More than 50 players with Leicester Tigers connections are among the British & Irish Lions who are being recognised for their contribution with the award of ceremonial caps.
As members of the 1888 Club, 419 living and the next of kin of 416 deceased Lions will receive a one-off, hand-stitched cap that bears the unique playing number awarded only to players who have played competitively in the iconic jersey.
They include the 39 players who toured with the Lions while playing their rugby at Tigers: Rodger Arneil, Neil Back, George Beamish, Dan Cole, Martin Corry, Tom Croft, Paul Dodge, Harry Ellis, Bernard Gadney, Will Greenwood, Dusty Hare, Austin Healey, Alfred Hind, Phil Horrocks-Taylor, John Jackett, Fred Jackson, Martin Johnson, Ben Kay, Douglas ‘Joe’ Kendrew, Eric Miller, Lewis Moody, Geordan Murphy, Alan Old, Geoff Parling, Doug Prentice, Dean Richards, Graham Rowntree, Ollie Smith, Tom Smith, Manu Tuilagi, Rory Underwood, Tony Underwood, Dorian West, Peter Wheeler, Julian White, Kenneth Wood, Clive Woodward, Ben Youngs and Tom Youngs.
A further 17 Tigers players have toured with the Lions but not while playing for the Leicester club will receive caps, including recent tourists Darren Morris, Tim Stimpson and Billy Twelvetrees.
Tigers players past and present have been taking to social media to post photos of their cap and their reaction.
Club captain Tom Youngs was among the first to receive his. Youngs tweeted: “Just awesome @lionsofficial thanks for the wonderful memories.”
Tigers coach and former captain Murphy added: "Thank you @lionsofficial Brought back some great memories. Honoured to be a part of it #1888club"
His former team-mate Moody, who played in three Tests on the 2005 tour to New Zealand, added the video below to Twitter.
Thanks @britishandirishlions for allowing me this moment and making 2 boys very excited on their way to school. Had to explain to my youngest he hadn’t just got the call up though!!!!🙄😂😂 #specialmoments #lions #723 #rugbyfamily #rugby #history pic.twitter.com/klmQ0wozvx— Lewis Moody (@LewisMoody7) May 15, 2018
Croft, who toured South Africa in 2009 and Australia in 2013, tweeted: “An incredible honour and memories that’ll last a lifetime!! #1888club.”
Back, who won five caps across three tours between 1997 and 2005 and is the oldest Lion to play in a Test, posted on social media: “Super proud to receive @lionsofficial #1888Lions #674 Cap #SA1997 #AUS2001 #NZ2005 ....thanks for the amazing memories.”
The recognition coincides with the 130-year anniversary of the first British & Irish Lions game against Otago in Dunedin on April 28, 1888.
Lions chairman Tom Grace, Lion #524, said: "We are recognising the contribution of all those who have crossed the touchline in a Lions jersey since 1888.
"We felt that in was in keeping with the universally recognised process of acknowledging that someone has played for an international team to formally award Lions caps for the first time."
In addition to the ceremonial cap and presentation box, the Lions or next of kin will receive a recognition letter from Grace, a copy of the team photo from their tour(s) and the latest edition of Lions Tales, the annual publication exclusive to 1888 Club members.