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Abertillery RFC website - the first club rugby website in Wales, established 1995
TILLERY’S LITTLE-KNOWN LION
Well, perhaps we had better say little known in terms of playing for Abertillery. But in terms of Lions Legends, they don’t come much bigger than the big man from Toomebridge, Co. Antrim - the mighty Willie John McBride.
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.
In the late 1960s, Abertillery played McBride’s Ballymena club on their trips to Wales, a team which also featured a certain Syd Millar at prop. Willie John played at least one game for the Green & Whites staying on after one trip.
The picture opposite shows the great man signing the shirt of Abertillery supporter, Leigh Andrews, (exiled in Leeds)
The Ballymena greats who featured in the 1967 game against the Green & Whites.
Willie John McBride; in his Lions’ days as captain.
Dr. Syd Millar (left); Former chairman of the International Rugby Board, Millar won 37 caps as a prop for Ireland. In addition, he played nine times for the Lions and also coached the successful 1974 Lions tour to South Africa before managing the 1980 Lions tour to South Africa. He was manager of the Irish national side at the 1987 World Cup and was later head of the IRFU. In 2007, Dr Millar was awarded the Légion d'honneur, France's highest decoration.