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Tony O'Reilly

Nation: Ireland
Place of Birth: Dublin, May 7, 1936
Position: Wing
Internationals: 29 caps between 1955 and 1970
Inducted: February 27, 2010

The following article has been adapted from the original by Dai Llewellyn, which focused on two players. It has been changed to highlight only the selected inductee’s information.

A powerfully built and prolific scorer of tries on the wing, O’Reilly surprisingly never broached the Red Rose defences, home or away. Instead he experienced four defeats at Twickenham, including his final appearance in 1970.

That was still a notable match for the brilliant businessman and former chairman of Heinz. His previous appearance in an Ireland shirt had been seven years earlier in the victory over Wales in Cardiff. That set a record in the Northern Hemisphere for the longest international career, 16 seasons.

Even though he did not score on St Valentine’s Day in 1970, O’Reilly still managed to make his mark on the fixture. Ireland’s legendary lock, Willie John McBride, recalled: “... he turned up at training the week before the match in a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce. He even got the chauffeur to carry his kit into the changing room.”

The former Old Belvedere, Leicester and London Irish player has legendary status in the rugby world, holding the record of having scored six tries in his 10 Lions’ Test appearances. O’Reilly touched down four times in 29 Tests during his distinguished Ireland career, which spanned three decades from 1955 to 1970.

Article by Dai Llewellyn


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