When Michael Jones burst onto the scene at RWC 1987, many thought they were seeing the greatest player that would ever wear the Number 7 jersey on a rugby field. For a time they were correct.

That was until Richie McCaw turned up and put in remarkable performance, after remarkable performance. There is not a single thing that can be said about him that will add to his aura, legacy, or greatness. Quite simply put; the greatest player New Zealand and possibly any country has ever produced.

McCaw scores a try during the 2nd test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the British and Irish Lions at Westpac Stadium in Wellington. Photo:Andrew Cornaga/PHOTOSPORT
McCaw scores a try during the 2nd test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the British and Irish Lions at Westpac Stadium in Wellington. Photo:Andrew Cornaga/PHOTOSPORT

Selection of the openside for the Lions is much more difficult. There have been seven different Lions to wear the Number 7 jersey in the 15 tests and 20 years of professionalism. Sam Warburton even captained the Lions from that position in 2013.

It is however, the first man to wear the jersey on the 1997 tour that we have gone with, even though he made his name largely as a Number 6 for England. This man is the only player that Sir Clive Woodward never dropped when he was coach of England.

Only player never dropped by Woodward for England

Richard Hill was instrumental in the 1997 series victory, playing in the first two tests, which were won by the Lions. He had only made his debut for England at the beginning of the season but such was his form it was impossible for Iain McGeechan to leave him out. He went on to play all three of the Lions tests in 2001, albeit the second test was from the blindside position.

Any man who can keep Neil Back out of a Number 7 jersey will always have our vote!

Richard Hill playing against BOP in Rotorua, 2005. COPYRIGHT: FOTOSPORT/MATT IMPEY
Richard Hill playing against BOP in Rotorua, 2005. COPYRIGHT: FOTOSPORT/MATT IMPEY

The professional era teams to date…

All Blacks

1. Tony Woodcock
2. Dane Coles
3. Carl Hayman
4. Brodie Retallick
5. Sam Whitelock
6. Jerry Collins
7. Richie McCaw (c)

Lions

1. Tom Smith
2. Keith Wood
3. Phil Vickery
4. Martin Johnson (c)
5. Paul O’Connell
6. Lawrence Dallaglio
7. Richard Hill

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Author: Steven Prescott

I am a total sports fanatic; it is as simple as that. I love all sports, and when I’m not sitting at my computer living my dream with The 1014, I am planning adventures. The last time I did this I ended up convincing my wife to cycle 26,125km across three continents, and 22 countries with me as part of the Pedalling Prescotts.

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