- The Lions brand is alive and kicking. Yes, there are issues with preparation time, length of tours, standard of provincial opposition and ticket prices but this group have restored the one thing that went AWOL in 2005 - credibility.
- BOD is, without a shadow of a doubt, GOD. Player of the tour by miles.
- Peter de Villiers is, without a shadow of a doubt, a clown. And not a very funny one at that.
- The players return to Britain and Ireland knowing that they so very nearly won a series in the Southern Hemisphere. Coulda, woulda, shoulda? Maybe, but don't underestimate the effect that winning that 3rd Test could have - for many it was their first ever victory over a 3N team.
- For the Irish boys, the form of Jamie Heaslip, Rob Kearney and Tommy Bowe - along with the excellent BOD - bodes well, although there may well be concerns about the tight 5 going forward. And the less said about ROG the better.
- For Wales, the fact that they ultimately provided the Lions first choice front row must be a cause for optimism, and they can safely claim to now have 2 genuine world class operators in Jamie Roberts and Mike Phillips. If they can forget about Gavin Henson and keep Martyn Williams going they should go from strength to strength.
- The Scots will have learned precious little, other than they have some way to go to catch up with the others. In reality none of the Scots was anywhere near the Test team but you never know - Messrs Blair, Ford, Hines and Murray may well have derived something from the trip that they can take back into the Scottish camp.
- As for England, it should not go unnoticed that they had 8 players involved in that 3rd Test victory. Upfront England are looking in good shape - Sheridan, Croft and Worsley all had excellent tours, while Simon Shaw was simply immense. And even Lee Mears and Phil Vickery were in good form until the 1st test scrummaging shambles. Behind the scrum Riki Flutey can now be considered a fully fledged international 12 - a problem position ever since the retirement of Will Greenwood - and Ugo Monye also had his moments, adding to the talent already to Martin Johnson in the back three. Now if they could just squeeze another 2 years out of Shaw and keep a certain Mr Wilkinson fit...
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
So, with the Lions now back from South Africa, what have we learned? Try this for starters...