First Test XVs from previous Lions Tours

lionsAs Warren Gatland’s announcement of the team for the first test against Australia this weekend edges ever nearer, we thought it would be interesting to look at the teams that have been picked on past tours for that all-important first test.

1997 tour to South Africa – won 25-16
15. Neil Jenkins 14. Ieuan Evans 13. Scott Gibbs 12. Jeremy Guscott 11. Alan Tait 10. Gregor Townsend 9. Matt Dawson 1. Tom Smith 2. Keith Wood 3. Paul Wallace 4. Martin Johnson (capt) 5. Jeremy Davidson 6. Lawrence Dallaglio 7. Richard Hill 8. Tim Rodber

Tries from Matt Dawson and Alan Tait, along with five penalties from Neil Jenkins, were enough to see the Lions to an historic opening victory over the South Africans. It was a win that laid the foundations for the tourists to win a tour no-one had given then a hope for, and stands to this day as the last successful Lions tour.

2001 tour to Australia – won 29-13
15. Matt Perry 14. Dafydd James 13. Rob Henderson 12. Brian O’Driscoll 11. Jason Robinson 10. Jonny Wilkinson 9. Rob Howley 1. Tom Smith 2. Keith Wood 3. Phil Vickery 4. Martin Johnson 5. Danny Grewcock 6. Martin Corry 7. Richard Hill 8. Scott Quinnell

The game that announced O’Driscoll to the wider world, it was to be a false dawn as the Lions ended up losing the series 2-1. Tries from Robinson, BOD, Quinnell and James were enough for victory here.

2005 tour to New Zealand – lost 21-3
15. Jason Robinson 14. Josh Lewsey 13. Brian O’Driscoll (capt) 12. Jonny Wilkinson 11. Gareth Thomas 10. Stephen Jones 9. Dwayne Peel 1. Gethin Jenkins 2. Shane Byrne 3. Julian White 4. Paul O’Connell 5. Ben Kay 6. Richard Hill 7. Neil Back 8. Martin Corry

Sadly this game was a sign of things to come, as the Lions crashed to a 3-0 series whitewash. The opening test will forever be remembered for the spear tackle on tour captain Brian O’Driscoll that kept him out of the rest of the tour.

2009 tour to South Africa – lost 26-21
15. Lee Byrne 14. Tommy Bowe 13. Brian O’Driscoll 12. Jamie Roberts 11. Ugo Monye 10. Stephen Jones 9. Mike Phillips 1. Gethin Jenkins 2. Lee Mears 3. Phil Vickery 4. Alun Wyn Jones 5. Paul O’Connell (capt) 6. Tom Croft 7. David Wallace 8. Jamie Heaslip

Two converted tries from Tom Croft and one from Mike Phillips was enough to make this a devilishly close affair, and in the end the boot of Ruan Pienaar was what separated the teams. There is the potential for seven of the above players to be named in the team to take on Australia on Saturday.

So where does the current crop, and likely starting XV for tomorrow, rank amongst the above teams? Will they be able to emulate the heroics of the 1997 group, or suffer the ignominy of the 2005 whitewash?

5 thoughts on “First Test XVs from previous Lions Tours

  1. Man for Man it should be better than 2009 Halfpenny over Byrne, North over Monye, Sexton over Jones, Youngs/Hibbard over Mears, Jones over Vickery, Warburton over Wallace and 6 of the 2009 team will likely start on saturday. Only loses I can see there are Jenkins, Bowe and Roberts.

    1. Warbuton over Wallace? I am yet to see justification (via warbuton performances) as to why that would be better.

      1. of late maybe not, but in 2011 when Wales reached the RWC semi and then won the grand slam, everyone was saying Waburton was the 3rd best 7 in the world, I’m Irish but David Wallace has never been mentioned in that breath before, admittedly Warburton has not been up to scratch of late.

  2. 1st test team v South Africa, june 8th 1974
    JPR Williams
    JJ Williams
    gareth Edwards
    merv Davies
    Roger Uttley
    Fergus Slattery
    Broon from Troon
    Willie John
    Fran Cotton
    Bobby Windsor
    Ian McLauchlin

  3. On reflection some odd names crop up among the quality on offer. I wonder who will be regarded as the odd selections in this team in 8 years? And why play Wilko at centre!

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