2005 British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand

In 2005, the British and Irish Lions rugby union team toured New Zealand for the first time since 1993, playing seven matches against first and second division teams from the National Provincial Championship, one match against the New Zealand Maori team, and three test matches against New Zealand (the All Blacks). The Lions lost the test series 3-0, the first time in 22 years that they lost every test match on tour.

2005 British and Irish Lions Tour to New Zealand
The logo of the 2005 Lions tour
Date23 May – 9 July
Coach(es)England Sir Clive Woodward
Tour captain(s)Ireland Brian O'Driscoll
Wales Gareth Thomas
Test series winners New Zealand (3–0)
Top test point scorer(s)Wales Stephen Jones (14)

The team was managed by former England and Lions player Bill Beaumont, coached by former England coach Sir Clive Woodward, and originally captained by Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll. O'Driscoll suffered a controversial tour-ending injury two minutes into the first test, and Wales captain Gareth Thomas took over as captain for the final four games of the tour.

The poor test results of the 2005 Lions, despite having one of the most experienced playing squads and the largest management team of any Lions tour, led to criticism of Woodward, particularly his selection policy, and prompted commentators to question the future of the Lions.[1]

This tour followed the Lions' 2001 tour to Australia and preceded the 2009 tour to South Africa.


The Lions' campaign involved a warm-up match against Argentina (which was retroactively awarded Test status by the International Rugby Board in March 2008) before the departure for New Zealand, three Tests against the All Blacks, and several tour matches, where the quality of the opposition was expected to be high. This proved to be the case against New Zealand Māori and Auckland, and most of the other tour matches were close for at least the first half. But the match against Manawatu (the Lions' only opponent from the second division of New Zealand's domestic league, the National Provincial Championship) was a one-sided affair, the Lions winning by a score of 109–6.

Date Home team Score Away team Venue
23 May British and Irish Lions 25–25   Argentina Millennium Stadium, Cardiff Match details
4 June   Bay of Plenty 20–34 British and Irish Lions Rotorua International Stadium, Rotorua Match details
8 June   Taranaki 14–36 British and Irish Lions Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth Match details
11 June   New Zealand Māori 19–13 British and Irish Lions Waikato Stadium, Hamilton Match details
15 June   Wellington 6–23 British and Irish Lions Westpac Stadium, Wellington Match details
18 June   Otago 19–30 British and Irish Lions Carisbrook, Dunedin Match details
21 June   Southland 16–26 British and Irish Lions Rugby Park Stadium, Invercargill Match details
25 June   New Zealand 21–3 British and Irish Lions Jade Stadium, Christchurch Match details
28 June   Manawatu 6–109 British and Irish Lions Arena Manawatu, Palmerston North Match details
2 July   New Zealand 48–18 British and Irish Lions Westpac Stadium, Wellington Match details
5 July   Auckland 13–17 British and Irish Lions Eden Park, Auckland Match details
9 July   New Zealand 38–19 British and Irish Lions Eden Park, Auckland Match details


The 44-man tour squad was announced on 11 April 2005, with 20 Englishmen, 11 Irishmen, 10 Welshmen and three Scots selected. Three further Englishmen were selected subject to them proving their fitness. The squad also included English players who had retired from international rugby (Neil Back, Lawrence Dallaglio), were returning from injury (Richard Hill and potentially Jonny Wilkinson, Phil Vickery and Mike Tindall), or had no international experience (Andrew Sheridan). The original 44-man squad was named as:

Player Position Country Club
John Hayes Prop   Ireland Munster
Gethin Jenkins Prop   Wales Cardiff Blues
Graham Rowntree Prop   England Leicester Tigers
Andrew Sheridan Prop   England Sale Sharks
Matt Stevens Prop   England Bath
Julian White Prop   England Leicester Tigers
Gordon Bulloch Hooker   Scotland Glasgow
Shane Byrne Hooker   Ireland Leinster
Steve Thompson Hooker   England Northampton Saints
Andy Titterrell Hooker   England Sale Sharks
Danny Grewcock Lock   England Bath
Ben Kay Lock   England Leicester Tigers
Donncha O'Callaghan Lock   Ireland Munster
Paul O'Connell Lock   Ireland Munster
Malcolm O'Kelly Lock   Ireland Leinster
Neil Back Back row   England Leicester Tigers
Martin Corry Back row   England Leicester Tigers
Lawrence Dallaglio Back row   England Wasps
Richard Hill Back row   England Saracens
Lewis Moody Back row   England Leicester Tigers
Michael Owen Back row   Wales Newport Gwent Dragons
Simon Taylor Back row   Scotland Edinburgh
Martyn Williams Back row   Wales Cardiff Blues
Iain Balshaw Fullback   England Leeds Tykes
Geordan Murphy Fullback   Ireland Leicester Tigers
Josh Lewsey Fullback   England Wasps
Gareth Thomas Fullback   Wales Toulouse
Shane Horgan Wing   Ireland Leinster
Denis Hickie Wing   Ireland Leinster
Jason Robinson Wing   England Sale Sharks
Shane Williams Wing   Wales Ospreys
Gordon D'Arcy Centre   Ireland Leinster
Will Greenwood Centre   England Harlequins
Gavin Henson Centre   Wales Ospreys
Brian O'Driscoll Centre   Ireland Leinster
Tom Shanklin Centre   Wales Cardiff Blues
Ollie Smith Centre   England Leicester Tigers
Charlie Hodgson Fly-half   England Sale Sharks
Stephen Jones Fly-half   Wales Clermont Auvergne
Ronan O'Gara Fly-half   Ireland Munster
Gareth Cooper Scrum-half   Wales Newport Gwent Dragons
Chris Cusiter Scrum-half   Scotland Borders Reivers
Matt Dawson Scrum-half   England Wasps
Dwayne Peel Scrum-half   Wales Llanelli Scarlets

Additions to the squadEdit

Injured England players Jonny Wilkinson, Phil Vickery and Mike Tindall were pencilled in, to be added to the squad subject to them regaining fitness. Only Wilkinson subsequently did so and was called up on 8 May. Iain Balshaw suffered a torn thigh muscle and was replaced in the squad by Mark Cueto on 17 May. Additional players were called up when players suffered injury (and in one case a ban) during the tour proper. The full list of call ups is:

Three players did not travel to New Zealand with the bulk of the touring party. Jason Robinson was excused to spend time with his pregnant wife. Stephen Jones and Gareth Thomas were forced to delay their departures due to commitments to their French clubs. Jones arrived in New Zealand on 31 May, before the Lions played their first tour match, while Robinson arrived on 7 June. For a time, it was doubtful whether Thomas would be able to contend for a spot in the first Test, as he had not been released by his club, Toulouse. However, Toulouse lost in the Top 14 semi-finals, allowing Thomas to leave for New Zealand. Thomas also arrived in New Zealand on 7 June. Thomas eventually replaced Brian O'Driscoll as tour captain after O'Driscoll suffered a dislocated shoulder.


There were 26 back room staff. After problems with the midweek team feeling disillusioned in 2001, the midweek team got their own coaches.

Name Role Home Country
Clive Woodward Head coach[2]   England
Bill Beaumont Tour manager[2]   England
Eddie O'Sullivan Assistant Coach[2]   Ireland
Ian McGeechan Assistant Coach[2]   Scotland
Gareth Jenkins Assistant Coach[2]   Wales
Andy Robinson Assistant Coach[2]   England
Louise Ramsay Team manager[2]   England
Phil Larder Defensive coach[2]   England
Mike Ford Defensive coach[2]   England
Dave Alred Kicking coach[2]   England
Dave Reddin Fitness Coach[2]   England
Craig White Fitness Coach[2]   England
David McHugh Specialist Advisor (referee)[2]   Ireland
Tony Biscombe Video Analyst[2]   England
Gavin Scott Video Analyst[2]   Scotland
James Robson Head Doctor[2]   Scotland
Gary O'Driscoll Doctor[2][3]   Ireland
Phil Pask Physiotherapist[2][4]   England
Stuart Barton Physio/Masseur[2][5]   Scotland
Bob Stewart Physio / Masseur[2]   Scotland
Richard Wegrzyk Masseur[2]   England
John Feehan Chief Executive[2]   Ireland
Richard Smith Legal Support[2][6]   England
Louisa Cheetham Media Officer[2]   United States
Alastair Campbell Press relations[2][7]   England
Dave Campbell Chef[2]   England
Dave Tennison Kit Technician[2]   England



23 May 2005
20:00 BST
British and Irish Lions 25–25   Argentina
Try: Smith
Con: Wilkinson
Pen: Wilkinson (6)
Report[8] Try: Núñez Piossek
Con: Todeschini
Pen: Todeschini (6)

The Lions drew with the Pumas of Argentina at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on 23 May in a warm-up Test match. The Pumas were without 25 players who may have made their first-choice team due to club commitments and the Lions rested many of their top players to field a second-string combination. Tour captain Brian O'Driscoll was rested, so Wales vice-captain Michael Owen took his place.

The Lions looked disjointed, turning over the ball 15 times in open play. Their pack was outplayed; the Pumas shoved them off their own scrum three times. The Lions also conceded five penalties for holding on to the ball while grounded, usually because their support failed to arrive in time. In the meantime, the Pumas played a match that was almost universally called "inspired" by rugby media worldwide. The Pumas led 19–16 at half-time, and could easily have been ahead by more. The main plus for the Lions was the performance of Jonny Wilkinson, making his first appearance against international opposition since the 2003 World Cup, who set up their first try, converted it, and kicked six penalties. His last penalty saved the Lions from defeat, salvaging a 25–25 draw in the eighth minute of stoppage time. The match was granted full test status by the IRB in 2006.[9]

Bay of Plenty SteamersEdit

4 June 2005
19:10 NZST
Bay of Plenty Steamers 20–34 British and Irish Lions
Try: Williams
Con: Williams (2)
Pen: Williams (2)
Report[10] Try: Lewsey (2)
Con: O'Gara (2)

The first tour match was against the Bay of Plenty Steamers on 4 June in Rotorua. The Lions started the match strongly, with Josh Lewsey scoring a try after two minutes and then a second four minutes later. The Lions were up 17–0 after 11 minutes but the Steamers recovered for a 17–17 half-time score. The Lions controlled the second half and won 34–20. A significant injury was the fractured ankle suffered by experienced back-rower Lawrence Dallaglio, who had to withdraw from the tour.


Taranaki hosted the Lions on 8 June at New Plymouth. The first half was closely fought in more ways than one, as the Lions' Danny Grewcock and Taranaki's Paul Tito came to blows. The Amber and Blacks had a 7–6 lead at half time but soon after the break Martin Corry scored a Lions' try. Shortly afterwards, Taranaki's Andrew Hore was sin-binned for holding the ball, and the Lions took control. Consensus man of the match Charlie Hodgson kicked two penalties during Hore's absence, and the Lions kept their momentum even after Hore returned. Shane Horgan added a try and Geordan Murphy two as the Lions won 36–14.

New Zealand MāoriEdit

The Lions forwards are held in a maul by the New Zealand Maori

The Maori match at Hamilton on 11 June promised to be the most competitive test lead-up, being billed by rugby media as virtually a fourth Test. In the first half, the Maori had the better of possession and tackling, but the Lions had the better of the set pieces, and the half ended 6–6.

Just before the break, the Lions' Andrew Sheridan was sin-binned for punching Maori Luke McAlister. When the sin-bin period ended Sheridan was replaced by Gethin Jenkins. A McAlister penalty shortly afterwards, a Leon MacDonald try (converted by McAlister), and then a second McAlister penalty, gave the Maori a 19–6 lead. The last 15 minutes were the Lions' best period, rewarded by a Brian O'Driscoll try which was converted by Stephen Jones. The Lions threatened strongly but the Maori, inspired by their replacement first-five Carlos Spencer and stalwart captain Jono Gibbes, held on for a historic 19–13 win - their first ever over the Lions.

Wellington LionsEdit

After the loss to the Maori, the British & Irish Lions went to Wellington to take on the city's NPC side, the Wellington Lions, on 15 June. The British & Irish Lions team was selected primarily from players in contention for the Test team, including Jonny Wilkinson in his first tour match.

The British and Irish Lions had most of the possession and scoring chances, but committed numerous unforced errors when points looked likely. Tries came from Gethin Jenkins and Gareth Thomas, both converted by Wilkinson who also scored three penalties. The British & Irish Lions' 23–6 win, while seemingly showing their tour was back on track, left almost as many questions as answers. In post-match comments, O'Driscoll said "The ball was like a bar of soap out there and both sides made a lot of unforced errors," and Wellington Lions coach John Plumtree remarked, "The All Blacks would have put 50 or 60 points on us."


In their first appearance in the South Island the Lions played Otago on 18 June at Carisbrook Stadium. The stadium is known to visiting teams as the "House of Pain", particularly for the Lions who lost games to the Otago side on four previous tours. Otago began strongly and the Lions were penalised four times in the first eleven minutes, Otago converting two. The Lions' stronger scrum play brought them back into the game, and the first half was closely fought, ending 13–13. The Lions clearly had the momentum, as Will Greenwood had scored a try, converted by Charlie Hodgson, just before the break.

Otago took a 16–13 lead shortly after half-time, but strong Lions scrum play led to a try by man of the match Ryan Jones, who put himself in contention for a Test position. The try and Hodgson's conversion gave the Lions a solid, though far from insurmountable, lead. Otago rallied to 20–19 with a penalty, but the Lions pulled away soon afterwards. A Hodgson penalty, Shane Williams try and Hodgson conversion took the final margin to 30–19.

Southland StagsEdit

The Southland match at Invercargill on 21 June was the last before the first Test. Lions coach Clive Woodward announced that no players in the night's line-up would play in the Test. In the first 15 minutes, the Lions looked formidable as they took an early 10–0 lead over the Stags, keyed by a Gavin Henson try. However, they became disjointed and by half-time had turned over the ball 14 times and were considered lucky to be ahead 10–3 at the break.

The first few minutes of the second half were even worse for the Lions, as Hale T-Pole scored a converted try. Woodward immediately substituted four players to settle down his team. T-Pole made an interception to save a Mark Cueto try, but the Lions kept the pressure on, and Henson scored his second try. The Lions then changed tactics, choosing to kick for territory more often, and were never truly threatened again, winning by 26–16.

First TestEdit

25 June 2005
19:00 NZST
New Zealand   21–3 British and Irish Lions
Try: Sivivatu
Con: Carter
Pen: Carter (3)
Report[12] Pen: Wilkinson
Jade Stadium, Christchurch
Attendance: 37,200[13]
Referee: Joël Jutge (France)

Less than two minutes into this match against the All Blacks on 25 June at Jade Stadium in Christchurch, the Lions lost their captain Brian O'Driscoll, who suffered a dislocated shoulder after contact by Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu. Eight minutes into the game, Daniel Carter opened the scoring for the All Blacks with a penalty. Three minutes later, the Lions suffered a further blow when Paul O'Connell was sin-binned for a professional foul, and Carter kicked the penalty. Already a player short, the Lions then lost Richard Hill to injury. Ali Williams scored the first All Blacks try shortly after O'Connell returned, and the half ended with the Lions down 11–0.

Carter kicked a penalty in the second half, followed by a converted try from Sitiveni Sivivatu to end the All Blacks' scoring, and Jonny Wilkinson kicked a penalty in the 56th minute to provide the Lions with their only points of the night. The 21–3 win was considered by almost every commentator to be even more one-sided than the score indicated. The Lions' sloppy set-piece play included ten losses of their own line-outs.

It was announced post-match that three injured Lions were out for the rest of the tour—O'Driscoll and Hill from incidents in the match, and Tom Shanklin for inflammation from an existing knee injury. Also, Danny Grewcock was suspended for two months after he was cited for biting All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu.

O'Driscoll injury incidentEdit

The match was marked by controversy. New Zealand captain Tana Umaga and hooker Keven Mealamu were accused of a spear tackle in the incident that ended O'Driscoll's tour. At a ruck early in the match, Mealamu and Umaga attempted to clear O'Driscoll from the ruck, each lifting one of his legs before driving him towards the ground. O'Driscoll's shoulder was dislocated upon landing. Opinions differed on the incident. The Lions staff, and many British and Irish commentators believed that it was an illegal "spear tackle" and Lions coach Woodward reported the pair to the IRB's citing commissioner, William Venter. He decided, based on the video footage available, not to refer the matter to a disciplinary tribunal. New Zealand commentators largely took the view that the two All Blacks were just clearing out the ruck and had no intention to injure O'Driscoll. However, four months later the International Rugby Board clearly condemned Umaga and Mealamu's action.

Manawatu TurbosEdit

The Lions scored their first convincing tour victory in this game at Palmerston North against NPC second division side Manawatu Turbos, winning 109–6. They led 38–6 at half time and scored 71 unanswered points in the second. Welshman Shane Williams scored five tries to help the Lions post their all-time record score in New Zealand, surpassing their 64–5 victory over Marlborough/Nelson 46 years ago.

Tries were shared by Williams (5), Ronan O'Gara (2), Mark Cueto (2), Geordan Murphy, Charlie Hodgson, Jason Robinson, Martin Corry, Neil Back, Gareth Cooper, Gordon D'Arcy and Ollie Smith, with Manawatu restricted to two Jonathan Hargreaves penalties.

Lock Donncha O'Callaghan and flanker Martyn Williams both retired at half-time but had impressed enough to secure Test selection for the next Saturday. Murphy also impressed at full-back but it was wing Williams, with elusive running and awareness, who most thrilled Lions supporters.

Second TestEdit

2 July 2005
19:00 NZST
New Zealand   48–18 British and Irish Lions
Try: Carter (2)
Con: Carter (4)
Pen: Carter (5)
Report[14] Try: Easterby
Con: Wilkinson
Pen: Wilkinson (2)

From the high point against Manawatu, the Lions fell to a low in the second Test at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on 2 July, losing 48–18 and conceding the highest number of points against a New Zealand team in a Test.

Woodward selected a radically different Test squad from the one that had been embarrassed in Christchurch a week earlier, replacing eleven players. Key to the Lions' hopes of staying in the series was Woodward's decision to add several of the Welsh team that won the Grand Slam in the 2005 Six Nations.

The Lions started strongly, with captain Gareth Thomas scoring a try under the posts and Jonny Wilkinson converting two minutes in. A minute later, Wilkinson hit the post with a penalty attempt, but gathering the rebound the Lions were in a good attacking position when Paul O'Connell was penalised for diving over a ruck. The All Blacks settled down and then scored through two Daniel Carter penalties before he set up their first try, racing 50 metres off a turnover before offloading to captain Tana Umaga to score near the posts. Although the rest of the half remained close, the All Blacks went into the break with a 21–13 lead.

The second half turned into a showcase for New Zealand in general and Carter in particular. He scored two tries, converted three, kicked two penalties, and constantly kept the Lions on the back foot with his distribution. Flanker Richie McCaw powered his way over for a try after Carter missed a hat trick by a matter of inches. Rugby media were in virtually unanimous agreement that the Lions were greatly improved and that the All Blacks were dominant. Carter's tally of 33 points broke the all-time record for points by an All Black against the Lions.


Auckland v Lions

Having lost the Test series on the previous Saturday, the mid-week Lions came to Eden Park with something to prove. Refereed by New Zealander Steve Walsh, the match was marked by the Lions' inability to find touch and Auckland's willingness to attack and run the angles. Auckland gave up some guaranteed points from early penalties to take the Lions on in set piece play. Auckland tighthead prop John Afoa was denied a try after a tap and run saw him held up in goal. A series of handling errors throughout the first half let Auckland down and saw the Lions to a 14–3 lead at the half. The second half saw the Lions give away points to a stoic Auckland pack and the scoreline was narrowed to 14–13 Lions lead. A late Ronan O'Gara penalty saw the Lions extend to a 4-point winning margin of 17–13. This victory completed an impressive clean sweep of matches for the mid week Lions against host Unions throughout New Zealand.

Third TestEdit

9 July 2005
19:00 NZST
New Zealand   38–19 British and Irish Lions
Try: Gear
Umaga (2)
Con: McAlister (5)
Pen: McAlister
Report[16] Try: Moody
Con: S. Jones
Pen: S. Jones (4)
Eden Park, Auckland
Attendance: 48,533[17]
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)

Following two early penalties by Stephen Jones, the Lions led 6–0 and things looked promising for them. All Black captain Tana Umaga was sin-binned for killing the ball, but even without their captain, the All Blacks managed to score two tries, by Conrad Smith and Ali Williams, both converted by Luke McAlister. The Lions were awarded two more penalties, which Stephen Jones kicked, but just before the break, Umaga scored a try to give the All Blacks a half-time lead of 24–12.

Seven minutes into the second half Umaga scored another try. Soon after, scrum-half Byron Kelleher was replaced by Justin Marshall, who then played his final half-hour of All Black rugby. Another All Black try was thwarted when Jerry Collins was sin-binned for a late tackle. The All Blacks then spent several minutes defending as the Lions pushed towards the line from within ten meters, and after a long struggle Lewis Moody managed to score, making it 31–19. Both sides made errors that cost them tries. Sitiveni Sivivatu had two very close calls but it was Rico Gear who followed his own deep kick to toe the ball over the line and score a fine individual try. McAlister converted, giving him a 100 percent kicking rate, to make the full-time score 38–19.

Lions anthemEdit

Sir Clive Woodward commissioned an anthem, The Power of Four, specially for the 2005 tour. Neil Myers composed the tune, and the piece was performed for the first time in public by Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins before the Lions' match against Argentina at the Millennium Stadium in 2005. It was played before all games on the tour, but was not used in the Lions tour to South Africa in 2009.


  1. ^ Davies, Sean (20 June 2008). "2005 Lions History". BBC News. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
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  3. ^ "Openshaw family GP who tended to Lions – News – North and East Manchester Advertiser". Archived from the original on 5 September 2012. Retrieved 2009-03-23.
  4. ^ "Witty Pask and Buckingham – Northampton based Physiotherapists for Individuals, World Class Sport and Industry". Archived from the original on 28 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-23.
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  6. ^ judy. "Microsoft Word – Richard Smith QC – FINAL – July 08 – Formatted" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-23.
  7. ^ "Alastair Campbell". Archived from the original on 18 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-23.
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  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 28 June 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "New Zealand 21-3 Lions". 25 June 2005. Retrieved 14 September 2017 – via news.bbc.co.uk.
  13. ^ "New Zealand All Blacks Player Profiles, Match Details and Statistics". Stats.allblacks.com. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  14. ^ "New Zealand 48-18 Lions". 2 July 2005. Retrieved 14 September 2017 – via news.bbc.co.uk.
  15. ^ "New Zealand All Blacks Player Profiles, Match Details and Statistics". Stats.allblacks.com. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  16. ^ "New Zealand 38-19 Lions". 9 July 2005. Retrieved 14 September 2017 – via news.bbc.co.uk.
  17. ^ "New Zealand All Blacks Player Profiles, Match Details and Statistics". Stats.allblacks.com. Retrieved 18 June 2013.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
2001 Tour to Australia
Tour to New Zealand
Succeeded by
2009 Tour to South Africa