Lions in Australia

Local duo make Lions history

2013-06-20 14:40
Brad Barritt (File)
Cape Town - Brad Barritt and Matt Stevens are the first ever rugby players from the same school outside the United Kingdom to have formed part of a British and Irish Lions squad at the same time.

Barritt, 25, and Stevens, 29, both Durban-born, were schooled at Kearsney College in KwaZulu-Natal  and are part of the touring Lions squad currently in Australia.

The Lions are scheduled to play the first Test against the Wallabies in Brisbane this Saturday, with the remaining two Tests in Melbourne (June 29) and Sydney (July 6).

Last year Barritt and Stevens made history when they were both selected for the England squad to play in the Six Nations clash against Scotland at Murrayfield in Edinburgh.

Barritt played 1st team rugby at Kearsney for two years, captaining the team in his Matric year, and also played 1st team cricket. A hooker until Under-15 level, he was selected for the KZN Craven Week, SA Schools and Sharks Under-19 sides. Not only did he shine on the sports fields, but he was head of house and received five distinctions in Matric.

Barend Steyn, his 1st XV coach at Kearsney, said he was “a most intelligent rugby player. His commitment and discipline were exemplary and he always put in extra time and effort”.

A playmaker and vice-captain of the Sharks, Barritt made a vivid impression at the age of 21 before joining Saracens. He had been a regular in the Sharks' Super 14 and Currie Cup squads after his debut in 2006 with his direct running, physical edge, distribution skills and ability to control games.

The Sharks released him early from his contract which still had a year to run, in the interests of his own development as a player. Currently playing for Saracens, Barritt said his old Kearsney war-cry “Jumela Jai Jumela Jai” is now sung at Saracens.

Stevens remains the most capped Kearsney player in the history of the school, having played in the 1st XV for four seasons, captaining in 2000 and 2001. At school he was selected for KZN Craven week, SA Academy Under-18 (captain) and SA Under-19, and was head of house as well as head of choir.

Steyn remembers him as a very committed and strong scrummager, with extraordinary ball and running skills for a forward.

A former Bath player who now also plays for Saracens, Stevens can play on either side of the scrum. He had a meteoric rise into the England strata, made his debut against New Zealand nine years ago and played in seven RWC matches in 2007, including the final against South Africa when being used as a replacement for his captain Phil Vickery.

A forward of immense stature and a powerful runner with ball in hand, he joined Bath in 2002 after representing the Junior Springboks. Stevens has a BSc in Politics and Economics from Bath University and reached the final of ITV's Celebrity X-Factor, raising £125 000 (R1.5m) for the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund. 

The Lions' first Test against the Wallabies kicks off at 12:00 (SA time) on Saturday. Neither Barritt or Stevens made the match-day 23-man squad.



15 Berrick Barnes, 14 Israel Folau, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Christian Leali'ifano, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 James O'Connor, 9 Will Genia, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Ben Mowen, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Benn Robinson

Substitutes: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 James Slipper, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Pat McCabe, 23 Kurtley Beale

British and Irish Lions:

15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Jonathan Davies, 11 George North, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 Tom Croft, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Alun Wyn Jones, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Alex Corbisiero

Substitutes: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Dan Lydiate, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Sean Maitland

Brad Barritt (right) receives his rugby honours award from Matt Stevens in 2004 (Photo provided by Working Words)


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