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The First Lions of Rugby


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Table of Contents

Introduction; Soddarts Team;The Wellington Unpleasantness; The Gate-Money game; With a Jealous Eye; Drop a Tear and Bid Adieu; 'He Is a Dead-Head'; Surviving the High Seas; A Devilish Track; The First of Many Hearty Welcomes; Friends and Foes Alike; Having Heard Strange Tales; Too Much Whisky, Too Many Women; Make the British LionBite the Dust; Whistle and Rifle; Clowes' Case Under Discussion; The Unprosperous Trinity; Brave the Lion in His Own Den; A Complete Transformation; Southern Cross or Union Jack; How do You Like Our Game?; Bare the marks of War; Noble Guests oof Football Fame; The Great Game of Life Itself; Three Hearty Cheers and a Tiger; A Trip Through Maori Land; Lots of Kangaroo Tales to Tell; Appendices

About the Author

Sean Fagan is a renowned sports historian who has written for daily newspapers, websites and sports magazines, including Inside Sport. He has appeared in television documentaries including A Century of Rugby League. A highly regarded writer on the history of rugby league and rugbys first century, Sean Fagan is the author of The Rugby Rebellion: The Divide of League and Union and The Master: The Life and Times of Dally Messenger.


On the eve of the British & Irish Lions Australian tour in June 2013, renowned rugby writer Sean Fagan brings to life the dramatic story of The First Lions of Rugby-22 young footballers who embarked on a high-risk, non-sanctioned tour of Australia in 1888. A haunting tale of tragedy and triumph, The First Lions of Rugby tells the story of the remarkable team which changed rugby forever.

Across 54 matches, the young Lions battled it out against the best rugby teams Australia and New Zealand had to offer. Then, in a forgotten chapter of sports history, they turned their prodigious football talent to Australian Rules, taking on the top clubs of Melbourne and Adelaide, and stepping into the middle of a `code war' for national ascendancy.

However, the tour was marred by tragedy when a boat accident claimed the life of the team's captain, Bob Seddon. Despite their grief, the team rallied to continue the tour, encouraged by messages of support from across Australia.

Having departed England in controversial circumstances, the Lions returned home bathed in glory as trailblazers and visionaries. A stoic lot, the team had overcome adversity to set down the foundations for a wonderful tradition-the rare but special event of a British & Irish Lions tour.

On the 125-year anniversary of that inaugural tour, The First Lions of Rugby describes in great detail and perspective one of the most enthralling events in sports history.

-- Fagan, Sean

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