- Ask Steven
The reserves for the 1955 LionsJohn GriffithsJanuary 15, 2014
Were there any nominated reserves for the 1955 Lions tour of South Africa? L Geere, South Africa
The thirty-strong party for the 1955 Lions tour to South Africa was announced on March 22, 1955. Only one of the players who had been approached concerning his availability declined the invitation: Rex Willis, the Cardiff and Wales scrum-half citing business reasons.
Jack Siggins, the former Ireland forward, was the tour manager and he later disclosed that he had operated a "youth" policy in selection, excluding many leading players who were over 30. As a result, greats such as Bleddyn Williams, Jackie Kyle, Ken Jones and Rees Stephens were not considered.
Four reserves were originally named: Tom Elliot (Scotland prop); Gareth Griffiths (Wales threequarter); Arthur Edwards (Wales full-back) and George Ross (Ireland loose forward). Before the tour party left London, Elliot had already been called up when F E ("Fuzzy") Anderson, the Irish front-row forward, was ruled out through illness.
Griffiths later went out as 31st man. He was called as a replacement for both Alun Thomas, the Welsh utility back who was diagnosed with yellow jaundice early in the tour, and Arthur Smith, the Scottish wing who broke his hand. The Welshman played in the last three Tests of a series that was shared.
Neither Ross nor Edwards was required - indeed, neither again played international rugby after 1955.
John Griffiths is a widely respected rugby historian and is the author of several sports books, a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and co-author of the IRB International Rugby Yearbook. He has provided insight for Scrum.com since 1999.