I read an interesting article about the British & Irish Lions yesterday –
The eligibility rules for selection were a bit different back in 1910 when they toured South Africa.
The argument over international eligibility rages on, with different rugby unions beginning to tighten their rules, and in later years the Lions have followed suit. In 1910 you only had to be registered to a British or Irish team to qualify. In 2017 you must now at least qualify for a Home Nations national side.
The 1910 squad included Tom ‘Rusty’ Richards who was playing for Bristol – he had already been capped by Australia.
He is the only player for the Lions who had already represented another nation – this is now commemorated with the Tom Richards Cup – which the Lions and Australia compete for every 12 years. So the Lions will hold it until at least 2025.
‘Rusty’ later joined Toulouse, served in the First World War, he was at Gallipoli and was awarded the
Military Cross at the Western Front –
If the 1910 Lions rules on eligibility were still in force today, Warren could choose from a number of players at registered clubs –
Louis Picamoles, Kurtley Beale, Willie Le Roux, Charles Piutau, Schalk Burger, Marcelo Bosch, JP Pietersen, Jimmy Gopperth, Kahn Fotulai’I, Schalk Britz and Jeremy Thrush to name a few.
Warren Gatland already has a problem selecting his 37 – with some big names likely to miss out – he should be glad the rules changed over a century ago regarding who he can give the famous red shirt to.