Wednesday 13 November 2019

Willie John McBride

Willie John McBride
Willie John McBride

In a period when Ireland were more likely to miss than hit whatever they were aiming at, it followed that they didn't have an abundance of quality.

'World class' wasn't a term much used back then, and newspapers didn't get their readers on board with requests to send in their World XV.

If they had, the only Irishman who would have been a contender apart from Mike Gibson was the Ballymena second row.

He was very much a creature of his time: a man's man who started on the premise that if he had to floor his opposite number then that was ok.

There was a lot of that in a game with light touch regulation. McBride had a heavy hand in contact. Out of contact, he was a much better handler than many of his peers.

The Lions tours of 1971 and 1974 were brutally-physical affairs but there were lots of incidents on both where McBride could cope with the ball in his hands in pressured situations.

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