The British & Irish Lions is a brand synonymous in rugby circles and last year’s tour to Australia saw a memorable victory by a squad of players from the modern day of professionalism.
But it was a tour 40 years ago which is recalled time and time again whenever it comes to Lions tour time (every four years).
In May 1974 a squad of 34 rugby players from Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales formed the British and Irish Lions Squad to travel to South Africa.
They were to play against a country not beaten in 78 years.
When they returned in July of that year, having won 21 of their 22 matches, drawing the other, they returned as “The Invincibles” and have become known as the greatest northern hemisphere side of all time.
In June 2014 the Wooden Spoon Children’s Charity (Ulster Region) will host the only full reunion of the 1974 Lions teams to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of that famous unbeaten tour.
Captained by Ulster’s Willie-John McBride, who is also currently President of Wooden Spoon, the reunion will bring together 27 members of the team to celebrate their achievements and to raise funds for the charity.
Legendary players such as Gareth Edwards, Andy Irvine, Fran Cotton, JPR Williams, Phil Bennett, Fergus Slattery as well as Ulster stars Michael Gibson and Syd Millar will all be attending the Gala Dinner in the Culloden Hotel on June 19.
Wooden Spoon (Ulster Region) chairman, Peter Wood said: “Wooden Spoon has contributed over £600,000 to projects involving disadvantaged and disabled children and young people throughout Northern Ireland since 1997.
“The unique re-union of so many of Rugby’s greatest players provides a wonderful opportunity for us to raise valuable funds for our charitable projects.
“We are indebted to our President Willie John for his assistance in this event and indeed to all our sponsors including Flybe, Ulster Bank, Hastings Hotels, Heineken, MIS Claims, Lagan Valley Steels and Phoenix Natural Gas who have made it all possible.”
Andrea Hayes, Flybe Commercial Manager – North, added: “Flybe is in the business of connecting and reuniting people every day.
“It is fitting that we facilitate this unique reunion of rugby legends by flying them into Belfast from all over Scotland, Wales and England and at the same time support the fund raising efforts of Wooden Spoon.”
‘The Invincibles’ will arrive in Belfast on June 19 for the sell-out Gala Dinner at the Culloden Hotel.
They will visit the Titanic Signature building and Belfast City Hall before travelling to Dublin for a second celebratory event on Saturday, June 21.