The youngest player on tour has the responsibility of looking after him all trip

Introducing British & Irish Lions mascot BIL

On every British & Irish Lions tour, the youngest player selected has a big responsibility: looking after the official mascot.

The mascot sits by the side of the pitch for every tour match and since 2013 that mascot has been BIL – standing for British and Irish Lion. According to the Lions, BIL replaced the previous Lions mascot Leo, who was in place for “almost two decades of duty”.

For the upcoming tour, Wales and Gloucester wing Louis Rees-Zammit will look after the plush lion. He takes the mantle from England’s Maro Itoje, who was the custodian of the mascot on the 2017 tour.

Posting on his Instagram after the announcement of the Lions squad 2021, the lock said: “I have had the pleasure and honour of looking after this bad boy for the last 4 years! I look forward to passing the responsibility over to someone else!!

I feel deeply honoured and privileged to be selected for the tour this summer! Thank you for all the kind words and messages!! Let’s get it.”

At 20 years and 93 days old, Rees-Zammit became the youngest player on day of selection in a touring party since Ireland’s David Hewitt in 1959.

According to the official Lions website, since the first modern tour of 1950, the youngest Lions to tour have been:

2017: Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester / Wales) 20
Maro Itoje (Saracens / England) 22
2013: Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors / Scotland) 20
2009: Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues / Wales) 20 (Replacement)
2005: Matt Stevens (Bath / England) 22
2001: Jonny Wilkinson (Newcastle Falcons /England) 22
1997: Eric Miller (Leicester / Ireland) 21
1993: Scott Gibbs (Swansea / Wales) 22
1989: Craig Chalmers (Melrose / Scotland) 20
1983: Rob Ackerman (L.Welsh / Wales) 22
1980: Peter Morgan (Llanelli / Wales) 21
1977: Elgan Rees (Neath) 22
1974: Clive Rees (L.Welsh / Wales) 22
1971: John Bevan (Cardiff College of Education / Wales) 20
1968: Keith Jarrett (Newport / Wales) 20
1966: Terry Price (Llanelli / Wales) 20 (Replacement)
1962: Ronnie Cowan (Selkirk / Scotland) 20
1959: Dave Hewitt (Queen’s University, Belfast / Ireland) 19
1955: Tony O’Reilly (Old Belvedere / Ireland) 19
1950: Lewis Jones (Llanelli / Wales) 19 (Replacement)

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