50 years ago today Ronnie Lamont played in the first of four tests for the British & Irish Lions against the All Blacks. He had been selected for the epic 1966 Lions to tour Australia, New Zealand and Canada, which saw them play thirty five matches, winning twenty-three, losing nine and drawing three.
The lionsrugby.com website records that the 1966 Lions had star quality in their backline in the shape of stand-off David Watkins and centre Mike Gibson, while the pack boasted players of the class of Willie John McBride, Alun Pask, Brian Price, Jim Telfer, Ray McLoughlin, Ronnie Lamont and Noel Murphy.
Ronnie played in 15 games on the tour, 2 in Australia and 13 in New Zealand, including all four Internationals against New Zealand, scoring 7 tries, one in a Test Match. His impact on his New Zealand opponents saw him selected by the 1967 New Zealand Rugby Almanac as one of its five players of the year. This achievement took into account playing abilities, leadership, conduct, sportsmanship and services to the game in general. The history of ‘Inst Rugby 1872-2012’, records Ronnie Lamont as the 11th former pupil of RBAI to play for the Lions.
Alongside representing the Lions, Ronnie Lamont played club rugby for Instonians RFC and was capped twelve times for Ireland between 1965 and 1970, winning seven caps as a number eight and five as a flanker. He scored one try for Ireland.
Ronnie was a teacher at Throne Primary School, Whitewell Road, Newtownabbey, when selected as a Lion, he taught there between 1964 and 1970, before taking up a post as Principal of Springhill Primary School in Belfast. Many wonderful tributes have been paid over the years to Ronnie Lamont as a Rugby player and Teacher/ Principal, one worthy of particular note reads -
“The only flaw I can find in him is that he's one of the "Master Race", as they're known.
All I'll say is that, if all Instonians were like Ronnie, they'd be in danger of being liked!!
Lions 1966 Matches played by Ronnie Lamont & tries scored:
May 11 v South Australia W 38-11 1 Try
May 31 v Queensland W 26-3
June 15 v South Canterbury, North Otago & Mid Canterbury W 20-12
June 18 v Otago L 9-17
July 9 v North Auckland W 6-3 1 Try
July 16 v New Zealand L 3-20
July 20 v West Coast-Buller W 25-6 2 Tries
July 23 v Canterbury W 8-6
July 30 v Auckland W 12-6 1 Try
August 6 v New Zealand L 12-16
August 13 v Maoris W 16-14
August 20 v Hawke's Bay D 11-11 1 Try
August 27 v New Zealand L 6-19 1 Try
September 3 v Waikato W 20-9
September 10 v New Zealand L 11-24