Willie John McBride MBE Rugby Legend
William James McBride, MBE, better known as Willie John McBride (born 6 June 1940) is a former rugby union footballer who played as a lock for Ireland and the British and Irish Lions. He played 63 Tests for Ireland including eleven as captain, and toured with the Lions five times — a record that gave him 17 Lions Test caps. He also captained the most successful ever Lions side which toured South Africa in 1974.
McBride was born at Toomebridge, County Antrim. Owing to his father's death when he was five years old, he spent most of his spare time helping out on his family farm. Because of this he did not start playing rugby until he was 17. He was educated at Ballymena Academy, Ballymena and played for the school's First XV. After he left he joined the Ballymena R.F.C., and in 1962 was selected to play for Ireland national rugby union team. His first Test on 10 February 1962 was against England at Twickenham. Later that year he was selected to tour South Africa with the British and Irish Lions.
McBride continued to play for Ireland throughout the 1960s and played for Ireland when they first defeated South Africa (the Springboks) in 1965, and when Ireland defeated Australia in Sydney — the first time a Home Nations team had defeated a major southern hemisphere team in their own country. He was again selected for the Lions in 1966, this time touring New Zealand and Australia. He toured South Africa with the Lions again in 1968.
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