England legend Richard Hill doesn't hesitate when naming his toughest opponent - Ruck

England legend Richard Hill doesn’t hesitate when naming his toughest opponent

Take a look at who retired England, Lions and Saracens legend Richard Hill picked out as his toughest opponents.

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The back-rower ultimate players’ player. Did all the unseen, grafting work and just got on with his job in unassuming fashion, putting his body on the line.

Able to excel right across the back row, he was a pivotal figure on two Lions trips and an England World Cup winner.

Hill, who never liked to parise opponents, broke his own ruled with these three legends.

DID YOU KNOW? He was the only player Sir Clive Woodward never dropped



  • Position: Flanker, Number 8
  • Honours: Australia, 111 caps & Barbarians, 5 caps

Hill said: “I had some pretty good tussles with George Smith. He was only just coming onto the scene, but was obviously already a very good player. His strength was over the ball.

“He always wanted to tackle as a second man, rather than make the tackle himself, so he could concentrate on stealing possession. That meant I had to alter my game and try to remove him from the contact area as quick as possible, rather than actually contest the ball itself.

“He was someone we had to analyse a lot, but every time we found a weakness to his credit he always sorted it out soon afterwards.”

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DID YOU KNOW? He was signed to the ACT Brumbies by Eddie Jones in 1999.


  • Position: Centre
  • Honours: Wales, 53 caps & British & Irish Lions, 5 caps

Hill said: “I’ve never forgotten what he did to us that day at Wembley in 1999. With a guy like Scott Gibbs, you have to bring him down as early as you can but we didn’t lay a finger on him.

“I think he went between me and Rodber, danced to his right past three more wood-be tacklers to scamper in for the winning try.

DID YOU KNOW? He was named player of the series on the 1997 Lions tour of South Africa


  • Position: Flanker
  • Honours: South Africa, 66 caps

Hill said: “I always had a tough battle against him, unlike a lot of South Africans he was a hard but fair player I have always respected. You always knew it was going to be physical and so it proved.”

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DID YOU KNOW? His son, Andre-Hugo Venter, plays for South Africa U20

The current 36-man British & Irish Lions squad for 2025, according to the bookies

We found it intriguing to project a smaller squad based on the favored contenders according to bookmakers’ odds as of April19, 2024.

The Lions will play a New Zealand and Australia invitational XV as part of their nine-match tour down under in 2025. 

The historic fixture in Adelaide will precede Test matches with the Wallabies in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. 

A sell-out at the 100,000-capacity Melbourne Cricket Ground would smash records for a Lions Test match. 

The series finale will be played in front of more than 80,000 fans in Sydney’s Olympic Park.

The 2025 Lions tour fixtures in full

  • Saturday 28 June: v Western Force, Optus Stadium, Perth
  • Wednesday 2 July: v Queensland Reds, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
  • Saturday 5 July: v New South Wales Waratahs, Allianz Stadium, Sydney
  • Wednesday 9 July: v ACT Brumbies, GIO Stadium, Canberra
  • Saturday 12 July: v Invitational Australia & NZ XV, Adelaide Oval
  • Saturday 19 July: First Test, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
  • Tuesday 22 July: v Melbourne Rebels, Marvel Stadium, Melbourne
  • Saturday 26 July: Second Test, Melbourne Cricket Ground
  • Saturday 2 August: Third Test, Accor Stadium, Sydney

The bolded players in our proposed Lions squad represent the starting XV, according to current odds.



  • Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland) – 1/16
  • James Lowe (Ireland) – 1/8
  • Hugo Keenan (Ireland) – 1/5
  • Tommy Freeman (England) – 4/9
  • Immanuel Feyi-Waboso (England) – 8/11
  • Mack Hansen (Ireland) – 2/1


  • Bundee Aki (Ireland) – 1/5
  • Ollie Lawrence (England) – 1/4
  • Sione Tuipulotu (Scotland) – 2/7
  • Robbie Henshaw (Ireland) – 8/11


  • George Ford (England) – 1/10
  • Marcus Smith (England) – 8/15
  • Finn Russell (Scotland) – 8/11