Even before he held the William Webb Ellis Cup aloft in Sydney on 22 November 2003, England and former Tigers’ captain, Martin Johnson, held a unique position in world rugby being the only man ever to captain the British Lions on two separate tours, to South Africa in 1997 and Australia 2001.
The World Cup triumph over Australia in Sydney meant that he became the first Englishman, in fact the first player from a Northern Hemisphere side, to captain his team to a World Cup triumph. Earlier in the year Martin Johnson had also led the England team to their Grand Slam victory in the 2002/3 Six Nations Championship, their first Grand Slam since 1995, and their first in the expanded competition.
Martin Johnson’s international career began when he played for the England 18-Group in 1987. He joined Tigers’ senior squad in 1989 and in the summer of that year, played for King Country in New Zealand and was selected for the NZ U21 to tour Australia the following year.
In 1990, he made his Midlands debut, and in ’92 was selected for England B and the Barbarians. Martin Johnson made his England debut as an “eleventh hour” replacement for Wade Dooley in ‘93, and went on later that year to play numerous England A internationals and toured NZ with the British Lions, again replacing Dooley.
Martin has been involved in all 10 Five/Six Nations tournaments since his debut (1994-2003) and 3 Lions Tours (NZ ‘93, SA ‘97 and AUS ‘01). Martin has also played in two previous World Cups in 1995 and in ’99 when he took over the captaincy.
He was named the ‘98/‘99 Allied Dunbar Premiership Player of the Season and after being appointed Tigers’ club captain in ‘97 led the Leicester team to a Pilkington Cup victory, four successive Premiership titles 1999-2002 as well as the inaugural Zurich Championship in 2001 and back to back European Heineken Cup triumphs in 2001 and 2002.
Martin Johnson, regarded as stalwart at lock, was also Leicester’s longest ever serving captain, and in the home game against Bristol in February 2003, became the 33rd player to have made 300 appearances for the club. Already the holder of an MBE, Martin was awarded a CBE in the 2004 New Year’s Honours.
Between 2008 and 2011, Martin Johnson was Manager of the England team.
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