Ask John
Who was the Lions' youngest captain?
John Griffiths
May 8, 2013
England's Rory Underwood (left) and Tony pose before a match against the Barbarians,
The Underwoods both ran out for the Lions © Getty Images

Welcome to the latest edition of Ask John where renowned rugby historian John Griffiths will answer any rugby-related query you have!

So, if there's something you've always wanted to know about the game we love but didn't know who to ask, or you think you can stump our expert - then get involved by sending us a question.

In this edition, John answers questions about the Lions with brothers, Welsh representation, young skippers and players who have turned out for and against the tourists featuring.

When was the last time brothers toured together with the Lions? Andrew Fraser, England

The Youngs become the first brothers on the same tour since the Underwoods (England) and the Hastings (Scotland) went to NZ in 1993. The Hastings also went together to Australia in 1989.

Before that Jack and Tuan Jones went to Australia & NZ with the 1908 Anglo-Welsh side, James & Joseph Wallace went to SA in 1903, Louis and James Magee to SA in 1896, William and Edwin Bromet were on the 1891 side to SA and the Burnett brothers from Hawick (neither internationals) were members of the trailblazers to NZ and Australia in 1888.

Several brothers have made separate Lions tours.

There were three recent Wallace brothers - Richard, Paddy & David who all became Lions, but they never toured together or even as a pair. The only twins on the list of Lions are the Calders, who toured six years apart - Finlay as captain to Australia in 1989 and Jim to New Zealand in 1983.

How does the high Welsh contribution to the Lions tour party selection compare with previous contingents? John Stevens, Wales

Warren Gatland named fifteen Welshmen in his squad of 37, that's 41% (in relative terms) of the tour party.

That represents Wales's highest absolute contribution (ie. 15) to an originally-named Lions squad since the 1977 tour to NZ (when Wales's John Dawes was the manager and Phil Bennett skipper).

Sixteen of the original tour party that year were Welsh, including Elgan Rees and Brynmor Williams who were uncapped at the time.

In relative terms, that was more than half. The 41% this time is the highest relative Welsh contribution since 1980 to South Africa when 43% - 13 out of the original 30 - were from the Principality.

Recent Welsh contributions to original Lions squads (ie excluding replacements) are as follows:

Wales' Lions representation
Tour Original Selections Welsh Selections % Wales
1977 30 16 53
1980 30 13 43
1983 30 8 27
1989 30 7 23
1993 30 5 17
1997 35 8 23
2001 37 10 27
2005 44 10 23
2009 37 13 35
2013 37 15 41

The absolute benchmark is England's contribution of 20 original selections to the 2005 party named by Sir Clive Woodward.

There were 44 named for that tour, however, so their relative slice was only 45%.

How long since the Lions had such a young squad captain as Sam Warburton? Andrew Walker, Australia

He'll be 24 years and 239 days old - so a few months short of 25 - on the date of the Lions' first tour match (June 1) in Hong Kong.

Warburton will be the youngest tour party skipper since Robin Thompson, the Irish lock, led the 1955 party to South Africa. Thompson was 24 years 48 days old on the day of the first game of that tour.

Here are the ages of the Lions captains since then (calculated on the date of the first tour match)

1959 - Ronnie Dawson - 26
1962 - Arthur Smith - 29
1966 - Mike Campbell-Lamerton - 32
1968 - Tom Kiernan - 29
1971 - John Dawes - 30
1974 - Willie-John McBride - 33
1977 - Phil Bennett - 28
1980 - Bill Beaumont - 28
1983 - Ciaran Fitzgerald - 30
1989 - Finlay Calder - 31
1993 - Gavin Hastings - 31
1997 - Martin Johnson - 27
2001 - Martin Johnson - 31
2005 - Brian O'Driscoll - 26
2009 - Paul O'Connell - 29
2013 - Sam Warburton - 24

How many Lions squads have flown out without a Welsh fly-half? Peter Williams, Wales

Wales supply fifteen members of the squad - six backs and nine forwards. The one position in the squad that the Welsh contingent does not cover is fly-half. There have been only four previous Lions squads since the Great War without a Welsh pivot. Past tourists capped by Wales at fly-half were:

1924 - Vincent Griffiths (Newport)
1930 - Harry Bowcott (Cardiff)
1938 -
1950 - Billy Cleaver (Cardiff)
1955 - Cliff Morgan (Cardiff)
1959 - Malcolm Thomas (Newport)
1962 -
1966 - David Watkins (Newport)
1968 - Barry John (Cardiff)
1971 - Barry John (Cardiff)
1974 - Phil Bennett (Llanelli)
1977 - Phil Bennett (Llanelli) & John Bevan (Aberavon)
1980 - Gareth Davies (Cardiff)
1983 -
1989 *
1993 - Tony Clement (Swansea)
1997 - Neil Jenkins (Pontypridd)
2001 - Neil Jenkins (Cardiff)
2005 - Stephen Jones (Clermont-Auvergne) & Gavin Henson (Ospreys)
2009 - Stephen Jones (Scarlets) & James Hook (Ospreys)

Several of these were used by the Lions as three-quarters (Harry Bowcott, Malcolm Thomas and Gavin Henson) or full-back (Billy Cleaver, Tony Clement and Neil Jenkins (in SA in 1997), but all started at least one cap-match at fly-half for Wales.

* Tony Clement (Swansea) went out as a replacement to Australia in 1989.

Who became the first to play rugby union both against the British & Irish Lions and for them in tour matches? Colin, England

Only two players share this unusual distinction.

The first to appear for and against official Lions tour teams was Tom Reid in the 1950s.

Reid was an Irish international who toured South Africa with the 1955 Lions before later settling in Canada. He played No 8 for the Eastern Canada side that met the 1959 Lions on their way home from a visit to Australia and New Zealand.

Riki Flutey is the other. He came on as a substitute for Wellington in their 23-6 defeat by the 2005 Lions. Then, after coming to Britain and winning caps for England, he was selected for the 2009 Lions party that toured South Africa, where he appeared in six matches including the final Test which the Lions won 28-9.

Lions J P R Williams, Gerald Davies, Ray Gravell, David Richards and Gareth Edwards were in the Barbarians side that met the 1977 Lions at Twickenham in September of that year in a match to mark the Queen's Silver Jubilee, but that is not regarded as a part of the team's official tour record.

In 1888, the former England centre Colin Chapman deputised for the British tourists in the first match of the Victorian Rules leg of their tour. He later played Aussie Rules against the tourists.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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