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1 May 2014
This Just in: May 2014; Sad news that one of the veterans of the 1955 and 1959 British Lions Rugby teams, the tough and rugged prop forward Hughie McLeod, had passed away. McLeod a great job in the scrums on two long tours of South Africa then New Zealand and Australia over 55 years ago.
‘Hughie’ McLeod did not take up playing rugby until he was nearly 18 years old. At school he had no time for team games and it was only after taking on a working life of apprentice plastering that his strength and interest in rugby expanded. Within three years he was playing Scottish senior trials, and he eventually became a tough, hard prop.
McLeod made his debut against France in 1954, and once in the Scottish team he was never dropped. He began as a tighthead but finished as a loosehead and was equally adept in both positions. He retired at the surprisingly early age of 29 in 1962, when many felt he could have played on for years.
He made two tours for the Lions, to South Africa in 1955 and to Australia and New Zealand in 1959, and he toured South Africa with Scotland in 1960.
McLeod gained a reputation as one of the hardest forwards of his time. His dedication was total and he demanded the same of his club and test team-mates. One writer described his attitude on the field as ‘uncompromising – and brutally frank into the bargain!’
One Hawick story has it that once McLeod was faced with a brash young opponent in a club game. The brash lad asked out loud at the first scrum, ‘I wonder what lesson we’ll learn from the great McLeod today?’ A few seconds later the young fellow placed his hand on the ground for balance in the front row exchange, whereupon McLeod promptly stood on it. As the scrum broke up and the young player was left holding his hand in excruciating pain, McLeod was heard to mutter in an audible voice, ‘There endeth the first lesson, sonny boy’!
As a New Zealander I always rated the 1959 team as an excellent one, certainly much more pleasing to watch than later Lions teams. In fact, though I saw four matches of the '59ers tour through the eyes of being a teenager I always rated them as a better all round team than the now famous test series winning 1971 team.
When I offered that opinion one time to one of the members of the 1971 team, the Welsh flanker John Taylor, he howled me down. I replied that unlike him I had seen both of those team play while he hadn't. But I am afraid I got nowhere in the late night debate.
I told John that the 1959ers had won one test match, lost another by a last minute try, and should have been 'awarded' another test victory (having scored four tries to nil against the All Blacks in Dunedin but losing 17-18 via six penalties to Don 'The Boot' Clarke). The 1959 Lions team only lost one test by a wide margin (if you can call 8-22 a wide margin)
By comparison the 1971 team, while they won 2 tests narrowly (9-3 and 13-3), they lost one (12-22) and drew one (14-14) they were outscored in tries by New Zealand across the four tests series. I also pointed out to John that the 1971 Lions were pretty well at full strength while New Zealand's All Blacks were a hopelessly inexperienced outfit that year boasting many players who were brand new to test rugby and who never played tests again (Richie Guy, Alan McNaughton, Bruce Hunter, Phil Gard, Ken Carrington, and Howard Joseph etc)
None of the above washed with my determined and proud dinner companion
Still I will stand up for the brilliance of my memory of the 1959 team. Their backs (with men like Tony O'Reilly, Peter Jackson, David Hewitt, Dickie Jeeps, Bev Risman and Ken Scotland left an indelible mark in New Zealand.)
Apart from one or two who stood out like beacons (Gerald Davies, Barry John, Gareth Edwards) the 1971 team just grimly won matches. Well, that's one young man's memory.
Oops! There, I've said it again John!
The All Blacks began their defence of the William Webb Ellis Trophy...by beating England at Twickenham by 18-12.
Llanelli and Wales
23 internationals for Wales 1972–80
5 internationals for British Isles 1971–80
Llanelli, Richmond and Wales
52 internationals for Wales 1993-2002
3 internationals for British Lions
Llanelli, Richmond, Cardiff and Wales
32 internationals for Wales 1995-2002
One of the big names of Welsh rugby through the 1970s, Derek Quinnell was a rugged and durable forward who could, and did, play in various positions in international matches. Later, his two sons Scott and Craig, who were bigger physically than he was, both played for Wales and one of them followed him into a British Lions touring team.
Derek Quinnell hit the headlines when he was named for the 1971 British Isles tour to New Zealand as the only uncapped player in the side. While on tour he made his international debut against the All Blacks at Wellington. His first game for Wales was as a replacement against France in Cardiff in 1972. In his long career, which included three tours for the British Isles, he played in four teams that beat various All Black sides, which could be a record for a British player – twice in tests for the British Isles, once for the Barbarians and once for his club Llanelli, in its famous game in 1972.
When his playing days were over Quinnell was quickly promoted, first to being a Welsh selector and then as assistant coach of the Welsh team for the Rugby World Cup in 1987.
The first of his sons, Scott, made his debut only 13 years after his father quit. Scott became hugely popular with Welsh fans throughout a career which lasted ten seasons. He was a massive man and his barging runs from the number eight position were seen as a symbol of hope for Welsh rugby that success would follow if everyone could follow the example set by big Scott.
His career had a number of twists and turns. He was lured to rugby league in 1995 and played for Wigan. That meant he missed the World Cup that year. But with the arrival of the professional rugby union game he was back by 1997. He tried his hand with the Richmond club in London but when they fell on hard times he went back to his home town of Llanelli. In his time he went on two Lions tours but in one, to South Africa in 1997, he did not play in any of the test matches. It was in 2001 that he really showed what he could do. In that year’s Lions team he played in his usual bustling style and was rewarded with selection in the three test matches against Australia. The legion of British fans who followed the tour loved him and, one suspects, the Aussie fans admired him.
He played well after returning home but grew weary of the consistent back and knee problems and after playing against Canada in Millennium Stadium in 2002 he waved to the crowds afterwards and announced his retirement. He had had a long and illustrious career.
Craig Quinnell was the younger of the two test-playing brothers. He first appeared against Fiji in 1995, a game won by Wales by only 19-15 (two tries each). He was dropped after that, and took 3 years to regain a starting test position. Craig was a lock forward similar in style to his older brother and some respects played in his shadow, though when the two were together they were a powerhouse pair for Welsh teams.
A third brother Gavin played professionally in Wales as well.
The family lines of this family were added to with the addition of the great Barry John into the mix. Derek Quinnell and Barry were brothers-in-law which makes all the boys the nephews of the former great flyhalf.
Who captained the All Blacks at the 1991 Rugby World Cup?