1896 the first Lions tour to South Africa to include the Irish

In 1896 the British Isles team returned to tour South Africa as it had now become. They played one extra match on this tour, making the total number of games 21, these included four tests against South Africa, with the British Isles winning three of them and losing one.The squad on this occasion included some Irish players, with the Irish national team contributing six players to the 21-man squad, following their success with two championships and a triple crown in the preceding three seasons.

This tour went unbeaten in their 17 provincial games, scoring 204 points and conceding just 45. The tour was led by Johnny Hammond as Captain and he had experience having been part of the 1891 trip as had one other tourist Froude Hancock. South Africa improved their standard of play over the course of this test series and scored their first international try in the second test, and then went on to win one test 5-0 at Newlands. However this may have been helped by the Lions having a powerful pack with Ireland’s Tommy Crean the stand out player, but a weak back line. The Lions won the first test 0-8, the second 8-17 and the third 3-9 until going down at Newlands 5-0.