The Internal Struggle

There was OUTRAGE of the highest order yesterday, after Gatty unceremoniously dumped you-know-who ahead of the you-know-what on Saturday. The OUTRAGE bubbled and boiled at the injustice of dropping that-bloke-called-Brian and more than a few Irish fans declared themselves Wallaby fans ahead of Saturday.

And no doubt they are serious. Personally, we would find it pretty hard to cheer against any representative team containing Johnny Sexton, Sean O’Brien and Tommy Bowe (unless they all signed for Saracens), but it’s a very understandable emotion. We’ve talked before about how many fans feel they don’t really have a stake in the Lions and how it’s tough to really buy into the team, so it’s quite obvious how disappointment can breed resentment.  It’s easy to talk about getting behind the Lions and how there are no nationalities, just 15 Lions (though this is easier said when the team is full of your own national heroes!), but deep down, it doesn’t really work that way for anyone.  At the end of the day, folk have an affinity with the players they adore for their club/province and nation.  There’s no instinctive reason to feel emotionally attached to a mainly Welsh team playing such reductive rugby – unless you’re Welsh, or really enjoy negative rugby.  The great binding force of the Lions crest can only get one so far, particularly when it has become so wearisomely rammed down supporters’ throats by the Sky machine.

While it’s difficult to completely disentangle one’s emotions after the whole BOD affair, it’s not so much the OUTRAGE over the dropping of Ireland’s national icon that is so deflating, but the message it sends out about the identity of this Lions touring squad.  It’s a sad indictment of this Lions coaching team when the most skilful players – Brian O’Driscoll and Justin Tipuric – are passed over for bigger chaps who can bosh harder.  Is this really the best the Lions can do?  I thought this was the pinnacle of the game, or something.

While we’ll be cheering for the Lions on saturday, there is a goodly portion of our being that feel the best result for all concerned is an Australia win.  This Lions squad simply doesn’t deserve to win the series (barring a sudden about-turn in performance and approach entirely out of keeping with the selection and the first two tests).  Sky will tell you that ‘immortality’ beckons for the winners, but does it really?  Immortality, for scraping out two wins (one of which was undeserved) against a misfiring Australia?  In what has been a lamentably poor quality series thus far, the Aussies have been the better side in all facets of the game, have shown occasional invention, been brave (foolhardy?) in selection (three debutants and a rookie outhalf for Brisbane), have at least two bona fide geniuses in their team and, crucially, have played all the rugby on offer (such as it has been).  They are far from a great team, and frequently go backwards in their attempts to attack, but at least they’ve tried to play with the ball.

This Lions team and squad is supposed to be the best the Northern Hemisphere (well, the old public school English-speaking Northern Hemisphere) has to offer – and they haven’t covered their Hemipshere (go Northern Hemisphere!) in glory. They have bished, bashed, shunted, huffed, puffed and boshed (in the Tests) – which should have been expected, to be frank.

This years Six Nations was an utter abomination. It started and ended brilliantly, involving the best and worst of the Welsh, but in between, plumbed the depths – the Wales-France game was simply appalling and England and Ireland got more and more dismal as the tournament progressed. And the domestic competitions weren’t much better – the Heineken Cup was dominated by the French, and won by a bosh-and-bullet bunch of mercenaries whose only try in the knock-out stages involved Europe’s most dislikeable player. Ulster and Leinster served up a decent Pro12 final that befitted a rejuvenated competition, but only Leicester Tigers really got the pulses racing.  When you’re relying on the Tigers for attacking rugby, well…

The Lions are essentially composed of Leicester and Leinster players bolted onto the (Six Nations winning) Wales squad – and it’s been grim to watch. If the Lions do manage to win in Sydney, it will be a disaster for Northern Hemisphere rugby – a Neanderthal gameplan that prizes brawn over brain will have prevailed and will doubtless become orthodoxy all the way to RWC15. At least Ireland can rely on Joe Schmidt to buck the trend, but on the squidgy February pitches even he will be up against it.  Where are the skills? Where is the daring? I’m sure we aren’t alone in thinking players don’t need to be from below the equator to be able to play an enterprising and watchable brand of rugby, while retaining enough forward power to get the Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeave going.  Fancy the Lions Tour commemorative DVD under your Christmas tree?  No thanks.  But… Immortality!

Ultimately, wouldn’t it be better to come home in a welter of hand-wringing, wondering why the best that four Nations has to offer couldn’t beat a Wallaby team that was begging, begging, to be beaten. There’s something unsettling about the thought of Gatland being vindicated having presided over such a dispiritingly awful series and after his grandstanding in dropping Brian O’Driscoll.  In Sydney, we’ll be hoping the Lions come out, and contrary to all the pre-match signifiers, give it a good lash, play some decent stuff, show well (all of them, not just the Irish), contribute to a great game of rugby and thrash the Aussies by four tries to one.  But if they set their stall out to grind and bosh their way to a win, there will be a considerable dose of schadenfreude in Cordite Towers if they get what they deserve, which is to lose.

Post-script: re the OUTRAGE – have we really gone for the ‘Justice for BOD’ line? Justice? Really? Too strong? Maybe we should ask the Egyptian public their thoughts on this ‘injustice’?

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84 Comments

  1. Small point – I agree re the: “Injustice” hyperbole, all the same I’m fairly impressed that the facebook page has gotten 110,000 + likes in the space of 24 hours. Shows how rugby is so important to Irish under 35s these days. Which is one positive to take from the affair.

    • On “Justice for BOD”: the (worldwide) Amnesty International page has 18 million. It’s funny, and just the Hinternets works I guess.

      • Sorry, typing skills of a one-armed orangutan. Should have said Amnesty International has less than 200,000 likes, Friends tv show has more than 18 milion, but I used the mathematical symbols and inadvertently hid half the comment…

  2. With a night to sleep on my emotions I have come to the conclusion that I will watch the game in a different manner to what I’d actually like to. I will focus on the performances of our Irish Lions principally with a view on Ireland Autumn Internationals.

    Has Jonny actually learned anything from this tour? Skill-set wise no, but I think his leadership has again come on leaps and bounds and I’d like to see this again on Saturday. My devastation that he is leaving Leinster still hasn’t subsided but if he continues this upward progression for Ireland then Schmidt et al will be very happy indeed.

    SOB, I think Sean is going to be absolutely steaming come the start of the new season. He has done his best but been overlooked for frankly inferior players time and again on this tour. I expect him to be man of the match on Saturday due to this chip on his shoulder and cannot wait to see his performances for Leinster firstly, but mainly Ireland against the SH.

    Tommy, Tommy Bowe looked desperate to get involved last week, sadly I fear the same for him this week. I think though he will see any time on the pitch as a bonus given the injuries he’s had this season. Will be conspicuous by his absence except from contesting garryowens and restarts unfortunately. Next season will be interesting for him, if he stays injury free he’s still the best winger in Ireland and up their with North in effectiveness. Again bonus Ireland as his confidence will sky rocket given the trust that’s been placed on him with the Lions.

    All in all, some positives to look forward to, and now I’ve found reason to watch the match and hopefully not be bored stiff of bish bash bosh from the other 12 players 🙂

  3. About your survey:
    Where was the “Lions to win, so they become a somewhat less endangered species (but if they lose let it be by 30 so Gatland gets it in the neck)” option?

  4. itsokeane

     /  July 4, 2013

    Nail on the head again, I find myself completely uninvested in this game which means I’d prefer the only team playing rugby to win.
    Unfortunate because I remember actually caring about the 09 tour. Just me or does it depend entirely on the head coach how we feel about the Lions?

  5. mikebrad

     /  July 4, 2013

    Could the Irish military stage a coup to remove gatland? Nothing like the internet/social media to blow something out if proportion.

    • Flash Git

       /  July 8, 2013

      The Irish Mitary couldn’t stage a fart after a dinner of baked beans.
      Wishful thinking but I’d sooner hold my nose than my breath if I were you Mike

  6. toro toro

     /  July 4, 2013

    Yes, of course it counts as “injustice”. Nobody has said “an injustice on the scale of military dictatorship” or anything like it; that it’s on a much smaller scale doesn’t mean it isn’t also unjust.

    Come to think of it, I do recall Ger Loughnane describing Colin Lynch being suspended as “the worst human rights abuse in history”.

  7. The “Injustice” thing is hyperbole. Gatland’s decision can be understood, but that doesn’t make it the right one. The worrying thing is that his Plan B seems to be “Same as Plan A, except with players who didn’t make the starting team but will hopefully be a little fresher.” Which means that creative, experienced players must make way for those “slabs of meat”(TM).
    It’s going to be a long, lonely game for Tommy Bowe, I fear, chasing Garryowens in the hope of a moment of brilliance or two. Not beyond the bounds of possibility, but this is the first Lions game I won’t be looking forward to watching…

  8. Not a fan of Gatland, never have been and never will be. I can understand why he has picked the team and I actually called BOD getting dropped, I thought it would be for Tuilagi as Davies has been poor in the tests. For how he wants to play I agree with the call 100%, if you’re going to play that way BOD isn’t the guy to do that. Most will agree that this is not the way to beat Australia, I agree and Wales’ results prove this but in the tour we haven’t seen a full commitment to Gatlandball at least this is actually it in full practice.

    I hate his gameplan and I can’t see it working but dropping BOD was probably the best move (if you were only dropping one centre it would have been Davies but I thought both were going to be replaced).

    BOD doesn’t have a given right to get picked, what annoys me is he was the better of the two centres but I would back Gatland’s decision to drop BOD (again I would have brought Tuilagi in too) given how he wants to play. The Justice for BOD thing is a bit of joke in my opinion.

  9. I couldn’t care if the Lions win or lose. I don’t even agree with the idea of Britain to start with, so I find all the hype pretty difficult to stomach. I’d also agree with you that Gatland’s plan is regimental and often negative. However, suggesting that Ireland is the last bastion of running rugby is a little ridiculous. I think you’ll find that there are a number of creative players in Saturday’s team. Wales’ cagey, negative play in the 6N was mostly down to being on a terrible run and low on confidence. Once that confidence returned, the rugby was astonishing against a team who’d beaten the All Blacks a few months previously.

    I agree with a number of issues you raise and that northern hemisphere rugby is in a bit of a state, in Wales in particular. Still, look at the Lions’ game v NSW to see some creative and mesmerising rugby. And BOD wasn’t even playing.

  10. ORiordan

     /  July 4, 2013

    It was mentioned on the previous thread, but I don’t recall all this Irish meeja hand wringing about a negative game plan when Munster were picking, driving and sealing off to a second HEC win.

    I have no issue with the Lions boshing their way to a victory, whether it is by one point or more, it is just that they haven’t shown they are particularly good at any game plan, whether it involves boshing or not.

    • Amiga500

       /  July 4, 2013

      But even Munster had the ruck-Radge-corner-lineout-O’Connell-PRESSURE tactic.

      The pussy-cats don’t even have that.

    • Also the boshing your way to victory gameplan hasn’t worked against Australia so far. It’s easier to get behind a game plan when it works! It doesn’t make victory impossible it just makes it high risk

      • The boshing tactic assumes that eventually line speed & reset will suffer and then the opposition will start to slip off tackles. But the Aussies pretty much all grew up playing league as well, right?
        20 tackles, you want a pat on the back for that? Get up off your arse and make 15 more.

    • ehhweasel

       /  July 4, 2013

      This has already been addressed. Munster ’08 won the game first then closed in down.

      They didn’t go out with the game plan of basically losing on purpose, which, in my view, is more or less what happened in the second test.

      • ORiordan

         /  July 4, 2013

        I’m not sure how you say the Lions set out to lose the second test on purpose. The Lions were 6 points ahead with 15 minutes to go, Munster were 3 points ahead with 15 minutes to go. Munster were better at closing out the game than the Lions.

    • It’s fair to say that the Irish media were nevre going to criticise that Munster team no matter what they did, but it’s not really comparing like with like. Provincial and even national teams have to cut thir cloth according to what they have. Munster had a grizzled test-grade pack and the best territorial kicking 10 of the era. Of course they were going to make the best of what they had.

      The Lions have easily enough talent at their disposable to play a more progressive game. Indeed, not just for aesthetics, the imortant thing as far as we’re concerned is it would give them a better chance of winning.

      Basically what Kate said.

  11. Shelflife68

     /  July 4, 2013

    Nail on the head again. I was at the 2nd test and while 1/2p was lining up the kick , I actually wondered if I wanted him to make it. Bizarre really when you consider I had travelled half way around the world to support them. Yet here we were on the edge of winning the series and I wondered if we really deserved it, IMO not in the way that we had played. A terrible dire sickening game , made even worse knowing that I had paid $500 for two “gold” tickets to see it.
    I wouldn’t read too much into the bod injustice campaign , kids will like something that their friends like so as not to be the odd one out.
    That said I was very surprised that he was dropped and Davis retained,suprised that Phillips frogleaped Murray , and suprised that tupric hasn’t got a look in at all. I have no problem with Bod being dropped as long as an equal or better player replaces him. IMO this I’d not the case here.
    I think that gatland has done the lions a disservice overall. I think that he has cheapened the brand and not really bought into the whole ethos of the game.
    I think that his selection policies have HIS best interests at heart and not the teams.

  12. Ciaran

     /  July 4, 2013

    The #JusticeForBOD thing is slightly tongue in cheek surely. Like the #PrayForWhoever tags that go around every so often when someone stubs their toe.

  13. Watching the 97 Lions Tour led by the greatest villain of the all, Martin Johnson, I still wanted them to win. Personally, I loved being able to support one of the great lock forwards of all time. But, as soon as he took off the Lions shirt, I hated him again until he wore it 4 years later in Australia. On the last tour, I loved cheering on Roberts and O’Driscoll playing together.

    Gatland has all but ruined the Lions for me. Special players being forced to play the most disgusting type of blunderbuss rugby. What has happened to this wonderful game?When you think of all those great Welsh and Lions sides of the 70s and then to see those heroes saying there is not Welsh players in the team (JPR’s column on the BBC website) really makes you question the whole idea of the Lions. It would be bad for the game of rugby if the Lions win on Saturday.

  14. Elsmido

     /  July 4, 2013

    I think everyone cheers for their own players in any Lions games. You want them to show their best on the big stage and get selected for the test team. This has just been exacerbated by Gatlands selections and tactics this time to the extent that, because of the amount of Welsh players, it gives a distorted view of their abilities in relation to players from the other countries.

    I do have a problem with BOD being dropped as he is still one of, if not the best, in his position around. Irish rugby fans have had an extremely frustrating year with Kidney’s equally conservative tactics and lack of joined-up thinking as well as the ridiculous amount of injuries (bear in mind that there would have been two more Irish playing tomorrow, albeit at the expense of English players, if it weren’t for injuries).

    While I don’t expect there to be a quota, I do feel that Gatland has put himself and his Welsh players first and has ensured that he cannot lose on Saturday. He keeps his full time employers happy by picking so many of their players and gives them invaluable experience in a high profile on-off game against SH opposition, perfect preparation for the WC.

    I think we all saw it coming but didn’t want to admit it. But many non-Welsh fans are left with a sense of betrayal. This will have done more damage to the Lions concept than any losing streak.

  15. I’m not sure what’s happened with the Lions this year but I really haven’t particularly cared about it. the last few tours I added sky sports to my tv package for the few weeks, this year I just couldn’t be bothered. I think because the squad selected was just so blehh.. the only talking point on the initial naming was the fact of only 2 OH’s being selected, otherwise there wasn’t really any controversy. The only bright spark from the whole thing has been the experience gained by Conor Murray, but apart from that we’ve seen POC & Tommy get injured *again*, BOD dropped for inane reasons, heaslip breaking his houdini habit & then get dropped. Was Kearney even on this tour ? rory Best played his way down the international pecking order & will be lucky to get the Green jersey again next season, Sean O’Brien at least did play his way into the side despite Gatland & rowntree’s prejudices.
    I think I lost interest when I heard the coaching ticket.. don’t trust any of them to be un-biased in their assessments of players.
    The fact that I’ve aussie citizenship as well as Irish leaves me 100% on the fence & not really giving a toss about the result & just hoping no more of the irish lads pick up injuries !

  16. Leinsterlion

     /  July 4, 2013

    At the end of the day its NH vs SH so I’m supporting the sheepshaggers+ 5 others, never mind the fact they are led by a blasphemous heretic and coached by Cro-Magnon men.

    • toro toro

       /  July 4, 2013

      Yesterday “fat Islanders”, today “sheepshaggers”.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  July 5, 2013

        I know, I should have been more precise, sheepshaggers could just as easily apply to the Aussies, “10 Taffs and the rest” should suffice. Also, Vunipola is a fat Islander, what other adjectives would you use to describe him?

        • toro toro

           /  July 5, 2013

          Not being a racist arsehole, I wouldn’t refer to it in completely irrelevant contexts at all.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  July 5, 2013

            Racist? So banter and humorous adjectives are classified as racism? Richardt Strauss is a bald manlet, THROW ME IN JAIL!!
            Lighten up.

          • toro toro

             /  July 5, 2013

            What is it you find humourous about “Islander”, exactly? You’re really digging your own hole here.

            “Lighten up! It’s all just a joke!” Jesus wept.

          • toro toro

             /  July 5, 2013

            To be clear, only the *racist* banter and “humourous” adjectives get called racist. If you manage to use non-racist ones, they won’t be called racist. So, if you call Erik Lund “scary-bearded” it won’t be racist, whereas if you call Mako Vunipola a “fat Islander” or, I don’t know, Kurtley Beale a “drunken Abo” (which others on here have been only inches away from) that will be racist, no matter how “humourous” you find the “banter”.

            It’s really quite simple.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  July 5, 2013

            Is Mako Vunipola not Fat? Is he not from Tonga? Therefore he is a “fat Islander”, whats racist about that? I’m describing the guy. Hes a fat guy from an Island in the south pacific, the only one in the team, you immediately knew who I meant, in the same way you knew what I meant when I referred to Stevens as a “coke head”. You are inventing racism where there is none, in what universe is calling someone (from an Island) an “Islander” a pejorative term?

          • Leinsterlion

             /  July 5, 2013

            At the risk of sounding like a Daily Mail reader, you are the perfect example of political correctness gone mad, I actually googled to see could what I wrote be construed as racist in any way, and came up blank. Are you studying patriarchal oppression and racial sensitivity studies at a Liberal Arts college by any chance?

          • toro toro

             /  July 5, 2013

            (…sigh…)

            You’re bringing up his ethnicity where it’s completely irrelevant to any point you could be making, tacking on a racial stereotype (which *happens* to be true in his case, and his nevertheless equally irrelevant), and all in the service of a post “humourously” denigrating him as “banter”. It may not be shooting Medgar Evers, but there’s no question that it’s racist.

            FWIW, I’m not studying anything. But you started sounding like a Daily Mail reader many, many posts before you guessed that.

            Plus the “what’s wrong with that? maybe *you’re* the *real* racist if you think what I said is bad” card. Always a twunt’s trick, that, sub-“some of my best friends” stuff.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  July 5, 2013

            If only your sensitivity and “knowledge” about perceived racial slurs extended towards the English language, specifically the convention of nomenclature/taxonomy and use of adjectives. I suppose wishing for a drab PC future where “THX1138” is enough to describe someone must keep you busy from expanding your vocabulary and command of the English language.

            Or I could be wrong, white/black/asian/hispanic/african/islander/european/man/woman/boy/girl/alien hominid/fat/skinny/ginger/bald et al, are redundant terms and everyone should now be referred to by their PPS numbers so as not to offend.

          • Mary Hinge

             /  July 7, 2013

            You really are a knob Leinsterlion….

          • Leinsterlion

             /  July 7, 2013

            Yeah, well, y’know, that’s just like, your opinion, man.

  17. Jimbob

     /  July 4, 2013

    Simply can’t support the Lions now due to Gatlands awful selecting and muck tactics. All I can look to now is what sort of style Leinster play under MOC and the Joe Schmidt show in November.

  18. abitofshoepie

     /  July 4, 2013

    Interesting. The survey results currently look like 90% of the readership are not directly supporting the Lions, largely due to Warrenball by the sounds of it.

    Going slightly off piste, its a wonder how a great rugby nation like Wales – who have produced some of the finest running backs the game has seen and unlike Ireland have not been starved of success – have managed to put up with Gatty for so long. The Millenium is usually packed, yet their regional grounds are like graveyards on some nights. The answer is simple, when people choose how to spend their hard earned cash and free time they like to watch and be associated with success. If the Lions sneak win on Saturday they will go down as one of the all time great sides and Gatty will be feted throughout the land….if not they will be seen as a bunch of duffers and Gatty a ‘Kiwi reject’ or something tabloidy like that. History is written by the victors, and a collapsed scrum is all it could take….

  19. “History is written by the victors…” yep, and we leave the whiney blogs to the losers. What a load of self interested tripe this article is while trying to pretend to be a serious article.

    “We’re not really just annoyed at 10 Welshmen, oh no, honest guv, we have proper rugby spirit, tradition and elan reasons for secretly wanting these 10 Wels… I mean these Lions to fall so hard on their faces that we can all laugh, and laugh and laugh and get on with the “I told you so”…”. Pathetic. Please please please come out before the test in support of the Aussies, you know you want to.

    • Jimmy

       /  July 4, 2013

      I think most will cheer the Lions in the end, it is always good to beat the Tri teams irrespective of the style of play. I think the sentiment is that it is hard to get excited by the game, a bit like trying to get all revved up for Cardiff blues v Zebre or something like that.

      • toro toro

         /  July 4, 2013

        “What a load of self interested tripe this article is ”

        You think Palla and Egg reckon they’re next in the running for selection, kept out only because of Gatland’s favouritism? Or are you just not very bright?

        Mind you, they’re probably not a hundred miles off the remaining depth chart at LH prop…

    • Don’t waste your time using logic Brighty – this is a fottie blog with a bunch of fottie fans disguising themselves as rugby fans.

      They certainly are not Lions fans – which is all about supporting the team/squad in their endeavours as Lions.

      These bitter ‘fans’ are just casual Irish supporters who are only interested in a bean counting exercise of revelling in the number of Irish players in a Lions team which somehow buffets their rather sad egos.

      Real Lions support the team of 15 Lions – not support 3 Irish guys but hope the Lions lose. They try and justify their pathetic and childish schadenfreude, because the big bad Mr Gatland didn’t pick a 34 year old guy who’s not in the best of form.

      And if you challenge that it’s some other nonsense like a. I don’t like their rugby style b. I don’t like the ethos of picking too many Welsh players (too many Irish is of course perfectly acceptable).

      All of which is perfectly fine right coz it’s just a blog and any idiot can write this crap. Don’t feed the trolls.

      • We’ve been expecing you Saul 🙂

        It’s very easy as a Welshman who has 10 of his national heroes in the Lions team to lecture others about how enthusiastic they should apparently be about the team. There are no rules about how passionate you have to be to qualify as a rugby fan, and not be a fottie [sic] fan, whatever the hell that means.

        There’s a lot of twaddle written about the Lions. Sure, the concept is special, and the great tradition of representing the jersey has been passed down by some great names and great teams, and that merits respect. But what’s been lost on this tour, as it was in 1995, is that the precise reasons the Lions is so special are fragile and have to be nurtured. It’s well and good telling everyone that the Lions is special just because it’s the Lions, but if what made the concept so special in the first place is trampled into the dirt, then it ceases to be special!

        Either it’s a special, unique concept and if you don’t understand that you’re not a real fan, OR it’s all about scratching out a test series win, no metter how ugly the brand of rugby. It can’t possibly be both.

        • Sorry guys – you’ve lost me – this is just balls

          • toro toro

             /  July 5, 2013

            “Don’t feed the trolls.”

          • toro toro

             /  July 5, 2013

            (…Irony-meter explodes, leaving a charred wasteland where Warren Gatland’s reputation as a coach used to be….)

  20. Exil

     /  July 4, 2013

    My heart is ruling my head on this one, and for the sake of sentiment I am hoping BOD is named as the 24th man. Somebody (probably Tuilangi) gets injured in the warm up, BOD is elevated to the bench and comes on after 60 mins to score the crucial series-winning try.

    • Exile

       /  July 4, 2013

      F**k me. I should have put a bet on!

  21. Gareth

     /  July 4, 2013

    Who do you think are the other Australian geniuses after genia ? Folau? Beale? Smith?

    • osheaf01

       /  July 5, 2013

      Horwill. He’s some man to be playing Test rugby for a man so short-sighted, he can’t even see what he’s stepping on…

  22. Buccaneer

     /  July 4, 2013

    I will support the Lions on Saturday. There are still 3+1 of our boys playing (representing 3 provinces as it happens) and I wouldnt feel right not supporting them.

    It certainly wont be pretty, thats for sure. its an awful pity, the firepower in the back 3 should have the wobs scared sh1tl3ss but with Davies at 13 I will be shocked if they receive 10 passes between them all game! Davies has his strengths that suit a certain style (Warrenball) but he is a godawful distributor.

    I am very sad for BOD. Captaining the Lions to a series win, 8 years on from Christchurch, would have been the perfect way to end an amazing career

  23. Lost interest when Gatland was appointed coach. This is a talented bunch of players, Gatland is wasting this talent by insisting on awful tactics. The choice of Hibbard over Youngs, Lydiate over SoB, SoB ahead of Tipuric and the silky passers of No-arms Tuilagi and step-off-my-right-but-cannot-pass Davies over BoD says it all really. I would prefer the Lions to win, but shant get too upset if the convicts win the series.

  24. Gareth

     /  July 4, 2013

    Why do the French beat New Zealand? cos they mix up their game. Being predictable and having same players in every position is for rugby league. That’s what gatland should coach. It’s too obvious what he is going to do. They can win but it will be an ugly win. And. Gatland will always be a horrible greedy ignorant pig of a man.

  25. terminan

     /  July 4, 2013

    Thought that Gerry had maybe nailed it this morning when he said that we Irish would inevitably be less emotionally invested in the series after Drico-gate – this seemed to tell most of the truth of the situation (for me at the time anyway). And yet, and yet….Liiiioons, Liiiiions….there is something about them, about that red shirt that is unique to our sport, the soul of rugby.Four into one, leaving tribalism for a higher calling, of all people we Irish should resonate with that. It is the same, what shall we say – yes, beauty is the only word – that allowed for an Ireland national team which even a civil war couldn’t destroy. The beauty that had me roaring with euphoria as a English(?), no a Lions winger skinned the great(est?) All Black Kirwan on the outside in 1993 – a player previously the bane of my life – Rory Underwood (Rory Underwood!). More beauty? – the beauty of tragedy, of gallant but glorious failure. Frankly I’d prefer that (2001, 2009) over boring victory. Let them play to bring the shades of ’74 to life for one more flickering, sepia-tinged moment and smile. Ulster, Ireland and..? Liiions, yes, come on the LIONS – EVERY 4 YEARS.

    The spor

  26. Really getting bored of this Lions series now. The style of rugby that they play is boring and lacks ambition. If this is the best that the northern hemisphere has to offer we are properly fecked. What Gatland did to BOD aswell was highly disrespectful and how Davies stays on the team is ridicolous. I feel no attachment to the Lions at all and cant wait to see what Schmidt will do with the national team come November. We might even get some proper free flowing and skillful rugby.

  27. Rich

     /  July 5, 2013

    SOB is already on a hiding to nothing – G Smith is back in and will win the breakdown – I can see Gatland – “Warburton was such a loss and George Smith is a worldclass player” – No Welsh player will take any responsibility if we lose and that is a fact. Gameplan was not the issue

    Realistically – without injury – Warbs would start, Gethin Jenkins would start and Priestland would probs start also. Leaving a space for a lock and a wing. Incredible selection.

    I ll go to Sydney test – ANZ putting on a 75 metre bar outside the stadium at 10am so a long day on the drink – no doubt atmosphere will be awesome, but after that – done with the lions. Gatland and his yes men have ruined the tour – Andy Irvine pulls North up for finger wave at genia but sits on his hand when welsh team selected and no BOD. Dated tour, dated managers, awful coaches – Lions has had its day in current format.

  28. Megweya

     /  July 5, 2013

    If the Lions manage to win after Gatland’s Gaffe, imagine if the post-match interview with the Man of the Match is with Bowe, O’Brien or even better a typically pithy & forthright Sexton.
    Think of what they might say while still awash with adrenaline and free at the end of the tour to speak their mind and not cowed as 10 players will be by wanting to be picked next season by Gaffe-land.
    “I’m played my best not just for me & the team but for Drico – it was a disgrace to drop a truly great Lion and to deny our team his leadership”
    Live to a full stadium & millions of viewers – what a great way to do unto Gaffe-land as he has done unto others.

  29. Never realised that the Irish hate the Welsh so much.

    • osheaf01

       /  July 5, 2013

      Log into Gwlad sometime, especially around the time of an Ireland v Wales match, and you’ll realise it’s heartily reciprocated!

    • Cian

       /  July 5, 2013

      It’s a bit disingenuous to say that the Irish reaction to BOD being dropped imply a hatred of the Welsh. You could call it excessive love of our star player, you could call it jealousy of another home nation that is outperforming us on the international stage, a lack of understanding of how rugby works, a hatred of Warren Gatland (and come on, he’s not easy to like), or probably a number of other things. But if you think the national outrage is because of a hatred of Jon Davies (and his compatriots) rather than a love of O’Driscoll, then I’d like to have some of what you’re smoking.

  30. I don’t know, there seems to be some genuine love for some English players in Lions jerseys (they fielded 11 of them in a losing team in 93), a game based on dominating at set-piece and kicking penalties (as in 97) and real hatred for the most successful international coach in the northern hemisphere. I’m sure there’s plenty of rubbish spouted on Gwlad but at least that’s when the two nations are playing each other rather than together. As I said in an earlier reply, I couldn’t care less about the Lions but this throwing the toys out of the pram is a bit embarrassing. And I haven’t even got to the “sheepshagger” comment yet.

  31. El Greco

     /  July 5, 2013

    My tuppence for what it’s worth is that Gatland got the arse with everyone expecting O’Driscoll (he probably even thought so himself) to be the captain and in a pique of self-assertiveness decided to drop him entirely. I think this is smoke and mirrors to deflect from the fact he dropped Croft having sworn that he was the best player going. Or picking Le Gros Phillips. Or picking a captain he has overlooked for nearly 6 years as a welsh coach. Or dropping Vunipola. Or not picking Turpuric. He consistently hasn’t picked his best team.
    “Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

    In an betting strategy known as an “emotional hedge” I threw a cheeky fiver on the shackle-draggers to win the series 2-1. Advance Oztrayla Feh!!

  32. El Greco

     /  July 5, 2013

    *Oztraylya above. Sorry.

  33. Yeah, Gatland, what does he know? Hope you’re all as embarrassed as you should be.

  34. LeinsterLion: “Halfpenny is just a boot” (only made the 2 tries today); “Murray shouldn’t even have been on the tour, never mind in the squad” (gorgeous pass to put Roberts through the gap). I think “embarrassment” is LeinsterLion’s middle name…

    • Saul Evans

       /  July 6, 2013

      For the 13% of you supporting the Lions today – wey hey!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Cian

         /  July 6, 2013

        That’s what I like to see – a comment from the vindicated Welshmen sharing their enjoyment of the victory with those of similar mind! Great performance today, and this is the type of attitude that might re-unite the four nations.

        • I’m afraid it’s too late for me Cian – I’m bowing out of this blog. The 87%have kicked and screamed their way through this series starting with extended whinging over tour captain, then Rory Best, then SOB gate, then BOD gate and deciding they’d rather their own team lose if it had too many Welsh players in it.

          They’ve blamed everything on Wales and the lions coaching team and now can’t show the nuts to acknowledge a stunning victory, the highest ever Lions test score, let alone thank Gatland for finally delivering BOD and POC the final piece of their true legend puzzle.

          Some people you can’t reason with.

          • Cian

             /  July 7, 2013

            That’s a shame, and fair enough, except that I wouldn’t assume that WoC won’t have the nuts to acknowledge Gatland’s triumph – based on past experience they’re usually ready to bite the bullet and face up to their errors. I certainly didn’t see a victory like that coming based on the first two test performances, it really was a tremendous achievement.

        • Except to say – well done Conor Murray – came of age on this tour.

    • Leinsterlion

       /  July 7, 2013

      *Gasp*, judging a player on prior performances, what a moron I am! Relying on evidence and form. I wish I had your Nostradamus-esque ability to ignore evidence, form, logic and reality, due to your ability to see players and a team in the third test performing at levels contrary to all form preceding it.
      Petty spats and differences of opinion aside, I delighted the Lions won, a truly spectacular performance in parts. The Lions live on, bring on 2017!!!!

  35. osheaf01

     /  July 8, 2013

    I think, LeinsterLion, that any fair-minded and perceptive observer – in other words, not including you, with your bigoted blue-tinted specs – would acknowledge that both Halfpenny and Murray have been playing extremely well, both on the Lions tour and in the last 6 months. The fact that Halfpenny played exceptionally well in positioning, goalkicking and linebreaking, and that Murray was a vast improvement on Phillips when he came on, was no surprise to me – going on evidence and form.

    But go on, amuse me: whom do you think is the superior player, Heaslip or Faletau?

    • Leinsterlion

       /  July 8, 2013

      Murray and Halpenny have not been “playing extremely well” for the past 6 months, the most exciting attacking 15’s qualified for the lions were Hogg and Lee Byrne, Halfpenny has been solid(7 out of 10) but displayed nothing spectacular until the third test. Halfpenny is first choice for Wales by dint of his kicking, Byrnes form in France and Europe is eons above the Girve-esque solidity Halfpenny has displayed his entire career, up until test three.
      Murray was shocking in the 6 nations, slow to the breakdown, aimless kicking away of possession, ropy passes. Granted he has played well in part against wales, the ARG game and in his cameos in the Lions tests, but he has a long way to go to be declared the second coming of Byron Kellaher. He looks good playing a pressure based limited gameplan(like against Quins), where he is instructed to kick away possession, anytime he is asked to do anything more he hasnt done it for the most part.

      As for Heaslip v Faletau, I’ll point you towards Heaslips form when playing in a competent gameplan for Leinster, he goes from Carthorse to thoroughbred. Faletau did nothing to suggest he should have started the prior two tests over Heaslip.

  36. osheaf01

     /  July 9, 2013

    Halfpenny’s a lot better than 7/10, I’m afraid – his defensive positioning, catching, reading of the game are top class. Hogg and Byrne are very effective attackers, but full back is about more than than Blanco-esque counterattacking or entering the line. Place kicking is a critical aspect of the game; a perceived deficiency at it kept Sexton off the Ireland team for about 18 months longer than he ought to have been (it might surprise you, but this Munster fan desperately wanted him to start the WC QF, not ROG). Have you forgotten the 2006 HEC semi so quickly, when Contepomi’s inability to hit a barn-door with his placekicks made his all-round abilities moot?
    I’m also disappointed that you haven’t mentioned Rob Kearney as Halfpenny’s replacement, though I suspect you’d like to.
    Murray reminds me of Cian Healy about 4 years ago; an excellent all-round prodigy who got slated for being second-rate at his primary duty (in Healy’s case scrummage, in Murray’s case passing). Ireland and Leinster were right to persevere with Healy, and they’ll be right to persevere with Murray. It’s not as if he’s up against Fourie du Preez for the jersey; Reddan and Boss are no great shakes. Ireland should understudy Paul Marshall, as a scrummie who’ll offer a contrast (quick, nimble, a superb pass).
    Heaslip is merely another in a series of Irish backrowers (Jennings, Leamy, Quinlan) who’ve looked great at HEC level, but are found somewhat lacking at Test level. He’s nowhere near as good as David Wallace was, at his peak and, far from being Ireland’s captain, wouldn’t even get on my ideal Irish backrow (Ferris 6, Henry 7, O’Brien 8). Faletau is the polar opposite; he plays for the worst team outside Italy in the Rabo, yet looks extremely comfortable at Test level with proper players playing, as you put it, a competent gameplan. He’s also a relative baby at 22, and could mature into an awesome 8. Heaslip, on the other hand, has flattered to deceive for Ireland when, at 29, he should be at his peak. I would contend that Faletau for Heaslip was one of the 2 key changes that made the difference last Saturday (Corbisiero being the other).

    • Leinsterlion

       /  July 9, 2013

      There is truth in all you’ve said, I agree about persevering with Murray, he was elevated to soon imo, but whats done is done, its his jersey to lose at this stage. He was given the jersey way way way too soon. He has been largely substandard in every Ireland appearance.
      As for Kearney for Halfpenny, (un)surprisingly no, hes over a year removed from his best form and has been the second best full back for 90% of his Leinster career first to Girv and then Nacewa. He was poor(by international standards) for the majority of last season, I don’t think he should have toured based on his form. Lee Byrne and Foden and Hogg in third are the best Lions qualified FB’s imo.
      AS for Heaslip, look at him playing for Leinster is all i’ll say, based on club form(whiich is what you should be picked off). For example Andy Powell was playing better stuff for Sale then Faletau was for NGD, Faletau isnt even the best Welsh 8. Faletau is overrated, he did nothing Heaslip couldn’t do.
      IMO Gatland ballsed up by not bringing scrummaging props, Sheridan should have toured, who cares if he missed HK. As it stands the only decision Gatty needed to make was playing Corbiseiro, all the rest were irrelevant and ego driven, perpetuating the myth of the coach/manager.

      • Leinsterlion, you’re getting to be a bit boorish here, and your opinions, though held with conviction, are narrow-minded in the extreme. There is more than one way to skin a cat, as they say, and more than one way to prove oneself a great player. Surely the great thing about rugby is the unending variety of philosophies on how to hurt the oppisition? I know you have a firm belief in how the game should be played, but wverything that deviates from that is not necessarily to be thrown in the bin.

        I feel you undervalue clutch players in particular, of which Leigh Halfpenny is one. I’m not sure he could have done any more on this Lions tour to seal his reputation as a great modern-day fullback. The boy is unflappable.

        As for Conor Murray, the lad has had a smashing season. I feel your opinion is a leftover from Tony McGahan’s last season when he wa floudering a bit. But no more.

        Finally, though doubtless you’ll retort with a straw-man building counterexample of the one Leinster player you don’t rate and the one Munster player you do, it is impossible to escape the fact that all your opinions are filtered through Leinster-worship and a dislike of all things Munster.

        • Leinsterlion

           /  July 9, 2013

          The fact of the matter is Leinster have been playing(OR TRYING TO) the best style of rugby in Ireland going on 7 years now, its inevitable my glasses will have a blue hue. If a guy is playing attacking rugby, i’ll back him to the hilt, it just so happens that most of those guys are playing for Leinster rather than Munster.
          As for my rugby philosophy, I’d say my sporting philosophy, from Ronnie O’Sullivan to Nadal to Leinster any sport I’d watch I’d lean towards an aggressive attacking player/team over a boring error reducing conservative style.
          Irish and EU rugby fans are being conned by SKY and the “occasion junkies” IMO, who think atmosphere and close scores mask deficient skill levels and dire rugby. Where the ball is constantly being kicked to “build pressure” hoping the opposition make mistakes.
          That is not rugby and its one of the reasons I watch NRL. Look at what has happened to French rugby under Laporte and his disciples like PSA, the end justify’s the means is their motto. Would you be happy if Leinster and Ireland went back down that boot ‘n bash route? FFS even Munster are trying to evolve into Leinster-lite. I’m going to continue slaughtering any team playing crap rugby, no matter the result. There is only one way to skin a cat as far as I’m concerned, I fail to see the entertainment(and that is what pro rugby is about) in stereotypical Munster or Blue Bulls rugby. Its boring to watch and I certainly wouldnt play that way myself.

          Conor Murray smashing season? Re-watch Munsters pool stages and the 6nations and tell me he had a smashing season, particularly Racing Metro(first one) and the English and French games. He ended the season as a dependable/promising scrum half, in vast contrast to the erratic player he started it as, sure, but some perspective is needed. Hes far from world class.

          As for Halfpenny, you are judging him on on the final game, he kicks brilliantly, yeah great, but his performance in the final test is mirrored every week by most S15 FBs in NZ and by Dagg nearly every game. Re-watch the first two tests and factor them into your judgement of him. He’s utterly solid and a brilliant kicker, but he is not the complete package, he is yet to consistently run lines the like of Nacewa and Byrne run in their sleep.
          Call it a strawman or whatever, but when I start clamouring for second rate Leinster players in the Ireland set up you can accuse me of being biased, saying Heaslip is world class on the back of his Leinster form is hardly bias, as he is, I think players deserve to be picked on club form, if they aren’t we end up with a squad of EOS undroppables.

          • Cian

             /  July 9, 2013

            There’s a very interesting sentiment in there that I don’t think you’ve expressed directly before: “the entertainment(and that is what pro rugby is about)”. That is a perfectly legitimate opinion, but one that I suspect a lot of people would have a major problem with, including me. Pro sports can be about winning or they can be about entertainment, they can’t be about both. They can’t even, to any meaningful extent, be about winning first and entertainment second – if a coach and a team are, as (I think) they should be, doing absolutely everything possible to win then they should not for one second consider compromising the tiniest part of their would-be winning formula in order to accommodate entertainment, or stylishness, or an attempt to make sure all their scorelines are divisible by 4, or absolutely anything else.

            I think you’re the first sports fan I’ve come across that thinks entertainment value is more important than winning; I suspect you’d have some more company in the USA than in Europe. This is not to be confused with teams choosing to play in a fashion lacking in entertainment value when a more flamboyant style might be as or more effective. That’s an entirely different issue, and I think is a problem that a lot of people had with Warrenball.

            My own take on things is that, for any sport I’m really into, style hardly matters a damn. If skill levels, intensity, fitness, and tactical astuteness are high then the rest is optional.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  July 9, 2013

            Just so we are clear about what I mean by entertaining, its not a 6 try apiece 7’s-rugby-esque structure-less mess. Its highly skilled intense rugby with clever angles, offloading, tough defence and accomplished, setpiece and both teams throwing the kitchen sink in attack and defence esssentially what Leinster played and what the Blues won two S12 titles playing with Spencer at 10.
            I dont think however Toulons tactics or Munsters former tactics justify the means, I’d rather my team tried to play rugby instead of playing fear induced negative rugby all for the sake of a W in the column.

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