Monday, 8 July 2013

Lions 2013: a verdict (of sorts)

It would be incredibly churlish of me not to congratulate Warren Gatland and his team on the comprehensive thumping of the Aussies in the 3rd Test on Saturday. The Lions simply dismantled the Aussie challenge upfront and reaped the rewards.

Given that it had been such a tight series until Sydney no one, but no one, had envisaged such a thrashing - the Lions saved their best performance until last and were deserved series winners.

And yet, and that the dust has settled and all the hysterical back slapping and indulgent self-congratulation has died down a little, there remains (at least for me) something that was not quite right with this tour, something that does not quite chime with the general mood of triumphalism which accompanied the series win, something that made it difficult for me (and perhaps a few other non-Welshmen), to engage fully with this Lions tour.

As a long time supporter of the Lions since way back in 1980 the only other time I had a similar feeling was during Sir Clive's misguided attempt at leading a bloated Lions tour party overloaded with Englishmen to New Zealand in 2005. I'm referring, of course, to the question of selection.

Yes, that old chestnut. Much was made last week of the general whohar around the dropping of BOD from the final Test team against the Aussies. As it goes I thought that the selection of JD2 ahead of the anointed one was a fair shout. But here's the thing ... I would have had no beef whatsoever with the number of Welshmen in the Lions squad or indeed the starting XV in the final Test had someone like Ian McGeechan made the call. The problem for me was not with the players selected but the fact that they were selected by the incumbent Welsh head coach and his assistant.

Of course the selections worked, the Welsh boys went out, played Warrenball incredibly well and got the result - the means justified the end..

Rightly or wrongly, however, much like with Woodward in 2005, it's difficult to escape the whiff of parochialism. After all, aside from the Australian Rugby Union (who are seriously quids in) the main beneficiary of this tour was Warren Gatland who was able to lead the vast majority of his Welsh team through a tough international series that can only benefit his preparations for the 2015 World Cup.

Just saying...

1 comment:

Rich S said...

Agree. However it does also mean that a swathe of non-Welsh players have been indoctrinated into Warrenball in some depth, which should serve to demystify it a little during the upcoming 6 Nations.