COMPANY NEWS ARTICLE
GTE™ have a drink or two with a 'Lions Legend'
June 1, 2007
GTE™ attended in force a sports man's dinner in aid of the Old Richians RFC junior section and came across 'Willie John McBride'. As the photo indicates we had a fantastic time listening to stories from when 'WJB' was a victorious British Lions captain against the Spingboks. He made his international debut against England at Twickenham on Saturday the 10th February 1962 aged 21. His international career spanned from 1962 until 1975, He played in a record 17 tests for the Lions. He was capped 63 times, 12 as Captain for Ireland. He won the last 52 of his caps in succession. In the 1960's when the robust physical play of the All blacks and Springboks dominated, he was one of the few forwards from the home nations who was their match.
Willie-John's outstanding leadership qualities led to his appointment as Captain of the 1974 Lions tour to South Africa. The test series was won 3-0, with one match drawn. It was the most controversial & physical test match series ever played. The management of the Lions concluded that the Springboks dominated their opponents with physical aggression. At that time there were only substitutions if a Doctor agreed that a player was physically unable to continue, There were NO video cameras or officials to keep punching, kicking & head butting under control. The Lions decided "to get their retaliation in first" and the notorius "99" call was conceived - This signalled the Lions player to attack their nearest opponent.
In 1975 as 'WJBs' playing career was coming to a close he played his last game for Ireland at Lansdowne Road. The game was against France and towards the end of the match he scored his first and only try in an international match!! It was a fitting crowning moment of a distinguished playing career. His last international game was against Wales on Saturday March 15, 1975.
After retiring from the great game he coached the Irish team & was manager of the 1983 Lions tour to New Zealand. He now lives in Ballyclare and in 2004 was named by Rugby World magazine as 'Heineken Rugby Personality of the Century'.
Article by Simon Baldwin