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Lions Put Faith In All-Welsh Front Row

Lions Put Faith In All-Welsh Front Row

The Springboks, leading 1-0 in the Test series, will face a full Welsh front row when they pack down against the Lions at Loftus Versfeld in Saturday’s vital second Test.

Ospreys prop Adam Jones and Scarlets hooker Matthew Rees are among five changes to the British & Irish Lions side from the first Test defeat.

The pair join Cardiff Blues loosehead prop Gethin Jenkins in the starting line-up after ooth coming on as second half replacements in Durban.

But it will not be the first time the South Africans have faced a front row from one country in a Lions Test. Jenkins, Rees and Jones will be following in the footsteps of some illustrious predecessors.

Back in 1955 it was the Welsh trio of Billy Williams, Bryn Meredith and Courtenay Meredith who battled against the ‘Boks in the four-match Test series. They ended with a share of the spoils as the series was tied 2-2.

Then in 1968 it was the turn of the English to provide the Lions with a front row from the same country. On that occasion it was the third Test in Cape Town which brought together Mike Coulman, John Pullin and Tony Horton.

“It is a huge honour to play for the Lions and we are aware of the incredible history of the jersey. We’ve been told about the all-Welsh front row of 1955 and it would be nice to match or better their achievements,” said Rees

Newport’s Bryn Meredith was, like Rees, the hooker in that front row and he had Swansea’s Billy Williams and Neath’s Courtenay Meredtih as his props.

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The three played together for the Lions seven times – winning four, losing three.

They played in the opening defeat to Western Transvaal, wins over Orange Free State, Rhodesia, the first and third Tests and defeats in the second and fourth.

As a unit, they played nine times together for Wales, winning seven times, to give them a combined record for Wales and the Lions in internationals of played 13, won 9 and lost 4.

The Lions played 25 matches on the 1955 tour and Williams played in 17 of them, Bryn Meredith 15 and Courtenay Meredith 14.

The Lions front row in the third Test in 1968, which they lost 11-6 at Newlands, comprised of Moseley loosehead Mike Coulman, Bristol hooker John Pullin and Blackheath tighthead Tony Horton.

The famous Pontypool front row of Tony Faulkner, Bobby Windsor and Graham Price played together three times for the Lions on the 1977 tour to New Zealand and Fiji.

Windsor and Price were original picks for the tour, while Faulkner joined them as a replacement.

They played together against the Combined Counties/Thames Valley side, Bay of Plenty and Fiji. The latter was not a Test match.