Could the Scannells become the 51st brothers to play for Ireland?

After Niall and Rory Scannell were named in Joe Schmidt’s 40-man squad for the first two rounds of the Six Nations, we asked our resident historian John Griffiths to look at previous siblings who ran out for Ireland.

Niall and Rory Scannell stand ready to become the latest in a long line of siblings to play for Ireland, the country that has had more sets of brothers capped than any other Tier One nation. Niall is a hooker while Rory will be pressing for consideration as a centre.

More than fifty sets of brothers have been capped in official Tests for Ireland, with pride of place belonging to the three Wallaces of recent vintage.

The Easterby brothers, Simon and Guy, prepare to face Scotland in 2001 PA Sport

Like the Scannells, they covered different positions in the team. Richard was a wing (first capped in 1991), Paul a prop (from 1995) and David played in the back-row (from 2000). Above all, however, the three were uniquely British/Irish Lions. Richard was a replacement called up to tour New Zealand in 1993, Paul went to South Africa in 1997 and David went out as a replacement to Australia in 2001.

The earliest example of three capped Irish brothers was believed to be the Rosses – Dan (capped 1884), John (Capped 1885) and Joe (capped 1886) – though recent genealogical evidence casts doubt on whether the John capped in 1885 (and who hailed from Dublin) was a relative of the other two boys (who were from Hollywood in County Down).

The ten confirmed Irish threesomes with dates of first caps are:

  • The Dorans (EF in 1890, GP in 1899 and BRW in 1900)

  • The Forrests (AJ in 1880, EG in 1889 and H in 1893)

  • The Harveys (TA in 1900, GAD in 1903 and FMW in 1907)

  • The Hewitts (TR in 1924, FS in 1926 and VA in 1935)

  • The Johnstons (W in 1884, RW in 1890 and R in 1893)

  • The McVickers (S in 1922, J in 1924 and H in 1927)

  • The Moores (DF in 1883, FW in 1884 and CM in 1887)

  • The Pedlows (J in 1882, TB in 1889 and R in 1891)

  • The Smyths (T in 1908, WS in 1910 and PJ in 1911)

  • The Wallaces (RM in 1991,PS in 1995 and DP in 2000).

Among the more than forty pairs of brothers who have played Test rugby for Ireland are Ray McLoughlin, who was a long-serving Ireland and Lions prop between 1962 and 1975, and his younger brother Phelim whose take on the family record typifies the pride felt by Ireland’s band of capped brothers.

Rob and Dave Kearney both played for Leinster and then Ireland. (Photo by Sportsfile/Corbis via Getty Images)

Phelim proudly – and accurately – enlightened friends and acquaintances with the fact that between them he and his brother won 41 caps …. but overlooked mentioning that Ray accounted for 40 of them.

Pairs of brothers capped by Ireland:

  • The Allens (GG in 1896 and CE in 1900)

  • The Beamishes (GR in 1925 and CEStJ in 1935)

  • The Bests (SJ in 2003 and RD in 2005)

  • The Browns (H in 1877 and T in 1877)

  • The Bulgers (LQ in 1896 and MJ in 1899)

  • The Byrnes (SJ in 1953 and NF in 1962)

  • The Collopys (WP in 1914 and R in 1923)

  • The Crowes (MP in 1929 and PM in 1935)

  • The Deerings (MJ in 1929 and SJ in 1935)

  • The Dicks (CJ in 1961 and JS in 1962)

  • The Doyles (MG in 1965 and TJ in 1968)

  • The Easterbys (SH in 2000 and WG in 2000)

  • The Feigherys (CFP in 1972 and TAO in 1977)

  • The Ferrises (JH in 1900 and HH in 1901)

  • The Galbraiths (E in 1875 and R in 1875)

  • The Gardiners (W in 1892 and F in 1900)

  • The Gwynns (LH in 1894 and AP in 1895)

  • The Herons (J in 1877 and WT in 1880)

  • The Hunters (WR in 1962 and LM in 1968)

  • The Kavanaghs (PJ in 1952 and JR in 1953)

  • The Kearneys (R in 2007 and DR in 2013)

  • The Kennedys (F in 1880 and JM in 1882)

  • The Lyttles (JN in 1889 and JH in 1894)

  • The Magees (AM in 1895 and JT in 1895)*

  • The McIlwaines (EH in 1895 and JE in 1897)

  • The McKibbins (HR in 1938 and D in 1950)

  • The McKibbins (CH in 1976 and AR in 1977)

  • The McLoughlins (RJ in 1962 and FM in 1976)

  • The Montgomerys (RB in 1887 and A in 1895)

  • The Moores (AH in 1876 and WD in 1878)

  • The O’Connors (J in 1895 and J in 1909)

  • The O’Driscolls (BJ in 1971 and JB in 1978)

  • The O’Flanagans (KP in 1947 and M in 1948)

  • The Pikes (TO in 1927 and VJ in 1931)

  • The Rosses (DJ in 1884 and JF in 1886)

  • The Ryans (M in 1897 and J in 1897)

  • The Scotts (D in 1961 and RD in 1967)

  • The Springs (D in 1978 and RM in 1979)

  • The Stephensons (GV in 1920 and HWV in 1922)

  • The Stevensons (R in 1887 and J in 1888)

  • The Stokers (FO in 1886 and FW in 1888)

  • The Stokes (OS in 1882 and RD in 1891)

  • The Walkingtons (RB in 1875 and DB in 1887)

  • The Wallaces (Jos in 1902 and Jas in 1904)

  • The Wallises (WA in 1881 and AK in 1892)

* A third Magee brother – JM – was capped twice in Tests for the Lions against South Africa in 1896, but never turned out for Ireland.

We should be delighted to hear from anyone who is able to add to this list.

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Could the Scannells become the 51st brothers to play for Ireland? – RUGBY

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