Lee Byrne

Lee Martin Byrne (born 1 June 1980) is a Welsh former professional rugby union and rugby league footballer who played in the 2000s and 2010s.

Lee Byrne
Birth nameLee Martin Byrne
Date of birth (1980-06-01) 1 June 1980 (age 40)
Place of birthBridgend, South Wales.
Height191 cm (6 ft 3 in)
Weight98 kg (15 st 6 lb)
SchoolSt Marys RC Primary School, Archbishop McGrath Roman Catholic Comprehensive School
SpouseAndrea Byrne (m.2012)
Occupation(s)Owner, BridgePort360 (Property & Construction)
Rugby union career
Position(s) Fullback, Wing
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
- Tondu RFC
Bridgend Athletic
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
Llanelli RFC
NG Dragons
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
British and Irish Lions
Correct as of 24 November 2011

Byrne started his career playing rugby union for Bridgend Athletic RFC;[1] and Tondu RFC, as a full-back or wing, and after being spotted playing rugby league for Bridgend Blue Bulls, he signed for the Llanelli Scarlets.

Following his good performances for the Llanelli Scarlets in both the Celtic League, and the Heineken Cup during the 2005–06 season, he was called up to the national squad for the November Test series. He made his début as a replacement against the All Blacks on 5 November at the Millennium Stadium. Wales lost 3–41. He also played in the win over Fiji, and the defeat by South Africa. He has since played during the 2006 Six Nations Championship, and earned a further two caps in a mid-year series against Argentina. His sole appearance in the 2006 Autumn internationals was on the wing against the Pacific Islands. Byrne was a revelation in the 2008 Six Nations Championship tournament at full back and a key component of Wales' Grand Slam.

While playing against Connacht in 2007, Byrne demonstrated his abilities as a stand-in kicker when he kicked two penalties and two conversions after fly-half Shaun Connor went off injured. He scored tries against England and Italy in the 2008 Six Nations Championship. Following his superb performances for Wales in the 2008 Autumn Internationals against South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia (which included a try against the latter), Byrne had been tipped not only for a place in the British and Irish Lions squad, but also a place in the starting 15.[2] This was confirmed on 21 April 2009, when Byrne, along with Ireland's Rob Kearney, were selected as one of the British and Irish Lions' fullbacks for the tour. After the fourth tour match he was one of five players to be picked for three of them.[3]

He caused controversy again in February 2010 during the Scotland match when Scotland's coach Andy Robinson accused Byrne of diving to get substitute fly-half Phil Godman sent off and give Wales a penalty, from which they scored and went on to win the match.[4]

Given permission to seek a new club for the 2011–12 season, Byrne signed a three-year deal to play for French club ASM Clermont Auvergne, where he will play his club rugby post the 2011 Rugby World Cup.[5]

On 8 January 2014, it was reported that Byrne had agreed to join Newport Gwent Dragons from the end of the 2013–14 season.[6]

On 23 April 2015, it was announced Byrne was to retire from all rugby with immediate effect, after failing to recover from a shoulder injury.[7]


It was announced in March 2011 that Byrne had become engaged to ITV Wales Tonight presenter Andrea Benfield; they married on New Year's Day 2012.[8]

Byrne has spoken publicly about his dyslexia. It has caused him some setbacks - "There were a couple of times where I would go out and the French players would say I wasn’t picking up French very easily. I remember one of the players saying I was lazy and I wasn’t learning. Obviously there was a reason because of my dyslexia, so that upset me a little bit" - but it has not been exclusively a negative for him - "I could see space before it happened - quicker than anybody else - so in a way I suppose it was a gift for me."[9]

In November 2017, Lee Byrne published his autobiography, The Byrne Identity.[10] Sections from it were serialised over four issues of The Western Mail (Wales).[11][12]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 July 2008. Retrieved 8 February 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Jeremy Guscott column on the BBC
  3. ^ "No let up for O'Connell". Sky Sports. 8 June 2009. Archived from the original on 7 August 2011. Retrieved 9 June 2009.
  4. ^ "Robinson accuses Byrne over sin-binning". BBC News. 13 February 2010. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 September 2012. Retrieved 12 November 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Newport Gwent Dragons sign Wales' Lee Byrne and Aled Brew". BBC. 8 January 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  7. ^ "Lee Byrne: Injury forces Dragons' ex-Wales star to retire". BBC Sport. 23 April 2015.
  8. ^ http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2011/03/27/welsh-rugby-star-lee-byrne-proposes-to-tv-presenter-andrea-benfield-before-move-to-france-91466-28409942/
  9. ^ http://www.itv.com/news/wales/2016-03-14/dyslexia-and-me-rugby-star-byrne-on-life-with-the-condition/
  10. ^ "The Byrne Identity, Y Lolfa 2017". Archived from the original on 29 August 2018. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  11. ^ 'Lee Byrne autobiography: Rob Howley left me humiliated in front of team-mates and my Wales career was over'
  12. ^ http://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/wru-chiefs-meet-lee-byrne-13791869/ 'WRU chiefs to meet Lee Byrne following claims about Rob Howley in explosive new book'

External linksEdit