Meet the Springbok who’s great-grandfather played for the British & Irish Lions

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The British & Irish Lions’ tour to South Africa next year will be extra special for one member of the Springboks’ 2019 Rugby World Cup-winning squad.

Jesse Kriel revealed on Twitter that his great-grandfather, John Hodgson, played in the famous red jersey against the All Blacks and Wallabies 90 years ago.

Hodgson, a loose forward who played his English club rugby for Northumbrian side Northern, featured in the 6-3 victory over New Zealand in Dunedin and the 15-10 loss to the All Blacks in Auckland in 1930.

In total, the Gosforth-born flanker made 15 appearances for the British & Irish Lions, scoring nine points.

He also represented England between 1932-1936, earning seven caps, including being part of the England team which played against the 1932 Springboks in London on January 2, 1932.

“I think it’s pretty special, really, knowing that he played for the Lions,” Kriel told the official Springbok website.

Kriel went on to explain that relatives in England initially wanted to present Hodgson’s Lions cap to his grandfather David’s sister Diana, but because of the international travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was decided to rather send it via post to South Africa, where it safely arrived a few days ago.

“You can imagine how pleased she was – proud and a bit emotional when the package was delivered,” said Kriel from Tokyo where he is currently playing for the Canon Eagles.

“It made for some nice discussions on the family’s group chat on WhatsApp.

“I just thought it would be nice to share the moment on Twitter, especially with the Lions’ tour South Africa on the horizon.”

Kriel’s twin-brother, Dan, previously played with him for the Bulls in Pretoria and while Jesse has since made Japan his rugby home, Dan moved to Cape Town where he played for Western Province, and then to the Lions in Johannesburg, whom he captained recently.

The Kriel twins represented the Junior Springboks at the World Rugby U20 championship in New Zealand in 2014, where they defeated their New Zealand hosts twice before suffering a close fought loss to England U20 in the final at Eden Park.

John McDonald Hodgson was born on February 13, 1909 in Gosforth, England and passed away on April 21, 1970.

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