Springbok Kriel reveals special Lions family connection

The 2021 Tour will be extra special for Springbok star Jesse Kriel thanks to an “awesome” gesture from The British & Irish Lions. The utility back took to Twitter to reveal his great grandfather John Hodgson played in the famous red jersey after his cap, Lion No.265, was sent to his family by the Lions. […]

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South Africa's Jesse Kriel  3/11/2018

The 2021 Tour will be extra special for Springbok star Jesse Kriel thanks to an “awesome” gesture from The British & Irish Lions.

The utility back took to Twitter to reveal his great grandfather John Hodgson played in the famous red jersey after his cap, Lion No.265, was sent to his family by the Lions.

Hodgson was a member of the 1930 Tour of Australia and New Zealand, with the loose forward playing two Test matches against the All Blacks 90 years ago.

The Gosforth-born flanker, 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 in Auckland.

In total, Hodgson made 15 appearances for the Lions on his only Tour, scoring nine points, while he also represented England between 1932 and 1936 – earning seven caps.

He was part of the England team who played against the 1932 Springboks in London on 2 January 1932 and Kriel was delighted to find out his family had received his great grandfather’s cap.

“Awesome gesture from @lionsofficial sent to family of mine. My great grandfather John Hodgson’s Lions cap,” tweeted Kriel, who was part of the 2019 Rugby World Cup-winning squad.

The ceremonial cap was sent by the Lions as part of a campaign to recognise all former Lions with the special momento.

The campaign, launched in 2018, was formed from the Lions’ desire to bring all players together, to create something unique to unite them and which they could treasure and pass on throughout the generations.

All players have been given a Lions number and a beautifully embroidered cap, which is incredibly unique – only one has been, and will ever be, produced with each number on.

Speaking to www.springboks.rugby, Kriel added: “I think it’s pretty special, really, knowing that he played for the Lions.”

The Bok midfielder went on to explain that relatives in England had initially planned 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 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’s tour South Africa on the horizon.”

Kriel was named in South Africa’s squad for the 2019 Rugby World Cup but he later had to withdraw through injury during the pool stage, with Damian Willemse taking his place.

His twin-brother, Dan, previously played with him for the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria before Jesse decided to make Japan his rugby home, joining the Canon Eagles in 2019.

Dan has since moved to Cape Town where he played for DHL Western Province, and then to the Xerox 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 losing to England U20 in the final at Eden Park.

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