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The Rugby League Lions roared with pride at their annual reunion lunch in January when 450 people came together for a memorable event held at The Edge in Wigan.


1984 Lions on stage


The Association was founded in 1945 to reunite players and staff who had been selected for tours and international tournaments held in the southern hemisphere since 1910.


The annual luncheon has become one of the must-attend events in the sport’s calendar and this year’s sell-out audience enjoyed a memorable afternoon of storytelling, laughter and camaraderie.


Over 60 Lions were present, the oldest Billy Boston MBE, who first toured with Great Britain in 1954, and the youngest Rory Judge, Great Britain’s content manager on the 2019 tour.


The luncheon featured celebrations the 50th anniversary of the 1974 tour and the 40th anniversary of the 1984 tour, and saw players from both tours take to the stage to share their memories after watching video highlights of the respective Test series.


The Lions Association. Also awarded heritage certificates to Lions making their first appearance at the luncheon: these included five-time tourist Prof Chris Brookes, aka The Doc; 1988 tourist Paul Groves; and Martin Offiah MBE who, in a touching moment, received his certificate from the great Billy Boston MBE.


Billy Boston Martin Offiah


RL Lions Association secretary John Ledger said: “The luncheon was a wonderful occasion which underlined the value of reunion events.


“There are very few opportunities for retired players to get together and enjoy each other’s company, other than funerals for the older players, and it was great to see so many old friendships being rekindled, and new friendships forged among players from different generations.


“All the Lions, from the very first tourists in 1910 through our oldest members Billy Boston, Neil Fox and Lewis Jones to all the players on the 2019 tour, share the same thread of sporting DNA and it’s a real privilege to see them celebrate that common link together.”


The Lions luncheon was sponsored by Ellis Rugby and supported by Rugby League Cares and the Rugby Football League. The next reunion luncheon will be held on Saturday January 25, 2025, at a venue yet to be decided.




"Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain.

It’s not something you learn in school.

But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything"


- Muhammad Ali



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