Ben Te'o was rightly livid after some sneaky jersey swapping on the Lions Tour 5 years ago

Ben Te'o was rightly livid after some sneaky jersey swapping on the Lions Tour

This wasn't on at all and Te'o responded the right way.

The common practice after most Test rugby matches is for each player to get two jerseys. One is for them to swap, if they choose, and the others is to hang onto or present to a proud family member, friend, fan or charity.


Tadhg Furlong, for example, swapped one of his jerseys after the famous win over New Zealand, in Chicago, and presented the other one to his old school, in Wexford.

While not every game the British & Irish Lions played in, during their tour to New Zealand, was a Test, they kept to the dual jersey practice. For the most part, so did the opposition.

Lions head coach Warren Gatland did shed some light on some jersey swapping shenanigans that took place after his side had defeated the New Zealand Maori, in Rotorua, last summer. In his book, 'In The Line of Fire', Gatland noted:

'Some of our guys, not everyone, were disappointed that the Maori players had official jerseys and another which was just a replica that you can buy in the shops. They hadn't been embroidered or numbered.

'Most of their players came in and swapped their official jerseys, but four or five used replicas, which were folded up and dampened to make it seem like it had been used in the match.'


We get that not every team can be the money-generating, sponsorship-courting juggernaut that is the Lions. The Lions were well looked after by their kit-makers and backers but you'd hope the NZ Maori could have splashed out that bit extra on a second jersey for their players to trade.

Going to such efforts to pretend a store-bought replica jersey had been worn in the preceding match feels all wrong, too.

Without naming [many] names, Gatland said one of the Lions players told his Maori counterpart to take a replica jersey back into the man who had traded it to him only minutes before. 'In fairness to that Maori player,' says Gatland, 'he saw our player at the after-match function and gave him the embroidered jersey he had played the match with.'

The one player Gatland reveals in his re-telling of the events is England, and former Leinster, centre Ben Te'o. The Worcester man had a fine outing against the Maori but was severely ticked off when he swapped his official Lions jersey for what turned out to be a replica. Gatland recalls:


'Ben tracked down their player and asked for either his one back or to be given the real one, which is fair enough too.'

Proper order from Te'o, certainly not a character to be diced with.