Disenfranchised: what Warren Gatland’s selections mean for Scottish Rugby

For those of us north of the border, Scotland’s involvement – or lack thereof – with the hotly-contested British and Irish Lions tour of Australia is a touchy subject. As the team sheet was read out this morning for the third and final test match in Sydney, it became clear our hopes of a test Lion now rest solely on the sizeable shoulders of Richie Gray. This is an altogether familiar situation. For the past decade, our national team has been at best disappointing, and at worst atrocious. Our pro teams have only twice graced the latter stages of the Heineken Cup, and our structure from grass-roots up is light years behind those of the top-tier nations.

We’ve been inconsistent at the highest level, failed to capitalise on promising performances, and are perpetually labelled with the dreaded “gallant losers” tag. That we contributed at first only three tourists to the party shows just how poorly our game is thought of by those from the other home nations and beyond. Is our rugby really that bad? Or do we have cause to feel aggrieved?

Examining those three tourists, one – Sean Maitland – is a New Zealander, and would certainly never have been tempted by a move to Glasgow had he been in Graham Henry’s All Blacks plans. Richie Gray has been picked on reputation rather than current form, after a disappointing Six Nations curtailed by injury. Stuart Hogg, one of Scotland’s brightest young talents, has merited selection, but has been done a terrible disservice by being asked to play in a position he has not fulfilled since schoolboy level. This was exacerbated against the ACT Brumbies, where Hogg’s backline was made up almost exclusively of fresh call-ups whom he was barely able to train with, and had certainly never played alongside. The startling lack of cohesion between the Scot and those outside him went some way to deciding the outcome of that particular clash.

The one Scottish call-up, prop Ryan Grant, should frankly have made the original touring party after an excellent start to his international career, and two consistently impressive seasons with Glasgow Warriors. Ironically, this time last year, he was turning in his best international showing to date in a victory over Australia last summer, where the Scottish front row gave their opponents a torrid time. He is frequently among the top tacklers in the national team and chips in with an impressive number of assists for the Warriors. He even managed to cross the try line twice in a thumping victory over the Ospreys last season – a game in which he got the better of his much-lauded Lions colleague Adam Jones in the scrum. Very few looseheads in world rugby can boast that particular feat on their CV. Indeed, Grant has yet to be embarrassed by any of the big-name tightheads he has come up against for club and country; a list that includes, among others, Jones, Ben Franks, Jannie Du Plessis and Mike Ross.

That he was initially ignored again at the expense of Alex Corbisiero, who has barely played a game all season, was extremely disappointing – although Corbisiero has since more than justified his selction with his performances Down Under. That he was left as an unused substitute last week while Mako Vunipola floundered in the scrum – an area pinpointed as one of Grant’s key strengths – and then tired in the loose was questionable to most. In an era where the full repertoire of front-row replacements are invariably utilised, the decision to leave Grant sitting on his bahookie (backside in Scottish, for the uninitiated) was indicative of the lack of faith Warren Gatland and Graham Rowntree are willing to place in the Scottish contingent. Those south of the border and beyond who, rightly or wrongly, may be largely ignorant of the Fifer’s abilities can be excused. An international coaching team certainly cannot.

The likes of Euan Murray, Jim Hamilton and Greig Laidlaw may also be justly disappointed at their exclusion from the touring party. Gatland’s selection of the retired Matt Stevens ahead of Murray was particularly surprising, and sends a terrible message to those who missed out. With the lineout misfiring terribly in Melbourne, the scrum at times struggling, and the Lions desperately seeking some go-forward with ball in hand, Hamilton’s impressive Six Nations performances obviously went unnoticed.

The Kiwi also chose to call up Englishman Christian Wade, who had barely made his test debut, ahead of the likes of Tim Visser who has been prolific since signing for Edinburgh, and is beginning to show his finishing prowess on the international stage. Youngster Matt Scott, the standout performer in his country’s tour of South Africa, was overlooked at the expense of the inexperienced Billy Twelvetrees, and the stodgy Brad Barritt. These three, fresh off the plane for the Brumbies defeat alongside the retired Shane Williams were unsurprisingly unable to form any sort of structured attacking combination with Hogg.

The Lions, of course, despite the four-union makeup, are an outfit selected entirely on merit. Rightly so, and Scottish rugby has not – as we are fond of saying north of the border – set the proverbial heather alight of late. However, Gatland’s startling ignorance of our potential offerings, made all the more glaring given how the first two test-matches have played out, only serves to remind us of the low esteem our game is held in by the rest of the rugby community.

As we approach the end of a tour that, for Scottish rugby, has been a tiresome, drawn-out kick in the teeth, it is left to Scott Johnson’s men to respond in kind the only way they can: by showing on the pitch next season just what Gatland, his unfounded call-ups, selections and false perceptions missed out on.

By Jamie Lyall

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

92 thoughts on “Disenfranchised: what Warren Gatland’s selections mean for Scottish Rugby

  1. I am English but would like to see a minimum number of players selected from each country. We have a Majority Welsh team currently picked by the current Welsh Coach. I know this is Rugby and we are not supposed to moan but just does not seem right to me.

    1. I don’t think a minimum is a good idea – what if one country is vastly superior to other countries?

      However, I do think that in future the coach should not be national coach of any of the countries, to at least stop the ridiculous complaining that the coach is just picking “his boys” happening in the future.

    2. Disagree with you there, Rob. As I said in the article, the Lions selections should be based wholly on merit. I do, however, question whether that has been the case this time around.

    3. Disagree on the quota front and echo the sentiment it should be on merit and performance.

      I don’t agree with the comment on the Scot’s, Grant hasn’t played at all well and would question selection ahead of Vunipola, Visser should of gone but in terms of otehr Scottish players I think there is a long queue of Irish, Welsh & English players ahead of them.

      Scotland are a shadow of the team the used to be and as I have said before they have gone from winning the last 5 Nations in 99 to finding it acceptable to beating Italy, something is fundamentally wrong in Scottish Rugby and this is impacting on there elite performance and in turn dselection for The Lions.

    4. Noone from the celtic nations moaned like this when Woodward picked 11 English, Wales has the majority of the best players at the moment, it happens.

      1. No-one moaned?! I assume you’re either english, or living in england!

        Certainly a lot of moaning/complaining about the 2005 squad in Scotland!

  2. I think the main reason for calling up English players as replacements lay largely in the fact that England had been in Argentina which is a bit closer, in the same way that Tom Court was already in Australia. Corbs though was a big deal before injury and made it known in Argentina.

    I do agree a little bit with Rob here. Never mind professionalism, never mind winning and being the best, there is a spirit to the Lions. There’s no point in having 4 nations coming together if you leave one out. I do think that even if one side is woefully under talented, they should have one representative because that’s what makes it the British and Irish Lions, representation from all those countries

    1. I’m not sure I buy that rationale either. The flight times between where the Scots were in SA and where the English were in Arg are broadly similar. Surely it would have been wiser, given that Hogg was starting at 10, to call-up a back/backs whom he has actually played alongside before?

  3. 2017 RETURN OF THE GEECH! The most unbiased rugby coach and a man with blood of the lions running through his veins

    Head coach Geech

    Backs coach BOD if he hasnt lost faith in the Lions

    Defence coach Shawn Edwards

    Forwards coach Rowntree

  4. I really don’t think having quotas helps anyone. Would any Scottish player want to start a Lions test just to fill a quote? No, he’d want to be there on merit.

    The issue is having a national coach be the lions coach; that’s where the issue lies, and if hopefully won’t happen again.

  5. I am against any sort of quota, but I don’t think the article is asking for that at all.

    I agree on Murray, Grant, Hamilton, and I would say Laidlaw would be a more obvious choice given the 2 flyhalf policy, and Scott as we only have one inside centre.

    I felt really bad for Hogg as he has been abused on this tour, I hoped he could come alive on the tour and claim a spot in the team, offering the kind of x-factor that is lacking however he has been moved around much like james hook has been for Wales and not been respected.

    The only thing Scotland can do is to beat Wales next year in Cardiff and show Gats what a misstake he made.

  6. To answer some of the points in this article:

    1. Hogg has played twice at fullback on tour and did not overly impress either time. Suspect defensively and not much effect running with the ball

    2. Grant has not impressed when he has had the chance to play. He clearly cannot be blowing the coaches away in training either. There was an argument to bring him on during the first 20 mins last week, but when Vunipola turned it around, Gatland was right to leave him on. Given he was also one of the Lions best defenders, not subbing him seems right to me

    3. Euan Murray’s form has been up and down. The decision to take Stevens was very surprising but I would guess it was made because he plays both sides of the scrum and is quite busy around the field

    4. Jim Hamilton had a good season but then so did Launchbury and he wasn’t chosen either. Hamilton can also be a bit of liability. Personally would have chosen him over Gray, but that wouldn’t add to the Scots contingent

    5. 12Trees and Wade were picked probably because they were extremely effective in a side that had just beaten Argentina at home. Wade adds something different – Visser is in the same mold as Cuthbert and North. 12Trees can also cover fly-half if necessary

    I do think Laidlaw should have been selected and I’d have taken Hines as well if he hadn’t ruled himself out.

    Disenfranchised is somewhat of a strong term – over-the-top and emotive. The Scots players aren’t being made to go on a different coach from everyone else or eat at a different table

    Given there hasn’t been more than 1 Scot starting a Lions test since 1997, any questions should revolve around Scottish rugby in general rather than Gatland’s view of it.

  7. You make some valid points, Hogg has been unlucky, he just happens to play in the position of the Lions most consistent player and specialist kicker, in another tour he would have played. I think Gray has been particularly unlucky and I would have preferred Evans or Gray to start the third test with the other as replacement. Ryan Grants selection for the second test would probably have meant a second test win and I think that, the selection of Matt Stevens ahead of Paul James (ridiculous) & Euan Murray and taking a party of 37 when 40 was needed will be the obvious errors of this tour.

  8. A non-Scottish perspective (for what it’s worth) on the Scottish inclusions and exclusions:

    Scotland have some really promising talent coming through and have a greater number of ‘Lions quality’ players than recent memory. Scotland have the fastest back 3 in northern hemisphere rugby so now have some cutting edge that has been missing for a decade. However the strength in depth of the B&I pool in general means every country has many ‘Lions quality’ players left at home. E.g. is Murray a better tighthead than Stevens? Quite possibly, but out of a pool of Ross, Wilson, Murray & Stevens is it clear that Murray should have got the nod and has been shafted for being Scottish? Don’t think so.

    Had Grant made the original touring party ahead of Vunipola I wouldn’t have thought it was a bad decision, however based on the performances on this tour I haven’t seen any evidence they got it wrong. Corbs missed out on the original selection because of injury, but demonstrated he was fully fit against the Baa Baas, his performances on tour have demonstrated that it was the right decision to go to him before Grant. I didn’t understand why it made sense for Vunipola to be staggering around exhausted for the last 10 mins and completely agree Grant should have come on. I don’t understand the outrage when he’s not performed better than any of the people selected ahead of him though, he’s not proved Gatland wrong.

    On Hogg, everyone is forgetting he started at full back against the Baa Baas, he started at full back against the Reds. He had the opportunity to push for the shirt, but his performances were well below those he produced in the 6N. Going into the tour I thought he was going to get the 23 shirt, but he didn’t produce the goods. He then gets a look as 10 cover (this was discussed before the tour with Gregor Townsend who I believe confirmed Hogg could do a job there). He had an excellent first game, prompting many to suggest he should be ahead of Farrell for the 22 shirt. He gets another outing and is sadly presented with a platform Dan Carter would have struggled with. I do wish however that Gatland had made a switch earlier in that game (Hogg to wing, Farrell on). This was a poor call, but clearly he was reluctant to risk his test players from the bench. It’s sad that this is the going to be the lasting memory of Hogg’s contribution to the tour. Everyone gets 20:20 hindsight and complains he’s been mishandled.

    Then we look at some of the other late call ups of players who may not be any better than their Scottish peers. What you haven’t factored in is the timing of the call up. England had just wiped the floor with Argentina and Samoa had just smashed Scotland. Visser had been defensively suspect and Matt Scott played 80 mins without making a single tackle (and missing 1). He left his diminutive fly half to try and stop Tuilagi, who duly crushed him on route to score the decisive try. 36 and Wade had just played exceptional games. At the point the decisions were made can you really blame Gatland for going with people who had played well over those that hadn’t? Scott playing well the next 2 weeks becomes irrelevant. The decisions were already taken.

    I really hope Richie Gray gets on this week, genuinely think a Scotsman may yet have an influential part to play in the outcome of this series. Bringing him in this week, but having his position covered by a flanker last week, is another questionable decision. Both he and Evans had to go the full 80 on Tues, so I wonder if that was a factor.

    The silver lining to the cloud has to be that the majority of the Scottish backline has been in the selection mix for the Lions, that’s not been the case for a long time and certainly wasn’t the case for England’s 6N lot.

  9. As a Scot, the only thing that I have issues with really is Grant not coming on in the 2nd test, or getting a call up in the first place. Vuni struggled in the scrum at the start, and although he stopped giving away penalties in the scrum he looked out on his feet at the end. But if there was another prop on the bench I would’ve wanted him on too – so it is not a Scottish thing really.

    All other decisions and selections could be argued either way, even if I would have chosen differently.

    People claiming Hogg was treated badly – I don’t understand. It was made clear from the start he was 10 cover and it seemed like a deciding factor for him making the tour after GT convinced the coaches he could play there. If anything it was an experiment that the Scotland team can take advantage of.

    In my opinion the Scotland team is young and exciting and although the Lions selectors may not have seen it yet I’m confident in 4 years we’ll have our largest Scottish contingent in recent memory.

  10. Jamie, I hope you’ll edit the headline to also include the name of that notorious Scottish rugby hater McGeechan. Look at his 2009 selections, the scottish hating, welsh/irish/english loving, b***ard.

    1st test: 4E, 6W, 0S, 5I.
    2nd test: 2E, 6W, 0S, 7I.
    3rd test: 5E, 5W, 0S, 4I.

    1. Missing a player in the 3rd test.

      I think the difference between 2009 is now we have some genuinely talented players that are pushing for spots

      1. Ad, I think you have some genuinely good players but I can’t think of a single Scottish back who is at least 2nd best in his position in the B&I? I’m not trying to abuse Scotland, I genuinely can’t. So no selection quibbles there for me.

        Forwards – Hines ruled himself out. Gray makes the bench, seems ok to me (he is not better than Parling or AWJ and certainly not on current form).

        Grant – a competitive option but nobody could say picking Corbs or Vuni ahead of him is 100% wrong.

        The article also makes wild assertions to back things up e.g. Hogg was somehow disadvantaged by playing with unfamiliar players outside him – what, like Sexton with Phillips inside and JD/JR outside? Hogg at 10 got what all of the halfbacks have had – playing with unfamiliar players from other countries either side of them.

        Perhaps I’m just reading too much into this article because it’s come hot on the heels of all the “Gatland picks his mates” stuff so I am wrongly tarring this with the same brush? I could see an argument for that.

        1. I think the Hogg one, the argument refers to the Brumbies game. That’s fair – not only were the guys he played with unfamiliar, but they arrive around 24 hours before the match. But, anyone who played 10 would have had that problem, and it was four days before the first test so Gatland didn’t want to start Farrell or Sexton, so fair enough on selection really.

          And brighty, you can stop getting so defensive now, it’ll be ok!

        2. Brighty funnily enough the one that springs to mind is Scott. Potentially I thought that he was the best (home nation) 12 in the 6N, and consistent in all games, at worst he was second behind Roberts.

          I really wanted to see what he could do with some better quality around him.

          1. Staggy, I think potentially good Scottish players suffer from Parisse syndrome – there is always the question “do they look good because others around them are poor, or are they really good and would blossom with better players?”. Unfortunately the compressed and intense Lions tour isn’t the place to work that out which I think is another reason Scottish representation suffers – it’s hard to look good enough in a poor/average side so Scottish players have an even higher hurdle to get noticed for the Lions (much like Wales in the 90s).

          2. Brighty do you not think that is all the more reason why Hogg should be involved? He was one of the players of the 6N for me, which was made more impressive by the fact that he was playing for Scotand. I think had he been English, Welsh or Irish he would have been given more of a shot. Certainly he wouldn’t have been shove out of position like Hogg has been. I think it’s a real shame we haven’t seen him in the test series, at least from the bench.

          3. Jamie, for me it turned it the other way. Hogg looked great for Scotland at FB, he didn’t look all that for the Lions. He didn’t disgrace himself but 1/2p and a fit Rob Kearney still looked better options. He would not replace Bowe/Cuthbert/Zebo/North on the wings for me. He’s good but I can’t see him in the match day test squad with what is ahead of him.

            As for if he’d played for one of the other teams – I don’t think he would as he’s not as good a FB as those teams existing choices. So it’s a moot point whether being Welsh for example would have helped him – he’d have been worse off as he’d have zero caps.

          4. Normal service resumed. I disagree Brighty. Scott was making more inroads into opposing midfields than other players from different countries against the same opposition and his skillset and tackling looked good. I judged him like for like as far as you can and I would have had him down as the form 12 of the 6N. It wasn’t because he looked good next to his fellow Scots.

  11. I largely agree with you (see my previous post, which you seemed to have skipped)

    My point was only that some Scots may feel more aggrieved now than in 2009 (hence why Gats is getting more stick than Geets) is because there was a chance of them making the team.(even though you don’t think so)

    I think you are also missing the point about Hogg playing with unfamiliar players. Yes technically Sexton was too but he had been training with these guys since the start of the tour. In Hoggs 2nd game at 10, 4 of his fellow backline had been flown in literally the day(s) before the match and a 5th was starting his first game back from injury – leaving 1 player that he had the opportunity to train with properly.

  12. Hogg was hard done by in the Brumbies game with the backline just about shaking hands beforehand and the pack being definite dirtrackers .But he was more hard done by because playing as third choice outside half he was never going to get a chance to push at full back or any other back three position .Ok he was unlikely to shift Halfpenny ,North etc but as a player with something else to offer a bench position could have been his given the chance .

    Pick the Lions by quota ? Why not a lottery and we could call them the Politically Correct uncompetitive Lions or some such the schools would no doubt love it .

  13. Many thanks for all the comments/feedback, both positive and negative, on what is my first piece for the blog. Rather than replying to each individually, I’ll post my responses here:

    With regards to the style of the article and title itself, it was intended to be emotive and provoke debate, and on that basis, it seems to have done its job.

    I am certainly not in favour of a “quota-based” Lions squad. The jerseys should be handed out based wholly on merit, and I am not sure that has been the case this year.

    With regards to Stuart Hogg, I realise he has been given a chance at 15. I don’t think anyone, myself included, expected him to usurp Halfpenny, or would have given him a start at 15 in the test matches. My issue lies in the fact he was played at 10 with a set of outside backs he had never played alongside and barely trained with, and whom arguably did not merit a call-up.
    The argument from a poster above that all the half-backs have been in this position is incorrect. For starters, they’ve had weeks to train with each other.

    On the loosehead battle, we must remember Vunipola’s infringements at the scrum cost the Lions six points, and lots of vital first-phase possession. Had we had a more reliable scrummaging option, we may well have had the series in the bag by now. He was also visibly fatigued as the game wore on, and I once again question the wisdom of not bringing on a fresh pair of legs. That the scrum was shored up in the second half owed more to the introduction of Hibbard and Cole than anything drastically different Vunipola was doing.

    I personally thought Richie Gray was a lucky boy to be on the plane after an average season. Hence my comment in the article about his being picked on reputation. Hamilton would have been much more suited to Gatland’s physical “powerplay” game plan, provided more grunt in the scrum, and an option in a terribly misfiring lineout.

    Matt Stevens’ selection is, to my mind, extremely poor. Particularly when there are quality tightheads like Euan Murray and others mentioned above pushing for a place. Again, even more so given the tight game plan Gatland has implemented. In response to the poster above who asks whether Murray is a better option than Wilson, Ross or Stevens for a place on tour – my answer would be a firm yes.

    Hope this answers most if not all of the responses. Thanks again for the feedback.

    1. Couple of points in response

      1. Murray’s form was not great in the 6 nations and if he is better than those you name, he didn’t look it. I’d give you Stevens from that list but would argue on Wilson and Ross. As for stevens I’d guess he was picked for his ability to play both sides

      2. I believe you are incorrect about the scrum being turned around by Cole and Hibbard. Vunipola had already turned his problems around by that point and won a couple of penalties himself

    2. If the tighthead dives at your shins the scrum won’t stay up, Aussies got away with it. It’s certainly harsh to blame Vuni for giving away 6 points (when the likes of Wallace, Moore, Flatman and Vickery don’t think he’s at fault) but give him no credit for blasting Alexander backwards and forcing him to do a 180.

      Would Grant have done any better? Had we picked Ryan Grant over a prop who has performed better than him on tour we would have won the series isn’t an argument I’m convinced by. Yes he should have come on at the end, but to say he should have been picked ahead of Vunipola or speculate he wouldn’t have given those points away is a bit of a stretch. Grant is quite penalty prone in the scrum himself.

      Murray is hot and cold. I watched the Samoa game and he didn’t seem to be getting much change out of Mulipola (the Samoan scrum really struggled against Italy and the Boks). I don’t know how they got on against the Boks, but Italy were destroying the Scottish scrum. On the 6N form it looked like Cross was probably ahead of Murray as well. Wilson’s end of season form has been brilliant and Ross is ultra consistent so either of these would be my next pick. Don’t see Murray is unlucky at all regardless of whether Stevens is a good pick or not.

      Hamilton has said himself that whilst he was disappointed to miss out he appreciates his game isn’t suited to the firmer grounds so understood the selection, he then underscored this by looking completely off the pace for the Baa Baas.

      Every nation (including Wales with the like of Ken Owens, Paul James, Ryan Jones and Hook) can point to players they felt were unlucky to miss out. This isn’t a Scottish phenomenon. All that is different this tour is Scotland have a few more players that actually merit discussion, so should be seen as a positive sign of progress.

    3. A really good piece – Grant and Hogg have been treated very badly.
      And Laidlaw should have been in the original pick (as he can cover both half back positions)
      I was pleased to see 12trees and Wade get picked but seeing how they have been treated since (the treatment of the team to face the Brumbies was a disgrace and since then they have been holding tackle bags) – I feel sorry for them

      1. Oh – & I think a number of teams will have a bit of payback for Gatland come the next 6N

        The Irish are obviously pretty pissed off now that Heaslip and BOD have been dumped
        The Scots feel insulted (which is fair)
        And I don’t think the English feel any love for him either

        (A mistake, perhaps, to put an active B&I national coach in charge of the Lions – there will always be accusations of favouritism)

        1. Yeah, the Welsh are for it now. All that love the Irish, English and Scots have had for us over the last few years have helped us sneak those narrow matches. Now they really want to beat us we are in deep do do. Scary thought.

      2. Yeah, 12trees played one blinder test and was then dropped for 1D Barrit. Wade wasn’t even selected, hanging around behind that scoreless Ashton, waiting for him to have his summer rest. Lancaster treated them disg… Oh, sorry. I see, wrong coach you’re having a go at. My mistake. Sorry to hear you no longer support England but I understand.

        1. I don’t think that’s fair at all Brighty. Many England fans were calling for both Wade and 12T during the 6N, so it isn’t now that we suddenly hate coaches. Questioning selection is part of being a fan, stop feeling vindicated by it all – it isn’t aimed at you.

          The issue is having a national coach be the coach of the Lions, it was always going to cause issues.

          1. Jacob, some England fans have expressed a desire to not support Lions this weekend, even to see them lose. Further have gone on to blame Gats for this and mention the whole welsh bias thing. I’m simply pointing out that Gats is not alone in how 12Ts was treated but I don’t remember England fans suddenly and publicly switching their support to France? Not all England fans are now hating the lions obviously, hardly any, but some are.

          2. Brighty, 12Ts may not have been starting for all the 6Ns (oh and by the way he started 2 matches and was dropped for a returning Manu, not Barritt), but at least SL asked him to play his natural game. Similarly, Wade was held back until a summer tour, but again, once chosen he was asked to play his similar game.

            Gatland has a gameplan, and he tries to shoehorn players into it.

            Jonny Sexton has all of a sudden stopped being a running 10, and sits deep and kicks. We have hardly seen him running wrap-around balls. interestingly, he seems to have Farrell more like Sexton, and Sexton more like Farrell, and yet we havent seen Farrell step on the pitch in a test…

            Stuart Hogg was thrown in to play 10 against the leading team in the Aussie conference of the super 15, with a backline who had had 1 session together.

            Jamie Heaslip is told to run tight and do the ruck work (we saw how badly that went in the 6Ns, and Gats still asked him to)

            Croft seems to have been told to play tighter. and he was underused at the lineout.

            Richie Gray has stopped running out in the wide channels.

            12Ts being used as a crash ball, and not a second play maker.

            Wade being brought into heavy traffic in the midfield.

            Bowe not coming off his wing and linking with Sexton.

            and to top it all off, now he has dropped BOD, and shifted the under-performing JD to 13. JD had a stormer against the Tahs, but he is yet to do anything against the Wallabies. add to that that BOD was so aggressive in defence last week, AND we have a NH ref, meaning BOD is likely to not get pinged for his turnover style…

            i am not trying to suggest that Gatland is out to ruin these players, because they are not welsh. i just think that he is trying to showhorn them into a gameplan that doesnt suit their styles. his gameplan is the same he uses with Wales, and therefore the welsh players are all a good fit for it.

            the biggest problem i have is that the wallabies know this gameplan, and they know how to stop it. so gatland should have brought a different gameplan to aus, and used the strengths of the players he selected.

            on your comments about welsh bias, there was always going to be people saying welsh bias. he selected 15 of 35, and of that 15 we now see 10 starting in the test team, and Warbs is injured… with all those players AND the fact that 3/5 of the coaching team are welsh, how is anyone going to see it as different?

            also, on the comments (on another thread) about the lions win it, or the welsh lose it. how can it be seen any differently, the welsh have not won against the wallabies in the last 8 times. any victory tomorrow will surely come from the extra 1-2% brought by players that the welsh don’t usually have (eg Sexton, Bowe). just my thoughts

  14. Staggy, can’t seem to respond to your comment about Scott directly so will do so hear. As I tried to say, I find it ambiguous when assessing the quality of a player in a team such as Scotland, how he might move to a team with better individuals around him. I can see that for you it’s black and white, he’s the form centre of the 6Ns. I wish I was able to be as 100% positive that I was right in spotting exactly who the best players are. For me, when it’s ambiguous, the Lion’s one-off nature means go for the more certain.

    1. Hey, on the plus side at least we’re now on solid rugby debating ground i.e I think this player is X quality, you think he’s Y. Proper rugby debate resumed.

      I do remember him running some good lines during the 6Ns but for me he didn’t rise above BODs 1st match performance, JD/JRs last match performance and Tui’s NZ performance so overall I’m happy with the centres we took. Can’t see where Scott would have squeezed in – instead of Maitland perhaps?

      1. Brighty, you specifically asked about a Scot who was in the top two in his position in the 6N. Scott plays at 12 where his competition was Barritt, D’Arcy? (or was it Earls) and JR. Need I say more! I never said that he was the second coming of Tana Umaga, but I always take note of players that I think play well and he was one that caught my eye in several games over the 6N. On that basis I thought that he should have gone on tour. The others that you mentioned are all 13’s.

        On a rugby related topic and not trying to open things up after calling truce, I do wonder why Gats took Tuilagi if he didn’t trust him at 12 and he was the third choice 13. Do you have any answer for that? Once again genuinely interested in anyone’s comments.

        1. Yep, 3 outsides and 1 inside was not a good call. Apologies about mangling the 12/13, I do that all the time. Once you get past the number 8 I’m afraid my focus waivers – up front is what I care about.

          As for Tui I genuinely cannot remember, when/ what was his injury and when was he available again for selection?

          1. Shoulder stinger and he was available for the second test.

            Interesting point that some of the players may have a point to prove when they next play a gatland coached team.

    2. I can’t seem to reply to your above comment so I’ll do it here.

      That minority of apparent Lions supports seemt to be getting a lot of your attention – and in fact, you seem to be accusing many more of doing so when in fact they are just questioning selection. I have seen you jump of more than enough people on here for just saying they disagree with selection – in fact, I think I have seen more comments about bias and separating nations form you than from anyone else. I just find it strange and very defensive that’s all.

      As you said, most Lions fans, are still Lions fans, but that doesn’t mean they can’t question the selection however they wish.

      1. That’s not true. I’ve directed my replies specifically to the people involved. Last night I believe I was mostly replying to NickC on multiple threads. Not sure where this is going so would rather we just disagree and I’d just say that you are not correct in what I feel when replying.

  15. I think the Maitland and Hogg also lost out because of the game-plan and body-type. Gats clearly like his big players playing direct rugby, and these two don’t really fit that mold. For what it is worth I think they are both better than Cuthbert and could have been used on the wing.

    1. Hogg is taller and heavier than 1/2p (not by a lot granted) Maitland is over 15 stone, that’s heavier than David Haye when he was world heavyweight champ! Not a tiddler

      The Baa Baas and Reds games were both quite loose, I really thought they would suit Hogg and we would see some of the scintillating broken field running he produced in the 6N. Had he done so I think he would put himself in contention for the 23 shirt.

      Cuthbert has been debated to death, I seem to be the only non-Welsh person who thinks he’s any good. I just like wingers who frequently cross the try line and he’s actually got a better record than North in that department!

      1. Yes, but 1/2p is there for his kicking – would he be there if he was a rubbish kicker? I guess we will never know.

        Comparing to boxers is irrelevant, the fact is Cuthbert is a great finisher and crash ball player, were Maitland is more of a link player/speedster. Yes Maitland is not a small guy and you could try and get him to play the crash and bash game – but why would you want to do that? Especially when you have Cuthbert who does it better – which backs up my point it is about the gameplan.

        So maybe my statement “I think they are both better than Cuthbert” should be changed to I prefer they way they play and I personally think it offers the Lions more.

        I guess it is like comparing Quade Cooper with Wilko – you can’t really because they play different styles of game – so it comes down to witch style you prefer or fits the teams game plan.

        1. agree with you about players having different styles. gatland has been trying to shoehorn players into his gameplan, and it doesnt suit them.

          coming into this tour Sexton was touted as the most important man to the lions, and yet we are still to see him play like he usually does…

          Cuthbert suits the Gatland gameplan, as does 1/2p. Maitland and Hogg are a little bit less solid (and crash and bash) so Gatland has plumped for the players who will suit it better, which means he doesnt have to shoehorn in these positions.

  16. Just to add to that – I do rate Cuthbert. Before the Lions tour I actually preferred Cuthbert to North, like I said he is a top finisher. I never thought North lived up to all the hype – until this tour.

  17. Thank god there is finally a piece from the Scottish perspective (& I am English)!!!

    Ironic that Scotland’s record v Australia is 2 wins from 2 games in the last 4 years :-)

  18. This is an interesting article and as a Scot I can relate to a lot of the emotions and feelings that the writer has put into it. It is frustrating to sit and watch a British Lions tour when your nation isnt contributing strongly to it.

    Yes some Scots were unlucky not to go but I dont know if you can argue with the test team selections.

    Ryan Grant is an outstanding scrummager. Im sorry but that cannot be argued with. He has dominated several of the worlds best props. He earnt his place on the bench and I was incredibly upset to seem him not get on. But he hasnt proven himself a starter, maybe he would have if he had been there from the start but lets not get too hung up on it.

    Richie Gray has performed the best of the 4 of them. It would be harsh to drop Parling and Gray deserves his place on the bench. Lets hope he gets on!

    Maitland and Hogg have both had their chances. Maitland has shown glimpses but not enough to show he is any more than fourth choice winger.

    And as for Hogg, well its a bit of a shame because he is one of the most talented footballers on the tour. If anyone had the x factor then it is him. But as has been mentioned above he hasnt grasped his chances. Tiny things went against him in his first two games. He seized an opportunity at 10 in his third outing but a lot went against him in his fourth. This kid is brilliant and hes just turned 21! Mark my words this is not the last the lions will have seen of him.

    And finally a last point is that us Scots dont have much to shout about or be proud of. So when someone does come along we cling onto them tightly. Not just in rugby. Look at Andy Murray and Chris Hoy for example we absolutely worship them up here. I have never heard noise quite like it when Chris Hoy presented the match ball before the New Zealand game last november. People were trying to climb over the barriers just to touch him!

    So my point is when a couple of good players come along and we feel they havent been recognised we understandably get very upset. Watching the Lions this year really has tested my support for Britain as a whole with so little Scottish representation.

    But come kick off on Saturday I will be sitting in the Standing Order pub on George Street in Edinburgh cheering on the Lions and when Richie Gray comes on in the second half the roof will probably blow off the place!

    Heres to the lions and an improving Scotland side. Good luck Lions. Roar loud no matter what part of the British Isles you come from!

    1. Wish we had like buttons as this is a great objective perspective (as was ad’s). Especially given it’s on the back of a couple of days of emotionally charged selection debate.

      Hogg is a special talent, no doubt, he has uncoachable natural ability and incredible raw pace. If he stays healthy I think he could become a great.

      I’m looking forward to Gray coming on as well, could well be a game changer!

  19. I agree with the article in the most part, However I have read many Scots complain about Tim Vissers non-selection. He is a waste of space. A finisher, with huge defensive liabilities and very few footballing skills. He was left found wanting in the 6 Nations and was dropped completely from the squad during Scotland’s most recent tour. He is barely good enough to wear the blue of Scotland never mind the red of the Lions. People need to stop seeing him through rosé tinted glasses. Yes he is quick and can run over the line if sent into space, other than that he is useless.

    1. I agree completely about Visser, shone in a poor Edinburgh team for the last few years.

      He can finish and has the power/strength akin to North/Cuthbert, but is VERY suspect defensively. What Maitland may lack in size compared to North/Visser/Ashton, he makes up in raw speed and footballing ability.

  20. Visser won’t start in the up comin international season. Maitland will come back in on one wing and then Sean Lamont will most likely start on the other as he is hitting the form that be was showing at the start of his career again.

    He probably won’t even be third choice either. American born Glasgow winger tommy Seymour is electric and a much more complete player and took Vissers place in South Africa and is third choice.

  21. Jim Hamilton is, in my opinion, the player hardest done-by in the inital selection, once you overlook Rory Best, who’s been with them the entire tour anyway (Paul James is the other name I feel has really been overlooked harshly). He’s outstanding in the lineout, as good on his own ball as Parling and better at stealing the oppositions than anyone we could have selected and has all that pent-up aggression going for him. He’d’ve ben perfect for the gameplan and style of rugby Gatland likes to play.

    I’d also have taken Laidlaw, but do understand not doing so, although selecting Connor Murray over him is something of a mystery. Likewise, Visser is an excellent club player, but I’m not sure he’s going to do it at international level. Kelly Brown is unlucky he’s got so much competition, while Ross Rennie would’ve been my choice as a call-up if Warburton or Tipuric got injured.

    I think the Scots are within their rights to feel hard done by, but then so are all the nations, perhaps except England, who have been over-represented, especially when we factor in call-ups.

    1. Here is Jim Hamilton’s view on the subject, an acknowledgement that the hard grounds aren’t ideal for him.


      Investec Man of the Series Joe Launchbury is not on tour, Donnacha Ryan is a great candidate, the mobile and superfit enforcer Lawes (who would have suited Warrenball, though I’ll some will laugh at the mention) also misses out. Point is you can fill a squad of players who ‘missed out’ who could give Australia a pretty decent argument.

  22. I do not know where to begin with Gatland and this very poor Lions team.lets start with BOD
    It seems to me that BOD is paying the price for poor selection in the centre,Gatland having chosen three outside centres and one inside.Did it not occur to him that if Roberts got injured his midfield
    Would misfire?Matt Scott should have gone on the tour in place of Davies or Tuilagi.
    It was Davies that missed the tackle on AAC.
    Ryan Grant should have been on the plane in the first instance.
    10 Welsh for tomorrow’s match is a disgrace and Andy Irvine should take some stick over this allowing Gatland to destroy the Loins.
    I have been following them since 1959 and for the first time I hope they get stuffed tomorrow.
    Come on australia

    1. Peter, I’d love to give you a detailed reply but a lot previous comments have already been over this so I just have to say that your stance of now supporting the Aussies, throwing your toys out of pram because you so not have the team you want, is pathetic.

    2. Peter, three very easy responses to your points of view;

      Firstly, I am not sure that it is Andy Irvine’s responsibility to advise the coaching staff who they should pick. Whilst I do not agree with the team picked, I do vehemently agree that it is the coaches who should pick it, and that the head coach should have the final say.

      Secondly, and I have noted this on another thread, Davies’s miss on Ashley-Cooper was a a result of poor communication with O’Driscoll and to suggest that with Scott in the side this would not have happened is ludicrous.

      Lastly, I strongly believe that Murray and Youngs should be the two scrum halves in the 23, and that O’Driscoll should start outside Roberts. But would I ever suggest that I hope the Lions get stuffed because this is not the case??? How ridiculous…….

    3. “Grant should have been on the plane”.

      Which prop, selected ahead of Grant, has he outperformed on this tour?

      “Matt Scott should have gone on the tour in place of Davies or Tuilagi”.

      I can see a good argument for taking a 5th centre (36 or Scott both decent options), but to pick Scott ahead of someone like Tuilagi, who has a strike rate Scott can only fantasise about, would have been a travesty.

      Note also though that Matt Scott had an abomination against Samoa, this is probably why Barritt and 36 were both called up ahead of him.

      Sure the last test in particular was hardly a thing of beauty, but I don’t think that was primarily down to selection or gameplan. It was down to tension and pressure. NZ, purveyors of the best brand of rugby, won a world cup final ‘ugly’. When the pressure comes and the stakes are at their highest that’s often the case. Henry didn’t get blasted for the ugly manor of the win and accused of betraying the values of All Black rugby, he got knighted. Much has been made of the importance of getting a series win, it’s probably going to be another 8 years before we even get half a chance, so for the Lions to stay relevant I’ll take the ugliest win in the history of the game over a beautiful defeat.

      If you are supporting Australia tomorrow I wish you a thoroughly miserable day (though I hope you have a change of heart)!

    4. “have been following them since 1959 and for the first time I hope they get stuffed tomorrow” Peter how sad is it that so many of us agree with you. I personally feel as though a British institution has been stolen and sullied by Gatland.

      I think so many players can feel aggrieved at not being on the tour, but with such a limited game plan that doesn’t require ingenuity or guile maybe they wouldn’t want to be part of it.

      1. I don’t think it is sad at all. We’ve found who the self centred fair weather fans are. We’ve found out for whom it is more important that the Lions do exactly what they want than it is for the Lions to win and be led with integrity, so we’ve found the sort of useless casual sports can that we can’t be bothered with. Weve found the sort of people who have an upper threshold for thw amount of welshmen they are willing to tolerate. Please, support Aus with all of your might, it says more about who you are than it does about The Lions.

        News flash : The Lions isn’t about you and our demands to be heard and acknowledged. You don’t matter a jot once you’ve crossed the line to not being a fan.

        Lions all the way, whoever, whenever, whatever.

        I was annoyed in 2005, not supporting them though was never in my thoughts.

    5. Couldn’t agree more. Gatland has destroyed the ethos of the tour with all the things that you have mentioned, but also by flying in Shane Williams for a game and taking Tom Court off holidays to be in the squad. Those 2, whilst capable guys were not the next in line in their positions and that makes a mockery of the guys who worked hard all season and were left at home.
      Gatland is clearly a good coach but a rubbish selector.
      He still doesn’t know what his strongest line up is and has been “experimenting” after test 1 and 2 (despite weeks of warm up games)
      Now that the pressure is on for the 3rd test his clueless-ness his steered him back to what he knows best – a Welsh selection.

      On the treatment of the Scottish players I feel that they have not been seriously considered and not been given a chance of a test spot.
      Granted Scottish rugby is not that strong but they showed potential in the 6 nations and were better than Ireland.
      On of the beauty of previous Lions tours was that Scottish players were plugged into the test set up and they excelled in having better players around them. Ian Mc Geechan was a master of spotting these individuals. Gatland just does not have that ability and just seems to look at size and weight when picking his team!
      People like Richie Gray, Ryan Grant, Stuart Hogg and Matt Scott could have done that this year……but they are not Welsh!

      Garland has done what the whole Aussie media have been trying to do, he has divided the squad with the Irish and Scots in particular feeling isolated whilst the Welsh machine rolls on.
      Also English players like Tom Croft and Tom and Ben Youngs should feel hard done by (not to mention Chris Robshaw)

      Lions 2013 – no creativity, no ambition, poor selections

      Actually hope the wallabies win today as they at least are trying to play rugby and Gatlands approach should never be successful.

      Lions tours are not just about winning, they are also about an ethos and a style of rugby.

      Please no more kiwi coaches who don’t get it!

      1. Oran, stop being so in ignorant. “I basically imagine that most of the people who are arguing about the issue are like me: it has nothing to do with wanting a fair mixture of players, and everything to do with not wanting a team full of Welshman” – Geech picked zero Scottish players in hist last test. In the entire test series he picked one more Scotsman than Gats. How does that make him a genius blender?

        You hate the welsh. I get it. At least admit it instead of hiding behind a pretence of caring about rugby. You hate the welsh. It’s disturbing as a Welshman to feel such hatred directed our way. It’s gone way beyond banter this week.

        I am happy you’re not a Lions supporter. The thought of sharing an allegiance with you would be disturbing. Enjoy the match, I hope your team lose.

        1. Sorry, wrong cut and paste, I meant this ignorant comment – On of the beauty of previous Lions tours was that Scottish players were plugged into the test set up and they excelled in having better players around them. Ian Mc Geechan was a master of spotting these individuals

          1. Brighty u clearly have nothing better to do except fly off the handle at every comment that goes against your opinions.

            You need to realise and respect that everyone is entitled to have an opinion and maybe, just maybe……other people might see it different to you!

            Please try and show some respect for opinions that differ to yours and less of your childish and pathetic name calling.

          2. Oran, your opinion is that players were not picked because they are welsh. You use incorrect facts to state that previous tours were much more inclusive. You talk about the “other” three nations being hard done by.

            So when your opinion is based on ignorance and a dislike of the welsh, as I am welsh, I feel happy to reply in the manner I have. Dont tell me which “opinions” I can reply to and the manner in which I can reply to them. If you only want replies of a specific type then do not comment on a public forum. Refuting my claims would be the intelligent response, trying to say I should not even make them is feeble.

  23. I’ll stand up for you Peter. And it’s not just about the BOD selection, even though that has turned most of my countrymen into Wallabies fans this Saturday. Gatland has cheapened the jersey with the call ups of Shane Williams and Tom Court just because they happened to be in Australia and had their boots handy.

    His always selecting and then not using one Scot in each test match smacks of tokenism. And the fact that the head coach, the assistant coach, the kicking coach, the video analyst and 10 of the starting 15 are all from Wales leaves the spirit of four nations fighting as one in tatters.

    He ignored the calls to have Joe Scmidt as attack coach because he knew that Joe Schmidt’s winning brand of exciting, attacking rugby as shown by Leinster over the last three years, might give a potential competitor the limelight with the Australian and Kiwi media. Plus Schmidt’s tactics differ widely from the boring bish-bash-bosh of Warrenball. And Joe would never have agreed to dropping BOD in such an unseemly fashion.

    At the start of this tour The Aussie press called the Lions selection “slabs of meat”. Unfortunately they have been proven right. These tourists and especially this coach, do not deserve to inherit the mantle of Ian McGeechan and the class of ’97. Looks like we’ll have to wait till 2017, that is if the Lions concept survives this shambles.

    On the plus side, England, Ireland and Scotland will all now be gunning for Wales, which should add some spice to the 2014 Six Nations.

    1. Cross posting something here as Gavin’s post seems address the same issues.

      Obviously I’m able to talk happily right now because I don’t have to deal with any of the issues around countries/fave-players, so I do have sympathy with people disliking the selection, disliking BOD being dropped, etc. (sympathy but it doesn’t mean I agree – I reckon Tips and Ianto should also be starting).

      I do though have nothing but contempt for the psuedo-intellectual cowardice of “maybe it would be a good thing if the Lions lost” crowd as that is complete tosh – admit you hate them now, admit you’re a fairweather fan who only ever supported them when they did you want. Don’t pretend you have The Lions best interests at heart by pinning your colours to the “I won’t support them because then they’ll play free flowing rugby next time” mast. If you think that then go back and watch the 2nd test in SA in 09. A brutal bosh game of rugby, the best match of rugby I have ever seen, with a lot of the same players.

      And for those openly now shouting “come on you Aussies” so Gatland isn’t proved right, so that “The Welsh” get their comeuppance, I couldn’t care less about you. Enjoy cheering for the Wallabies.

      PS. It’s laughable to think that the other nations gunning for us is scary. I seem to remember that in 2012 the Irish were after us because of the way we dismissed them in the world cup. Also some fans claimed England were going to avenge the Twickenham “no-try” decision this year. If you’re saying you’ve held back in previous matches but now you’re really mad and want to beat us then I pity you.

    2. Gavin – really!

      “Ignored call to have Joe Schmidt as attack coach”. So what?

      The Lions could have asked Schmidt to be head coach if they wished. They didn’t, and so duly the role of the Head Coach is to bring together the coaching team that works for him.

      Schmidt is the coach that didn’t win the Heineken Cup and didn’t win the Top 14 right? Despite being favourites for both.

      As it happens, I like Schmidt as a coach, but you can’t just chuck the 4/5 best coaches together and expect than to function in one direction. Someone has to be in charge, and Gatland was the best choice then.

      As for this “4 nations as one…..in tatters”; what nonsense! How should it work? 15 split equally, with one ( hard done by) nation only getting 3 in? 2 replacements each? Sounds a bit bonkers doesn’t it?

      1. More commonsense from Bulb and Brighty.

        What a load of melodramatic posturing we are seeing. Its like a bunch of small children who have had their toys taken away.

        The Lions idea is that the BEST players from the 4 nations take on the boys from the southern nations. Get that? Its the best players. Not some kind of equal opportunity scheme.

        If the best players are Scottish, play 15 Scots. If the best players are Welsh, play 15 Welsh. Its about being chosen because you are the best – not because you were born in Glasgow, Swansea, Dublin or Milton Keynes

        Now, we all disagree with who the best players are and probably with the tactics used. But that’s not our decision is it? Who gives a crap what some monkey like me behind a keyboard thinks? I’m not the man chosen to coach and select the players to win the series. My balls aren’t on the line

        If you don’t want to support the Lions because BOD has had his testimonial match cancelled or because Scotland really aren’t good enough to have more players or because there’s three more Welsh players than last week – then good riddance, don’t watch the game and please stop with your self-righteous posing on these pages. I dare say we’ll all be better off without you. Certainly there will still be millions of us getting up early on Saturday, feeling all hopeful and excited and shouting for whoever runs out, because they are a Lion.

        1. Talking of “monkeys behind keyboards”, Blub/Bulb is the same nom de plume – just rubbish at typing!

        2. You just do not get the point

          This is a welsh run out for the World Cup and totally demeans the lions jersey

          I hope they get stuffed and maybe for 2017 we might choose a British coach

          Hope beech is still around

          1. I really don’t get the point.

            Please tell me the maximum number of Welsh that should be permitted without demeaning the jersey. We have one more in the 23 than the first test. I just don’t see what the fuss is about.

            I hope each and every one of them plays the game of their lives tomorrow, regardless of whether, in my irrelevant opinion, I would have selected them or not.

            If the non Welsh players come back from the tour and say we they were marginalised, that there was favouritism and bias within the camp, that the tour has been a disgrace to the history and values of the Lions, then I’ll listen.

            There is however no evidence of this. No frustration vented in 140 characters or less that I’m aware of. No one is writing newspaper columns complaining about the management (like Dawson). Everything has seemed pretty tight and united thus far.

          2. Peter, I also hope Geech is around for the next one. I suspect he’ll carry on his tradition of picking zero Scottish players just like he did in his last test in charge.

    3. On the call ups “cheapening” the shirt …

      Right it was clearly a mistake to travel with injured players. This resulted in an increased workload and more players needing to double up because the squad is depleted, which then causes more injuries (Roberts, North, Tuilagi). So the problem snowballs. For 2017 we probably need to be looking at an initial squad of 39 and bring people in immediately when there is an injury.

      However given there was an injury crisis, other than protesting about the decisions that were made, what would you have done? Should we have put the same players out on the Sat, the Tues and the Sat? Given the situation they were in I can’t see that poor decisions were taken.

  24. The racket kicked up here in Ireland by the so-called rugby media regarding the dropping of o’driscoll is way over the top. Gatland has a proven track record as we well know here after head to heads with Wales in recent times. He mad a huge call and is staking a lot on it and could well be proven right. I wonder will Joe Schmidt have the same courage if the occasion demands in the near future with Ireland. I do think that the Scots have got a raw deal and should certainly have greater precence within the squad what ever about the test team and i also feel that we need to seriously look at bringing the Italians in to the whole Lions process in the future as they have after all only two full professional clubs like Scotland and are able to beat all the home nations from time to time , again like Scotland. The first two tests have been epic test matches that tested the players in every facet of the game and were a great advert and shows that we need a good well organised Lions tour more than ever and perhaps some of the second tier countries could be included in the tour itenerary in future . A combined Americas 15 or a Pacific Islands + Japan playing against the Lions in future tours could really drive Rugby global.

    1. Add the Italians? So it becomes the B&I&I lions…

      And the Italians have not beaten ALL of the home nations from time to time, they have not beaten England.

      The calibre of player from Italy isn’t going to be high enough, rugby is still such a small sport there in relation to football. The only players I would take are Castro and Parisse.

      With regards to your America XV or Pacific one. This could grow the game, but again, these are areas where either rugby isn’t big enough, or they lack the infrastructure to host the lions. Not to mention the tradition that goes with the lions. As soon as you start changing that, then there is no longer tradition, and the lions won’t last long.

  25. In reply to the in accurate and in coherent mumbo jumbo from Mr “not so bright”
    I do not hate the Welsh. I think that they have a fine team and I pay money regularly to go and see them play both at club and international level.
    I just don’t think that there should be 10 players from Wales in this team. If Warburton was fit that would have been 11. They have not exactly got a great record against the Aussies in recent times.

    At no point did I tell you what comments to reply to and how to reply to them. If u take the red dragons out of your eyes and actually read what I wrote then u might see that.
    I simply asked u to respect other people’s opinions and not name call and act childishly.

    Enjoy the match!
    Go Lions! I mean Wales! I mean Wallabies ;)

    1. Oran – “Lions 2013 – no creativity, no ambition, poor selections”. Ouch, awkward silence…

  26. Sorry Peter, I can’t hear you for all the roaring going on in this pub. Gats vindicated. Best British and Irish side since 97. Brilliant. Majestic. Power, guile and quality. LIONS!!!!!!!

    1. Yes only after they got rid of Phillips.another poor welsh selection and Davies did not measure up to BOD

      1. Ha ha. 41-16. Ha ha. Poor selection. I wish we selected this poorly for every match. Ha ha. Enjoy, ooops, sorry, I forgot you didn’t enjoy, supporting the Aussies today. How did that go for you? Bitter much? Mwah ha ha ha ha. I’m off for another celebratory pint, enjoy your draught of twisted self pity. Ooops. More name calling from me. Sorry. I’m just so giddy with happiness right now, can you imagine what that feels like? Lions fans know exactly how it feels.

  27. Oh dear, what a lot of ill informed jingoistic rubbish. 10 Taffys because if Gats had put in Evans and Cuthbert and Jenkins and Warbs had been fit he would have been criticised for playing Sexton in the Welsh team (tongue in cheek chaps) If you read the articles that correspond to this in the Torygraph there is the same rubbish about the number of English players and I would guess the same in Ireland too. Fact is Wales have a batch of world class players all at the same time and they deserved their places. Evans and Cuthbert woudldnt have weakend the team one iota. All this will become crystal clear in the autumn internationals this year and next years 6N. If we can unearth another mercurial flyhalf before the next world cup it will take a dodgy ref to stop us.

    1. I really think you are underestimating the impact that some of the non-welsh players had. Don’t get me wrong, the welsh boys were excellent, but swapping in Cuthbert and Evans would have weakened the team. (Bowe was excellent arielly and defensively, and Parling’s tap tackle… Need I say more?)

      Also I wouldn’t get too far ahead of yourself and start predicting far off victories, after all, this group of “world class player” are the ones who saw a AI whitewash, which included a loss to Samoa.

      Now the welsh boys have the monkey off their backs, they have their first win against the wallabies, so they just need to focus on consistency.
      Another area that Wales really struggle is the depth. (While this lot were away with the lions, the next-in-liners lost the Japan). That should be the focus now.

      1. I disagree, Cuthbert & Evans are both right up there and Cuthbert is getting better every game, the suspect defending is much overstated (dont forget Charteris who has been injured). The Aus whitewash was without a coach (Gatland injured Howley completely green) and the Autumn internationals saw us minus half a dozen first second and third choice players (playing 4th choice tight head and fifth choice lock and other poor selections by Howley) Liam Williams (young fullback) instead of George North. Wales should have beaten the Aus several times and would have with Gatland in situ. The last test we lost by 2 points in injury time without Adam Jones, AW Jones, Lydiate & North playing Lou Reed as 6th choice lock. I`m telling you now as sure as god made little apples, all on the pitch together (or close to and our replacements bench has been really strengthened due to last autumns injury crisis) and we will be a match for anyone (now if we can just get that mold of solid gold to produce another Barry John!)

  28. Congratulations to Wales! Finally figured out how to beat the Wallabies. Just add one or 2 foreigners and there ya have it ;)

    Hope to see a return to a proper Lions tour in 2017 with no Gatland involvement.
    For you guys who think that it is just about winning then you will see this shambles as a success.
    Is Ian Mc Geechan the only person on the planet who can actually coach the Lions properly??

    The only winners on this tour are Wales and HSBC, cuz now they have an excuse to generate a few more million in 2017!

    1. Jesus. I have to congratulate Oran for perhaps the most pathetic comment in a thread that’s hardly short of them.

      Well done Brighty, Matt, Blub and a few others for standing up to the fair-weather fans and other assorted cretins.

      Damn, it feels good to be right and to cheer yourself hoarse as your team thumps the opposition

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