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Mark Hoskins

Mark Hoskins writes

Posted Sunday, June 6th 2021

Roar: Bristol and the British & Irish Lions

Club Historian, Mark Hoskins analyses Bristol's history and relationship with the British & Irish Lions, following Kyle Sinckler's call up to Warren Gatland's squad for the forthcoming tour of South Africa.

John Pullin
Mark Regan
Simon Shaw
Kyle Sinckler

Bristol’s first Lions tourist was Wallace Jarman, who toured with the British team (they weren’t called Lions in those days) to Australia in 1899.

He played in all four tests, and a few months after his return he became Bristol’s first England player. Percy Down toured in 1908 with the Anglo-Welsh side (subsequently given Lions status) playing in all three tests against New Zealand. In common with Jarman, he was not capped by England until after his return. In 1910 Jack Spoors and Maurice Neale both went to South Africa with the British team. Both men played in all three tests, with Spoors setting a record by scoring a try in each match.

Mark Regan on the 1997 tour of South Africa.

Strangely, Spoors was never capped by England, while Neale later won his sole cap as a Blackheath player. Tom Richards, the Australian international who had played for Bristol back in 1906 was in South Africa at the time of the 1910 tour and was recruited due to an injury crisis, with his previous Bristol membership cited as justification for his selection. He played in the first two tests.

There were no further Lion players from Bristol until 1968 when John Pullin was selected for the tour of South Africa. He played in three tests on this tour, and three years later he appeared in all four tests as the 1971 Lions won a historic series victory in New Zealand. In 1974 Alan Morley was called up to join the Lions in South Africa when winger Clive Rees was injured.

He appeared in two matches, scoring a try on his debut against the South African Leopards. Simon Shaw and Mark Regan both went to South Africa with the Lions in 1997, with Regan appearing in the third test.  Both joined other clubs on their return, and nobody has toured with the Lions as a Bristol player since then.


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