Former British & Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton is the host of a new BBC Radio 5 Live podcast mini-series to be released throughout the upcoming Lions tour.
From today, ‘Warburton’s Lions Legends’ will hear Sam speaking to some of the greatest players to ever wear the famous red jersey.
Across four episodes, Sam will interview Sir Gareth Edwards, Martin Johnson, Gavin Hastings and Paul O’Connell. Each player will share memories from past squads, providing an insight into life on the famous Tour.
Sam will also be sharing his own experiences of being a British & Irish Lion, having captained the tours to Australia in 2013 and New Zealand in 2017.
Sam Warburton, speaking about the podcast and his experience of being a Lion, said: “This podcast has been a really eye-opening and enjoyable experience for me because I’ve always been the interviewee. It’s really nice to sit on the other side, be a fan and ask all the questions I didn’t want to ask them when I’ve been at a dinner, or at a match, with them.
“When you speak to any Lion, they hold it in such high regard. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have achieved in the world, the Lions seems to be everybody’s greatest achievement. It is the same whether you played in the 70s, or whether you play now. The challenge of going away from home against top-class sides. That challenge is always enormous. Every player has gone through that pressure and expectation, the time away from family and the sacrifice…you’ve all gone through that together.
“My most vivid memories are the memories of touring – socialising with players, celebrating in the changing rooms, going out on nights out. The memories won’t go away. There are no words that will do it justice, because you just know it is the pinnacle of your career as a British and Irish rugby player.”
From episode one, Sir Gareth Edwards reflects on the infamous Canterbury match in 1971, he says: “You couldn’t believe how physical [some of the matches were]. Boys were losing teeth. Sandy Carmichael unfortunately had five or six fractures on his cheekbone. It was very, very nasty game and indeed they were all embarrassed at the end of the day.”
Discussing the length of the tours in those days, he speaks about how his wife gave birth to his first child whilst he was in South Africa. He remembers being on the way to the first Test, opening the letter and there was a photograph of Owen.
Gareth also considers the future of the Lions Tour, he says: “I don’t know exactly where the tours are going… are they getting shorter? Some people are saying they don’t want them. I still believe it’s the best representation you can have [as a player]…so long may it continue. We still meet and still have dinners. Money couldn’t buy that wonderful experience. It’s almost too difficult to explain to people what it means to be a Lion.”
The four episodes will be released every Wednesday on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Rugby Union Weekly feed, from today until July 28.