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Former England and British and Irish Lions wing Mike Slemen dies, aged 69

The Liverpool product was England’s most-capped wing with 31 appearances when he played his final Test in 1984.

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Former England rugby wing Mike Slemen (right) has died at the age of 69 (PA)

Former England rugby wing Mike Slemen (right) has died at the age of 69 (PA)

Former England rugby wing Mike Slemen (right) has died at the age of 69 (PA)

Former England and British and Irish Lions wing Mike Slemen has died at the age of 69.

Liverpool-born Slemen was part of England’s 1980 Grand Slam-winning side and toured South Africa with the Lions later that year, both under the captaincy of Bill Beaumont.

World Rugby chairman Beaumont led the tributes to Slemen, telling englandrugby.com: “He (Slemen) was a great rugby player and a great all-round sportsman.

“He gave so much to the game in his playing days, as a club and England coach and as director of sport at Merchant Taylors’ School, Crosby.

“He will be very much missed as someone whose generous spirit and outstanding athleticism graced our sport.

“Our thoughts are with his wife, Eileen, and his family.”

Slemen, who was educated at St Edward’s College, Liverpool, made his England debut against Ireland at Twickenham in March 1976.

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World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont described Mike Slemen as “a great rugby player and a great all-round sportsman” (Brian Lawless/PA)

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont described Mike Slemen as “a great rugby player and a great all-round sportsman” (Brian Lawless/PA)

PA

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont described Mike Slemen as “a great rugby player and a great all-round sportsman” (Brian Lawless/PA)

He was part of the Northern Division team who beat the All Blacks 21-9 at Otley in 1979, and had a crucial role in the game’s decisive try.

Slemen’s running ability and change of pace were influential as England ended a 23-year wait for Grand Slam glory in 1980.

Ten of England’s Grand Slam squad toured South Africa with the Lions that summer, and Slemen started the 26-22 first Test defeat in Cape Town.

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Mike Slemen (front row, second from right) was part of the England squad that won the Grand Slam in 1980 (PA)

Mike Slemen (front row, second from right) was part of the England squad that won the Grand Slam in 1980 (PA)

PA

Mike Slemen (front row, second from right) was part of the England squad that won the Grand Slam in 1980 (PA)

Slemen’s final Test was against Scotland at Murrayfield in March 1984, by which time he was England’s most-capped wing with 31 appearances.

He retired in 1986 and went on to coach former club Liverpool, then known as Liverpool St Helens.

Slemen later joined the England set up, coaching the backs as part of Geoff Cooke’s management team, and also worked at Orrell.

PA