1891 - First official British Lions’ tour, to South Africa

1891 saw the first officially-sanctioned British rugby tour, with a 21-man party invited to South Africa by the Western Province union and all costs underwritten by the Cape Colony Prime Minister, Cecil Rhodes.

As the British tourists travelled under the auspices of the RFU, the party was initially billed as the English Rugby Football Team. However, there were four Scots in the squad, including the captain, Bill Maclagan, so the tour was retrospectively recognised as the first British Lions' tour.

At the time of the tour Maclagan was playing at London Scottish, but he was an Academical and had played for EAFC between 1876 and 1880. He received 25 caps for Scotland and captained his country in 1884 and 1889/90.

Maclagan's men played 20 matches, including the first three Test matches. At this stage, South African rugby was not on a par with that of the Home Unions - although future British tourists would find they were quick to catch-up - and the visitors saw off all-comers, scoring 224 points to one and winning all three Tests.

The tourists left a permanent legacy of their visit: the Currie Cup, a silver trophy presented to Griqualand West as the province producing the best performance they faced, and which remains South African rugby's biggest domestic prize.