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Paul O'Connell to captain of the Lions tour of South Africa

23rd April 2009

On Tuesday, Paul O’Connell attained the greatest honor available to a British or Irish player when he was chosen as captain of the Lions tour of South Africa this year. Paul was selected as captain ahead of his own national captain Brian O’Driscoll, at a hotel in Heathrow's Terminal 5, from where the team will fly out to South Africa on May 24.

Gerald Davies, the Lions manager, called their tours “the last rugby great adventure” said in a press conference to announce the team. The Lions will play a total of 10 matches, but only three of those matches are tests against the Springboks. Such long tours used to be the norm in international rugby, but the Lions are the only team that preserves that tradition.

Lions tours rank second only to World Cups as rugby events, attracting huge numbers of traveling fans and generating serious income for host nations.

Players still regard selection as a supreme honor. When Lawrence Dallaglio retired last year, a World Cup winner with England in 2003 and one of the great players of the modern era, he said that playing for the Lions was the peak of his career.

Paul O’Connell will be accompanied by 13 compatriots, the biggest ever Irish contingent and the first time it has had the largest share of initial tour selections. Two rugby superstars, Jonny Wilkinson, England’s World Cup-winning outside-half, and Gavin Henson, the flamboyant Welsh center are rehabilitating from injury and as such did not make the team.

The full squad is as follows:

Fullback
Lee Byrne (Wales)
Rob Kearney (Ireland)

Wing
Shane Williams (Wales)
Leigh Halfpenny (Wales)
Ugo Moyne (England)
Luke Fitzgerald (Ireland)
Tommy Bowe (Ireland)

Centre
Tom Shanklin (Wales)
Jamie Roberts (Wales)
Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland)
Keith Earls (Ireland)
Riki Flutey (England)

Fly Half
Ronan O'Gara (Ireland)
Stephen Jones (Wales)

Scrum Half
Mike Phillips (Wales)
Harry Ellis (England)
Tomas O'Leary (Ireland)

No 8
Jamie Heaslip (Ireland)
Andy Powell (Wales)

Flanker
David Wallace (Ireland)
Stephen Ferris (Ireland)
Alan Quainlan (Ireland)
Joe Worsley (England)
Martyn Williams (Wales)

Lock
Alun-Wyn Jones (Wales)
Paul O'Connell (Ireland) Captain
Donncha O'Callaghan (Ireland)
Simon Shaw (England)
Nathan Hines (Scotland)

Prop
Gethin Jenkins (Wales)
Adam Jones (Wales)
Andrew Sheridan (England)
Phil Vickery (England)
Euan Murray (Scotland)

Hooker
Jerry Flannery (Ireland)
Lee Mears (England)
Matthew Rees (Wales)

We have a wide selection of rubgy stars and commentators available for corporate events including Martin Bayfield, Matt Dawson, Martin Johnson, Sir Clive Woodward and Lawrence Dallaglio. If you are looking for a rugby star of commentator for your event please give us a call on +44 (0) 208 365 3200 or email us at info@speakerscorner.co.uk

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