British and Irish Lions | The quiet man Dixon who conquered the All Blacks

Among all the famous names of the 1971 British and Irish Lions, England rower Peter Dixon stands out as something of an anomaly.

Where teammates like Willie John McBride, Ian ‘Mighty Mouse’ McLauchlan or Gordon ‘Broon frae Troon’ Brown need no introduction, Dixon is relatively unrecognized.

And yet it was the blind former Harlequins flanker who scored the crucial try that saw the Lions draw the fourth Test and walk away with their only series win in New Zealand to date.

Dixon was a relatively unlikely selection for the Tour, in fact when called up he hadn’t even made his England debut but he certainly seized the opportunity, appearing in three of the four Tests in the win 2-1 in series.

Born in Keighley in West Yorkshire, Dixon made a name for himself playing for Oxford University, appearing in four consecutive college games from 1967 to 1970.

He then moved on to Harlequins and Lions manager Carwyn James had clearly spotted something in the abrasive back rower, calling him up for the 1971 Lions even though England had yet to give him a first cap.

Dixon actually made his England debut before the Tour, appearing against an RFU president’s XV shortly before flying off.

Even on tour he hasn’t had the smoothest ride, appearing in the infamous 14-11 loss to Queensland in the opener in Brisbane.

The Aussies didn’t think much of the Lions at the start of the Tour, but everyone’s perspective had changed by the time the Tests against the All Blacks rolled around, with Dixon having done enough to earn a starting role in the 9-3 victory in the first test.

He suffered brutal treatment in the second test, requiring medical attention almost from the kick-off before returning to the fray.

“It wasn’t too bad,” he recalled in an Independent article. “They just stuck half a dozen stitches in it and pushed me away.”

Although he lost his spot to Derek Quinnell in the third Test, Dixon was called up for the fourth Test, with the Lions 2-1 in the series.

And shortly before half-time, his greatest moment came, leaping on a loose ball from a lineout on the All Black line and crashing for the crucial score.

This allowed the Lions to even the scores at 8-8, and in the end they finished 14-14 as the Lions wrote their names in the history books.

It was to be Dixon’s only Tour with the Lions, but he unmistakably left his mark on the side, while playing 22 times in all for England, as well as beating the All Blacks again in 1979 as part of from the North of England. team.

Charles P. Patton