It’s a Lions record which is never likely to be broken, but it’s one Stuart Lane could have done without.
The former Cardiff and Wales flanker holds the dubious distinction of having had the shortest ever Lions playing career.
It lasted less than two minutes, as his knee “exploded” in the opening game of the 1980 tour of South Africa.
He has been left to ponder what might have been over the past four decades, especially as he was the only out-and-out openside in the squad.
As it turned out, he was not to play international rugby again, finishing up with five Welsh caps.
READ MORE:Gatland on his ‘very tough’ decision to axe Liam Williams
Born, bred and educated in Tredegar, Lane really began to make his mark in rugby with Sirhowy Valley Schools, finding No 7 was the jersey for him.
“I was quite fast and I also enjoyed contact and the support work you can do as a wing forward, while there is defensive work as well, so there was a good combination of everything really,” he explains.
After leaving school, he went to Cardiff College to train as a PE Teacher and from there linked up with the Blue & Blacks, while taking up a job teaching in Bargoed.
His Cardiff debut, aged 20 in September 1973, actually came on the wing, rather than at wing forward and saw him stepping into some pretty daunting boots.
“Gerald Davies dropped out and I was travelling reserve,” he recalls.
“So my first game for Cardiff was on the wing in place of Gerald!
“Those were some shoes to fill.”
Lane was soon making his mark in his more accustomed openside role and established himself as a regular fixture in the side over the next few years, sharing in the victory over Australia at the Arms Park in November 1975.
It was with Cardiff that he acquired the nickname Magnus, after Mastermind host Magnus Magnusson, for his know-how in terms of repairing anything that needed fixing.
Explaining how that came about, he said: “My old man was a diesel fitter in the steelworks, fixing the machines that transported the steel around the works.
“He would fix his own cars too and, when he was doing that, I was with him all the time.
“So the knowledge and interest I picked up was all through my old man.
“From a young age, I knew how to fix things.
“If somebody wanted something done around the club, they would say ‘Oh, Magnus will do it’.”
With the likes of Terry Cobner, Trefor Evans, Tommy David, Clive Burgess, Jeff Squire and Paul Ringer providing competition on the flanks, Lane had to bide his time on the international front.
He was limited to one appearance for Wales B against France in Rouen, when he was carried off “after somebody did my ribs”.
But then, in 1978, he got his big chance when he was selected for the summer tour of Australia, with Trefor Evans unavailable.
He won his first cap as a replacement for Squire at Brisbane’s Ballymore ground in the opening Test of a series scarred by violence.
“Jeff was kicked in the head by the Wallaby lock Garrick Fay, so I went on for 20 minutes and I was kicked in the head I don’t know how many times by Fay,” he says.
“He was a tough one. They were up for it, but they were a very good side as well.”
Lane then started the second Test in Sydney, in an an unusual looking back row alongside debutant Clive Davis and a certain JPR Williams, with Wales hit hard by injuries.
“We did well that day and really should have won the game, but there was some very dubious, very poor refereeing,” he said.
“He gave a drop goal when he shouldn’t have and we ended up coming home with our heads down because we lost both Tests.”
Cardiff flanker Stuart Lane on the attack against Swansea in 1978. Picture by Mirrorpix
Lane made his first Five Nations appearance in February 1979 as a replacement for Geoff Wheel in the victory over Ireland in Cardiff.
Then, the following year, he started the wins at home to Scotland and away to Ireland, earning selection for the Lions through his performances.
“My big break was Paul Ringer being sent off against England,” he recalls.
“I came in and played and took my chance perhaps.
“When you came on as a sub, I don’t think you got into the game enough.
“But when you run on the field from the start and everybody is singing, it’s smashing.
“We used to stay in the Angel Hotel in those days and you would walk from there into the ground.
“You are a superstar. It’s just amazing really, absolutely fabulous.
“Everybody in Wales would give their right arm to play for Wales in an international and I was lucky enough to do it.”
Lane still has vivid memories of how he found out he had been selected for the 1980 Lions tour of South Africa.
“I was sitting down in school in Bargoed having my dinner and they announced the squad on the radio,” he said.
Will the Lions win the second Test? Have your say in our comments section below
Calling all British and Irish Lions fans, we want your views.
You can become even more involved with WalesOnline’s Lions coverage by signing up to leave comments on stories, delivering your verdict, discussing the biggest breaking news and also chatting to our journalists.
Click here to get started.
It was a controversial trip, as it went ahead in the face of opposition from the British Government and groups against sporting contact with the Apartheid regime in South Africa.
So did Lane have any second thoughts about going?
“Obviously no one agrees with Apartheid and what was happening,” he said.
“But I tried to keep the politics side out of it. I wanted to go out and play against some of the best players in the world.
“I just felt, if I went out there, I could make my own opinion, I could decide whether I liked it or didn’t like it.”
He was one of six back rowers selected, along with countrymen Jeff Squire and Derek Quinnell, Scotland’s John Beattie and Irish duo John O’Driscoll and Colm Tucker.
“I was the only openside in the squad, so if I had played to my form, perhaps I would have played in the Tests,” he reflects.
“I made the Saturday side for the opening game, which was quite a big thing because if you make that side, the other players have got to get you out of it.
“I was very pleased to be picked in a very good team. That’s the start of the build-up to the first Test.
Former Wales and Lions flanker Stuart Lane has a love of cars and here he fine tunes his 1962 Austin Healey Sprite. Picture by Mark Lewis
“So I thought I had a bit of a chance.
“But it was all just blown away within a couple of minutes.”
It was against Eastern Province at Port Elizabeth’s Boet Erasmus Stadium that fate took a cruel turn for Lane.
Some 41 years on, the sequence of events remains clearly imprinted on his mind.
“I can remember having long studs on because it’s a very coarse, dense type of grass in South Africa,” he says.
“There were a couple of lineouts straight away and I went up on their outside-half quite quick to put pressure on him.
“I was getting quite close to him.
“The third one, he just let the ball go past him, the centre picked it up and cut back across behind him.
“So I changed direction to tackle the centre.
“As he came back inside me, I put my foot on the ground to turn and my knee just exploded.
“My weight went one way, with me trying to go the opposite direction to chase the centre.
“The knee just came apart sideways. There was so much force, it pulled the ligaments on the outside of the knee completely off the bone.
“That was it. There was no way I could carry on. I knew something drastic had gone wrong.
“I didn’t need to wait for a doctor or surgeon to tell me.
“The knee had ruptured completely.
“It wasn’t very pleasant.
“I could move my leg about a foot out of line, because the ligament had gone completely.
Stuart Lane is helped from the field in Port Elizabeth after rupturing his knee in the opening match of the the 1980 Lions tour of South Africa
“My Lions career was stopped straight away.
“I don’t know exactly how long it was, maybe a minute and a half, two minutes.
“It was very hard to come to terms with the reality.
“I’d just achieved the great dream of becoming a Lion and then it was all knocked from under me.
“Sport can be very cruel.
“I was allowed to stay out there for six weeks, but I should have gone home really.”
Lane eventually returned to action in December 1980, but found his game-time at the Arms Park limited with the arrival of Rhodri Lewis from Bridgend.
So, after 158 games for Cardiff, he moved to Newport the following year, playing a couple of matches for the Black & Ambers before joining Newbridge.
When he eventually hung up his boots, he continued working as a teacher, with spells in both Bargoed and Phillipstown, before retiring some 14 years ago.
The passion for fixing up and driving fast cars, which he acquired from his father, has remained a big hobby over the years.
He built both a Caterham 7 Supersport and a 1962 Austin Healey Sprite from scratch – taking the body shell and adding new parts – and still has the Sprite.
He’s also put together his own push-bike and has been on some epic journeys on it.
“There is a gang of us go down to the south of France to do the Tour de France climbs,” he said.
“We have been up Mont Ventoux and Alpe d’Huez and so on.
“I try and ride my bike and drive my car as much as I can.
“I am never going to be the fastest on the circuit or on a pushbike, I take my time coming down the hills. But I thoroughly enjoy doing it.
“It’s good fun.”
Now 68 and still living in Tredegar, he’s in good health and enjoying his retirement, although his rugby career did take its toll.
Both of his shoulders have been replaced, while the right knee he ruptured all those years ago in Port Elizabeth is “still a mess”, with a two inch long pin in the bone holding it all together.
So how does he now reflect on what happened to him in that summer of 1980?
“I am still very, very proud to have been picked and to have played,” he says.
“I have got my Lions cap, with my number on it, 555. I had that about a year ago. That was a nice moment.
“With the documentation that goes with it, it says if you cross the whitewash wearing a Lions jersey, you are a Lions player.
Stuart Lane at his home in Tredegar with his 1962 Austin Healey Sprite. Picture by Mark Lewis
“It’s just disappointing with what might have been if I’d stayed injury-free.
“They desperately needed an openside flanker to get in amongst the South African backs, to disrupt their style of play.
“My career would have been completely different, so it’s disappointing.
“But I made some good friends through rugby and saw lots of the world.
“I wouldn’t change a thing – apart from those few minutes of that day in Port Elizabeth.”
For the latest rugby updates sent straight to your inbox, you can sign up to our ROAR or Welsh rugby newsletters.