- Points Scored
- Tries Scored
- Drop Goals
Winger Tony O’Reilly holds the distinction of scoring the most tries by a British and Irish Lion and a Barbarian.
O’Reilly’s status as a Lions legend was already assured in his late teens having impressed with 16 tries in 15 matches while on the 1955 tour to South Africa, during which he turned 19. At that stage he had only played four tests for Ireland.
On the 1959 Lions tour to New Zealand and Australia O’Reilly amassed a staggering 22 tries from 24 appearances. He scored his sixth test try for the Lions, still a record, in his 10th and final appearance against the All Blacks in Auckland.
Described as “The Roy of the Rovers of Irish rugby” for his speed of his progression from Belvedere RFC to the test arena, O’Reilly scored four tries in 29 tests for Ireland from 1955-70. He played 30 games and scored 38 tries for the Barbarians – both club records.
It’s funny, as captain you wanted the best out of everybody, and I knew that Tony would play better on the left wing. I had great admiration for him since, even at that age, he had all the classic virtues – body turned slightly away from the tackler, knees and legs high as he runs, tremendous courage. The Irish tend to say, ‘ah, lucky fellow. Everything’s lucky in Ireland’. But there was nothing lucky about Tony’s life. He was already 25 years older upstairs in his mind than anybody I’d known.
There are good public speakers, there are great public speakers and there is Tony O’Reilly. Watching him in action it is difficult not to feel overwhelmed by the sheer weight of his personality.