match and subsequently the series.
Hill returned under Clive Woodward for the 2005 series in New Zealand. He only featured in one match during the whitewash series defeat. He started in the back-row as the Lions were defeated 21-3 in the first test 21-3 at Christchurch. Following this tour he played three more seasons for Saracens before his 2008 retirement at the age of 35.
Versatile prop Stevens earned his place on the Lions tour following two successful years for the Men in Black where he started the 2011 Premiership final victory over Leicester Tigers. He made six appearances during the tour but was unable to break his way into Warren Gatland’s plans during the three tests against Australia.
The loosehead was selected by Gatland for the 2013 tour having played for Saracens since 2011 after joining from Bristol. He had already established himself as one of England’s props during 2012 and the 22-year-old made his mark on the tour, playing a part in all three tests as the Lions sealed their first series victory since 1997.
The fly-half made his Lions debut in the June 1 test against the Barbarians in Hong Kong before making five further appearances. Farrell’s test bow came in the final test decider in Sydney where he replaced Johnny Sexton for the final 17 minutes as the Lions emerged victorious.
Barritt made two appearances during the tour after being called up alongside England teammate Billy Twelvetrees to shore up the midfield after injuries. He started in the defeat against the Brumbies at outside-centre before moving to inside-centre for the 0-35 victory over the Melbourne Rebels.
By Will Freeman