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An architect by trade, Dawson played hooker for the Wanderers club in Dublin, Leinster, Ireland, the Lions and the Barbarians. He won the first of his 27 Ireland caps against Australia in 1958.
An outstanding leader of men, Dawson captained every team he played for including the 1959 Lions on their tour of Australia, New Zealand and Canada. He led the side in six tests, a record since equalled by Martin Johnson.
A keen Barbarian, he wore the famous jersey 22 times and captained them on several occasions, including their historic win over South Africa in 1961 – the Springboks’ only defeat of that tour.
Dawson was unavailable to tour South Africa with the Lions in 1962, but was appointed assistant manager/coach of the 1968 tourists. A year later he was chosen to be Ireland’s first coach.
He also served as IRFU president and chaired the IRB Council for 20 years, from 1974-94.