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Blair Swannell
  • Played116


Years: 1896-1904
British & Irish Lions tours: Australia 1899, New Zealand 1904

Blair Swannell is one of the most colourful and adventurous men ever to have played for Northampton Saints.

In 1899, he was selected to play for the British & Irish Lions against Australia – making him not only the Club’s first Lion, but also their first international. He toured twice with the Lions – to Australia in 1899, and to Australia and New Zealand in 1904.

Swannell’s appearances for the Club were restricted to 116 due to travelling the world in the merchant navy, the Boer War, and other overseas adventures – but he made his mark.

A legendary character, he was loved at Saints but feared by opponents. His record with the Lions is as good as any, playing in seven Tests and winning six.

After the 1904 tour he stayed in Sydney to teach at St Joseph’s College. He played regularly for local Sydney clubs and New South Wales, and became the first Saintsman to play for the Wallabies in 1905 against New Zealand.

Having earlier served in the Boer War, Swannell joined the 1st Battalion, Australian Infantry in 1914 and was given the rank of major. He was killed by a Turkish sniper while leading his men at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.

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