Lions Raw: Essential viewing for all rugby fans

Lions Raw, the official documentary of the 2013 Lions tour to Australia, is now on general release, and having been lucky enough to receive an advance copy last week here at TRB, we cannot recommend it highly enough.

The 2013 touring party was the first one to be successful for 16 years, so immediately a different feeling is lent to it – I suppose knowing that the Lions were successful somehow makes it easier to watch the banter in the squad, and the more light-hearted moments.

While the highlights of the games are brilliant to relive – particularly the test matches, all of which were simply brilliant games of rugby – it is away from the live action that the really interesting stuff lies. It is fascinating to get a view into the changing rooms before, during and after games. The leaders amongst the squad really stand out here – Sam Warburton, Paul O’Connell, Brian O’Driscoll, Jamie Heaslip and Geoff Parling all deliver excellent speeches in different circumstances. Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree, too, are inspirational at times.

One of the most fascinating moments comes early on, when we get a brief insight into the selection process in a scene from the final selection meeting. You never really imagine how such a tough selection like that is come to, but the tension in that meeting is truly palpable. No one envied Warren Gatland at the time, but the pressure on not just him but his entire coaching team is plain to see in that moment.

There is the usual dosage of high jinx, including a court scene in which Simon Zebo has to make a excruciatingly embarrassing phone call – it might not have the booze-fuelled camaraderie of the infamous ’97 Kangaroo Court, but it is still evident that the players, above all, had a lot of fun and made a lot of friends on tour.

If you’ve ordered your copy of the DVD but it hasn’t arrived yet, you can whet the appetite with this trailer:

If you haven’t yet ordered it yet, you can do so on Amazon by clicking here.