British and Irish Lions

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Andy Irvine (274 in all matches) 

The British and Irish Lions (formerly known as the British Isles and the British Lions) is a rugby union team made up of players from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. The Lions generally select international players; they can pick uncapped players available to one of the four Home Unions, but in recent years this has rarely occurred.

Combined rugby union sides from the then United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland toured in the Southern Hemisphere from 1888 onwards. The first tour took place as a commercial venture, made without official backing,[1] but the six subsequent visits that took place before the 1910 South Africa tour, the first representative of the four Home Unions,[2] enjoyed a growing degree of support from the authorities.

Great Britain also entered a team at the Olympics Games in 1900 and in 1908, but they were organised separately from the Lions.

In 1949 the Four Home Unions combined formally to create a Tours Committee[3] and for the first time, every player of the 1950 Lions squad was an international before the New Zealand series.[4] The 1950s proved a golden age for Lions rugby, although only in the 1970s did style begin to match the substance of victory in New Zealand and South Africa. Originally, poorly organised Lions teams regularly suffered defeat at the hands of their hosts, but by 1955 the tourists took the matches seriously enough to obtain a 2-2 draw in South Africa. The 1970s saw a renaissance for the side. The last tour of the amateur age took place in 1993.


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