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The Lions 2013

Discussion in 'Other Sports Forum' started by Rosco, Apr 30, 2013.

  1. Rosco

    Rosco Worse than Brendan Member

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    It just shows the potential the Welsh team has doesn't it ?

    If you had a top class out half and a real 7 you'd win the World Cup.
     
  2. LarryHagman

    LarryHagman Well-Known Member

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    Well done to the Lions. Glad the Aussies didn't win as I'd have to listen to bleating in work for 6 months about how great they are when, really, they're decidedly mediocre.
    The talk here during the week was that Deans was getting sacked win, lose or draw. Hopefully, that will happen soon. Had he picked the right team, they still could have won this. They have been fairly unlucky with injuries in this series, so have the Lions, but the Aussies have nothing like the same pool to pick from. Ewen McKenzie will get the job now and they'll improve straight away.
    All in all, a decent test series, enjoyed it. And the better team won.
     
  3. Jürgen4PM

    Jürgen4PM Well-Known Member

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    Lions 2013: players and coaches will never forget this moment, says Lions legend Sir Ian McGeechan

    Absolutely magnificent. What a tremendous occasion. And what an incredible performance from the British and Irish Lions. Not only did they win this final, deciding Test in Sydney, but they won it with style. It really was a privilege to be here to witness it.

    [​IMG]
    Happy memories: the 2013 Lions celebrate winning the final test against Australia Photo: GETTY IMAGES

    [​IMG]
    By Sir Ian McGeechan
    6:33PM BST 06 Jul 2013
    [​IMG]28 Comments

    It was a performance that I think will have much wider implications. For a start I think it will mean that the Lions have huge respect and credibility around the rugby world. We got so close four years ago in South Africa, losing the series 2-1 having played some great rugby, but in the end it is the winning that is so important.
    That is what this group of British and Irish Lions has done, and it means that the Lions are in a very strong position going forward. We have got some problems to sort out in our backyard before the tour of New Zealand in four years’ time, but this win will now strengthen the Lions concept massively.
    I don’t like using the word ‘brand’, as many people do about the Lions. I would rather describe it as just a fantastic rugby journey that you go on with the Lions – whether you are a player, a coach or a member of the public. And this journey was one of the best.
    Even Australia, while naturally disappointed at the series loss, are over the moon about the success of the tour, in terms of what it has brought to rugby union over here. It has revitalised the game in the country.
    What we have now got to do in terms of the Lions is get ourselves in the best possible condition for what is going to be a huge challenge in going to New Zealand. The responsibility for that lies with the four home countries and their administrators, as well as those in New Zealand.

    As for the game itself, the Lions had to win it twice really. They were 19-3 up after 25 minutes and it seemed as if it was all over. The forwards were superb, especially the scrummaging, and they set the platform to ensure that after an excellent early score from Alex Corbisiero, the Wallabies were really on the back foot and Leigh Halfpenny’s boot made no mistake in getting us to that 19-3 lead.
    But the Australians never lack for tenacity in those situations and they managed to pull it back to 19‑16. In fact, they came back so strongly that you were left thinking: ‘Crikey, have we lost all the momentum here?’
    But it was then that the Lions’ backs really stepped up. That 20‑minute period when the score went from 19‑16 to 34‑16 was a spell when the Lions played some quite superb rugby. We won the game because we got hold of it in that time. And we played some attractive, flowing rugby. That reflects very well on us in the eyes of the southern hemisphere.
    And what about Warren Gatland’s selections? Everyone was questioning whether Brian O’Driscoll should have played, including me. But Warren knows the players and, as I said before the game, that’s the thing about selection as Lions head coach – everything you do is about making Lions decisions to win a Test series. That is what Warren did and you cannot be any more vindicated than he was here. And it was not just because of the win, but because of the quality of it, too.
    I thought Alun Wyn Jones led superbly by example. And I also thought Sean O’Brien, for an hour, was quite incredible. The back row as a unit really worked well together, with O’Brien and Toby Faletau carrying so effectively. So it meant that we got on the front foot at the scrum and line out, ensuring that those guys carrying the ball really could then make some big inroads. It also meant we could dictate the tempo and force Australia to concede ground, something we had not been able to do consistently in the first two Tests.
    When we did get hold of the ball our backs actually looked a far better division than Australia’s. The tries scored were of a very high quality. To do that in Australia, where their back play is always seen as being such a strength, is a fantastic statement for the players and coaches to make. It was not all about brute strength.
    How will Warren feel now? It will take a while to sink in, I think. You enjoy the night and the moment. But I think there will be a greater feeling of relief than anything; relief that they have completed the job.
    I think Gats and the other coaches have done a fantastic job on this tour. And we should not forget the support staff. That is important. Lions tours are not just about the Test teams. Lions environments are reflected by the midweek teams and the dedication of the support staff. That has been hugely demonstrated on this trip.
    In a week’s time it will sink in. In a month’s time people will still be talking about it, and you might go to other countries or get emails from other countries, and it will be then that it starts to hit you how big an impact you have had over four countries. It is nice to think that you go to these places later and you get a genuine welcome to be there. That’s what winning with the Lions does.
    I will leave Australia with the memories of what it meant here. I will think of James Horwill in tears after they had won the second Test. It just shows the strength of the Lions. I know I am biased but it is that special rarity value.
    We are not back in Australia for another 12 years. But hopefully we have made an impression that will last that time. We have now got a real opportunity to have a competitive series against New Zealand but, as I said, that is a responsibility that everyone must share.
     
  4. Jürgen4PM

    Jürgen4PM Well-Known Member

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    Lions 2013: Warren Gatland and his team have proved more than worthy of their place in rugby history

    All hail the history makers then. Not only have the British and Irish Lions won their Test series in Australia, but they have done so with one of the great Lions performances.

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    Giant among men: Warren Gatland has sealed his place in coaching history Photo: PA

    [​IMG]
    By Steve James
    7:54PM BST 06 Jul 2013
    [​IMG]14 Comments

    To think that there were many still questioning the very concept of the British and Irish Lions right up until the first whistle in Sydney yesterday. Sadly, they were mostly the same fools drowning in the parochial myopia that coach Warren Gatland had botched his selection by favouring too many Welshmen.
    Well, the Lions are alive and well, and so too is Gatland. His reputation is not just enhanced, it is sublime. He dropped an icon in Brian O’Driscoll, but in doing so he was just trying to discover an iconic team. He rather did that.
    That the fuss over O’Driscoll descended into rabid anti-Welsh rhetoric was unseemly and nonsensical. Gatland does not do bias. He is one of modern-day rugby’s most perspicacious selectors. Take just this one example that was so important today. No one else had even thought of converting Jamie Roberts from a fullback/wing to an inside centre when Gatland threw Roberts into that position against South Africa in Pretoria in 2008. He knew then what he wanted from his centres. He knew today, too.
    But please now can we now expunge from the Lions lexicon the word ‘anachronism’ that annoyingly appears before every tour. It is grossly unfair that, seemingly, the Lions have to fight for their very existence in every match. Yes, matters such as domestic scheduling need to be reconsidered in order to give the squad the best possible preparation period but, in this hour of triumph, even they seem piffling.
    In that respect, the remarkable travelling support has told its own tale of relevance, but, while the last (losing) tourists to South Africa in 2009 restored on-field credibility after the calamity of the 2005 New Zealand whitewash, this group of 2013 have now without quibble firmly established the brand in the professional era. The Lions work, and they will work.  


    That said, the arduousness of his task should never be underestimated. The fiendishly difficult process of melding players from four nations and playing away from home against high-quality opposition makes it the toughest of propositions.

    As Martin Johnson, the captain of the 1997 Lions, has said: “There is no other team like it.” But that also means that there is no other challenge like it. Gatland and his team rose to that challenge.
    With huge courage, he stuck to his principles and methods. Those carping about his style of play were forgetting that everyone knew what was to come when he was selected as head coach. He has been successful with Wasps, Waikato and Wales thanks to his adherence to the tenets of set-piece dominance, gain-line physicality and a kicking game that is both powerful and shrewd. When executed with accuracy it is mighty hard to stop, and, as happened today, once the superiority has been claimed, it can lead to some thrilling back play later. The right to go wide earned, and all that.
    Plans were not always executed with accuracy in the first two Tests. That is why Gatland made changes for this one. He selected players whom he considered more capable of effecting his ideals. Vindication was served red-clad and steaming.
    This is the first series victory since South Africa were conquered by Johnson’s team in 1997, and only the third series win in 10 previous tours. That tells you everything about this momentous achievement. Of course, it will be mentioned that Australia is the easiest tour. And it is – the Lions have only actually lost one series there, in 2001 – but that does not make it easy.
    Rugby immortality now awaits this group. As Wales centre Scott Gibbs said after 1997: “To have the term, Lions series winner, can help define your career and change your life. It is something to be proud of when you join an elite group of people who have managed to do that.”
    Indeed it is. This class will discover that, and rightly so. The captains, Sam Warburton and Alun Wyn Jones, join an illustrious roll call fellow Welshman John Dawes – skipper of the 1971 win in New Zealand (when the four-Test series was won 2-1, with the last match drawn), Willie-John McBride – leader of the 1974 success in South Africa (a 3-0 win with, again, the last Test drawn), Scottish flanker Finlay Calder (who captained in 1989), and Johnson himself.
    The celebrations will be raucous and lengthy. When the Lions won the series in Durban in 1997, Neil Back, Tom Smith and a few others were not content with the extensive revelries afterwards. Returning to their seafront hotel, they took their duvets and a few crates of beer down to the beach. Unsurprisingly when they awoke the next morning, there were no duvets and no beer. But there was a Lions series win to savour. As, joyously, there is again.
    The men who made the Lions roar
    Adam Jones
    The scrummage remains a mystery to many, but not to Jones, whose mastery of the art saw off England for Wales in the Six Nations and now Australia for the Lions.
    Alex Corbisiero
    It might have been done in Melbourne had he been there. Mako Vunipola was not as bad as some said, but he was not as punishing as Corbisiero was here.
    Leigh Halfpenny
    Apparently he could do everything except counter attack. Well, it looked like a counter attack for George North’s try today. Player of the series by miles.
    Alun Wyn Jones
    The hothead has matured. Led from the front in Sydney’s ANZ Stadium today with a display of raging intensity, as well as some delightful offloads.
    Sam Warburton
    It was still his tour and, had the inspirational flanker lasted 10 more minutes after a monumental display in Melbourne, it might have been over then.
     
  5. Jürgen4PM

    Jürgen4PM Well-Known Member

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    Warren Gatland is a top coach and a winner – he is geared for success

    The Lions' main man got the big decisions right in Australia and has few peers among coaches in the professional era
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    Leigh Halfpenny, centre, Jonathan Davies, left, and Jamie Roberts celebrate the Lions 2-1 series win in Australia.Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images
    What a weekend for rugby in the four home unions. Australia thought they could run through the Lions' defence and found that the fluffier side of Super 15 rugby was no match the set-piece prowess of the Heineken Cup.
    It was good to see a big game decided by the scrum and full credit to Romain Poite for allowing the Lions to exploit their superiority. There were no tit-for-tat penalties: he judged each scrum on its merits, insisting that the props stay straight and the Wallabies buckled under the pressure.
    The Lions made the perfect start and quickly built up a big lead but that was no reason for Australia not to kick penalties, especially with Christian Leali'ifano in their side. It showed an arrogance and a disdain for the Lions' defence.
    The tactics were crazy. They left 12 points on the field and although they scored a try at the end of the first half, they never looked like adding to it. I have noticed in the past that Australian teams can be disrespectful of European opponents, regarding their approach to the game as somewhat superior because they like to run the ball from everywhere but big matches are about tactics, not ideals.
    Australia have come up too short too often tactically on the big occasion, such as the 2011 World Cup semi-final against New Zealand when they again conceded an early lead. I know they are in a country where other football codes enjoy greater popularity but there is nothing to be had in entertainment for entertainment's sake.
    I could not see how Australia were going to win on Saturday and the victory is a huge boost for our game before the 2015 World Cup. The English and Welsh boys in the Lions' squad realise that the Wallabies are beatable and that group promises to be really special.
    I knew that Warren Gatland would play a central role last week and you could see him take charge of the warm-up. He is someone who thrives on the big occasion, and all the calls he made in selection were bang on.
    Jonathan Davies was outstanding in the centre, offering a different option with his left-footed kicking. People forget that he and Jamie Roberts have played together more than any other centre combination in Wales's history. He is an experienced player.
    Alex Corbisiero made the difference I expected in the scrum and he was exceptional in the loose. Toby Faletau had to bide his time on this tour but what an impact he made and he came up with the defining play of the match.
    Australia had fought back from 19-3 down to trail by six points. They were attacking in the Lions' 22 and had options either side. In steps Toby, snaffles the ball, Jonathan Sexton chips downfield for George North and Jonathan Davies to take play into their 22. Two minutes later, Leigh Halfpenny sends in Sexton and it is game over.
    The Lions earned their right to play because they had such a firm grasp of the basics. It might have been different had Chris Pollock, the referee in the first Test, been in charge because he was not as hard on illegal scrummaging as Poite but the bottom line is that rugby union is about far more than just chucking the ball around.
    Gats has added to his long list of successes and he is without doubt one of the top coaches of the professional era. I was part of the coaching team with him in South Africa four years ago and the first objective then was to restore pride after what had happened in New Zealand in 2005.
    We ended up gallant losers then and I know that Gats measured the success of this tour in the way the series went. The Lions won two Tests, job done, and everyone involved can enjoy a well-deserved holiday.
    I am looking forward to working with Warren again next season. He is committed to taking Wales to the next World Cup, after which he will make up his mind about the future. I see he has suggested he may consider retiring but I am not sure.
    It is difficult for him with his family in New Zealand but there will be no shortage of demand for his services. A lot was said last week about him that was way over the mark because he had dropped a great player in Brian O'Driscoll. What was overlooked is that Gats is a winner. Everything he does is geared to success. His track record should have made his critics stop and think and now he has added another trophy to his long list. Brilliant
     
  6. Jürgen4PM

    Jürgen4PM Well-Known Member

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    How Warren Gatland turned a Lions travesty into a triumph

    Only a victory could save the Lions coach from opprobrium after the O'Driscoll furore – and his changes delivered spectacularly
    [​IMG]
    Warren Gatland, the exultant Lions coach, heads down the tunnel after his team's series-clinching victory against the Wallabies. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty
    The absolute certainty that this would go down to the last kick was shattered even before the third quarter was finished. Perhaps it was the involvement of Jonathan Davies in the build-up to the try by Jonathan Sexton that brought the whole series to its head before the appointed 80th minute. Never before had a touring tenet – that once the Lions are under way nationality gives way to the common cause – been so sorely tested as it was with the dropping of Brian O'Driscoll.
    Warren Gatland, the Lions coach and final selector, had made his choice, selecting one of his current Welshmen, Davies, ahead of O'Driscoll, and most of the Ireland that Gatland left in acrimonious circumstances in 2001 seemed ready to bring him to book for the heresy. There was more pre-match pressure on the New Zealander, since most of the pundits, who put memories ahead of form, agreed with the slighted Irish that this was a travesty.
    Only a victory could possibly save the coach. And since Australia had the momentum going into this decider, Gatland, the old hooker, had most certainly shot himself in the foot, a singularly stupid thing to do because he was already hobbling around on a pair of broken heels, courtesy of falling off a ladder. Now he was about to fall off a cliff.
    And the drop was going to be even more painful because this was a double-dip decider. Australia had closed a remarkable 19-3 deficit, thanks to a Lions supremacy at the scrummage that had nothing to do with any centres of any nationality, to three points, and the momentum was with them again. In six minutes they had turned the game on its head, James O'Connor, the non-fly-half proving he might yet be one, with a try on the stroke of half-time, and Christian Leali'ifano, as accurate as Leigh Halfpenny, kicking his last pair of penalties at the start of the second period.
    The Lions coach rang his changes. Off went Adam Jones, he of the scrummage. Off went Mike Phillips, slow of pass but the very symbol of the Lions' confrontational attitude. The die was cast. And through went the Lions, after a ruck set up by Dan Lydiate, the move blossoming in the hands of Davies and finished by Leigh Halfpenny and Sexton. The original selections and now the replacements had been made and everything had turned out sweetly. Davies had delivered and Gatland had triumphed.
    The last quarter served now only to tie up the loose ends, not bring the series to its rousing conclusion. Will Genia, who had outplayed Phillips in the first Test, and who had seen his opposite number give way to the admirable Conor Murray in this third one, went from being the most dangerous player on the field to a scrum-half departing with head bowed. It was his kick that allowed Halfpenny to launch a counterattack, and it was his missed tackle that allowed the full-back to turn a half-break into a whole one and release George North. When Jamie Roberts surged through for the final try it was Genia who again missed with the tackle.

    Delivery for that fourth and final try came from Toby Faletau, here a starter for the first time. If there was a decision in selection that had more impact than the removal of the once truly majestic O'Driscoll, now unable at 34 to rediscover his days of yore, it was the replacement of Jamie Heaslip with Faletau.
    The No8 gave a colossal performance, strong on the ball, secure at the lineout and destructive in the tackle. He says very little but delivers a great deal. He is not flash but offers himself selflessly for the team. His inclusion was all-important. And since Heaslip had done nothing wrong, it was possibly the more contentious of the decisions to replace another Irishman with another Welshman.
    That mention of the nationalities, of course, threatens to expose once again the sanctity of the togetherness. It may therefore be worth restoring the balance by mentioning a few more. Of such contradictions are Lions tours made. Alex Corbisiero had a devastatingly positive impact on the tour, arriving as a replacement for two front-rows that had been chosen ahead of him, Cian Healy and Gethin Jenkins. Corbisiero fitted seamlessly into the system (called Warrenball) that demanded superiority up front. When the loosehead played, the Lions dominated. It can be a game of unencumbered simplicity for a prop.
    There was also the intervention by Geoff Parling, a tap-tackle that brought down Jesse Mogg. Parling was not a first-choice selection, either, but played a full part in making this showdown a glorious anticlimax. Even Scotland, from whom was wrung in the pre-match O'Driscoll furore a regret that not more of their number had been called on to play a part, had an input with the arrival in the closing minutes of Richie Gray.
    Everybody deserved a mention. The Welsh, providing 10 of the starting XV, merit perhaps a particular mention, especially in the light of their travails against these same Wallabies in the past 18 months. On the other hand, perhaps none of them should be singled out, no player from any one country.
    To win the Lions had to play together as never before. And in that regard the tenet of submission to the common good was respected, from start to finish, by one and all.
     
  7. Judge Jules

    Judge Jules SCM Addict Member

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    Excellent article which shows what a big man Shaun Edwards is after Gatland surprised everybody by not picking him in the coaching team.

    BTW yesterday the radio carried interviews with Aussie fans leaving the stadium and one was griping about having had to play against 16 because of the way Poite refereed the game. And they call *us* "whinging Poms".
     
  8. Jürgen4PM

    Jürgen4PM Well-Known Member

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    It seems that the tour has been a huge success for the Lions and rugby in general. Record viewing figures and record crowds (194000 for the 3 tests) and Lions rubgy being back in a healthy position. There is also strong talk of the Kiwis, Aussies and South Africans joining forces and touring Europe in the same fashion that we do.
     
  9. Comical Aly

    Comical Aly Well-Known Member

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    What's the opposite of an expert? A chump?

    Love from a Taff.
     
  10. Jürgen4PM

    Jürgen4PM Well-Known Member

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    Lions 2013: Abuse over the decison to drop Brian O'Driscoll for the third Test was a disgrace

    The British and Irish ‘Ieuans’ comprehensive hammering of Australia to win the Test series justified Warren Gatland’s selection of 10 Welsh players in the starting XV, achieved in a manner described by some as Plan A while other were unsure what Plan A was.

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    Oon sidelines: Brian O'Driscoll was left out of Lions side Photo: GETTY IMAGES

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    By Brian Moore
    6:45AM BST 08 Jul 2013
    [​IMG]230 Comments

    In reading this post-event analysis, you may detect a bias, an error in evaluation of the quality of a decision when its outcome is already known. If so, it is unavoidable because Gatland’s choice of his starting squad could not be soundly measured without reference to the result because sport only has three outcomes and is judged acordingly.
    Whatever was claimed to the contrary, the dropping of Brian O’Driscoll for Jamie Roberts, the favouring of Alex Corbisiero and Mako Vunipola in front of Ryan Grant and the replacement of Tom Croft with Dan Lydiate could be defended as sound, but only if they produced a win.
    The hysteria in some quarters over the O’Driscoll decision, in particular, resulted in nastiness, amplified by social media, and some of the personal abuse posted was a disgrace. The abusers showed that they were never real fans at all because the concept of the Lions is to support the side until the end, whatever occurs. The nationalist fault lines can only be negotiated by loyalty; there is time for rancour afterwards. You do not support a side only if the players you favour are picked and you certainly do not, as some did openly, perfidiously switch allegiance to the opponents. Gatland’s were sporting decisions, not intended as national insults.
    As the game unfolded, Gatland’s faith was repaid by the Welsh players and significantly augmented by the non‑Welsh players in the starting line-up and the substitutes. Chief among these was Corbisiero, whose demolition of Ben Alexander paved the way for the dominance over the Australia pack and of the game itself. His playing of the scrum wheel of fortune meant that referee Roman Poite was able to ignore all the other illegalities and choose the worst which, sadly for the Aussies, always lay with the hapless Alexander.
    It should not be thus, but it was and Corbisiero can claim to have made a seminal contribution to the series win. The opprobrium for Poite in the Aussie media is mere whinging that is to be expected and had the Australian union not done all it can to wreck the scrum as a proper contest, they might have props who are able to compete when it is refereed to something like the correct standard.
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    Just as the scrum set the tone for forward hegemony, the line‑out cemented it and Geoff Parling’s retention as the lineout caller was important. Not only did this supply ball, it meant that late on the Australians did not profit from their attempt to gain territory as they were unable to pressure the throw. This platform allowed Sean O’Brien to vent his idiosyncratic fury in attack and defence where he resembled a human wrecking ball.
    Perhaps the most voiced fear of pre‑match critics was the potential lack of leadership in the team and here Alun Wynn Jones and his decision makers, especially Jonathan Sexton, proved their mettle. The potentially disastrous wobble either side of half‑time saw the Lions ship 13 points and closely resembled the second Test in 2001 which effectively cost the Lions that series. That the Lions steadied themselves and through calculated gambles from Sexton turned defence and turnover into attack, lifted the tourists to another plane from which the view to the finishing line was clear.
    Behind all this, for most of the time, was the remarkable Leigh Halfpenny. A throwback to the days of regular‑sized backs, his regular deposits into the Lions account totalled something astonishing. His coup de grâce was an intricate run to set up George North’s try and thus he just edged out A W   Jones for player of the tour.
    It is true that the Aussies missed several players who would have started the series but none of this is the fault of the Lions and the emphatic dispatch of a more settled team was so comprehensive they could do no more.
    There are some people claiming they knew it would turn out like this but not only are they guilty of creeping determinism; they are also telling porkies. This triumph by Gatland, his management team and captain Sam Warburton was achieved without a hint of excess and Warburton has borne his frustration with dignity. It is an admonishment to those, including me, who expressed sincere doubt. To the abusive, some of whom should have known better, it is a two-fingered riposte and fully deserved.
     
  11. Jürgen4PM

    Jürgen4PM Well-Known Member

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    Lions 2013: Learning the lessons from a special tour

    The Lions tour to Australia of 2013 provided many memorable moments and friendships that will last a lifetime.

    [​IMG]
    Last-minute Lion: Alex Corbisiero joined the long list of players not originally selected who became a star of the tour Photo: EPA

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    By Will Greenwood
    6:00AM BST 08 Jul 2013
    [​IMG]14 Comments

    1 Winning does not always make you feel better
    Warren Gatland made a huge call when he dropped Brian O’Driscoll, and he was slated in many quarters for it. But even when he was proved right, you could see how tough it was for him to do. Up close after the game, Gatland talked about the difficulty of cutting BOD, of not wanting the victory to be a vindication. High-stakes selection is about performance not emotion, but even the consistently stoic Gatland has moments where it affects him.
    2 Alun-Wyn Jones is my new hero
    For how he conducted himself on and off the field. Everything about him on tour has been special. He channelled direct, driven energy. When he led that team on Saturday night and when you look back at the video, I suspect there will be very few frames without him in it.
    3 Wallaby unsung hero was Ben Mowen
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    In the thick of it, whether winning or losing, he was a consistent threat.
    4 Certain positions matter and need specialists
    In a modern rugby world, where people are trying to get everyone to do a little bit of everything, you need a tight head prop, fly-half or inside centre who know the position. You can get away with it for a while, but in Test match rugby you will get caught out.
    5 From zero to hero does happen on Lions tours
    Alex Corbisiero missed out on the first round of selection and now finds himself on that long list of last-minute Lions. Worth remembering that if you do not make the plane to New Zealand don’t head to the pub, and make sure you have your phone turned on. Anything can and often does happen.
    6 Comebacks do not always have a fairy-tale ending
    George Smith, out of retirement, and into a game that nearly had him carried off in the first 10 minutes.
    7 As a neurotic paranoid, I prepare for every eventuality
    I had a list of questions ready for Gatland had the Lions lost the third Test. “You made some big calls, did you get it wrong?” “As a coach why do you find Australia so hard to beat?” “Did you put too much faith in the power game and one style of play?” I have never been happier to put a piece of paper in the bin.
    8 Rugby fans are the sport’s greatest assets
    Wallabies supporters donned their gold and green and cheered as loudly as they could. They responded to the invasion of Lions red with humour, friendship and banter that made the tour special from start to finish.
    9 Mayfly memories
    Within half an hour of the third Test ending, the talk had turned to the group of death at the 2015 World Cup, where Australia have been put with England and Wales. The Lions unity had been replaced with the old rivalries that exist between the Home Nations teams. That is why the Lions tour is so special – a short moment when normal divisions are forgotten and friendships are formed that last a lifetime.
    10 Winning matters
    Roll on New Zealand. Suddenly, a trip to the Land of the Long White Cloud looks less daunting and the youth of the Lions party means many players will be hitting their prime in four years’ time. Forget the fear, the fans are smelling victory. Could be a cracker.
    11 Rugby players are becoming rock stars
    In Hong Kong, there was glamour and glitz. Asia loved the Lions and they revelled in it. Dark glasses, security entourages, and a 20-minute stage appearance that could have been the run for One Direction. Wages are going up and players are getting close to the million-a-season mark. The next time the Lions roll around do not be surprised to see them not only making music-industry money but also enjoying the lifestyle.
    12 Changing rooms are like surgery rooms
    The kit man Patrick ‘Rala’ O’Reilly and his team are geniuses at what they do, and I have never seen changing rooms quite so neat. Name plaques above seats, playing jerseys on a hanger perfectly new. Towels folded, programmes for each man, a personal set of post-match toiletries. After 60 seconds it looks like a bomb site. But that first impression, for that first minute, it gives the players a feeling of being special, of belonging to a magical club where extraordinary things happen. Small details, nothing overlooked, everything to perfection. That is the plan and the changing room is a thing of beauty.
    13 Confidence is catching
    Want to see what playing for the Lions can do to your personality and chat? Look at the two interviews I did with Stuart Hogg. In Hong Kong he was hesitant, unsure, a young man at the start of a big tour with a lot of history. After his game at Newcastle he was a different man. Buzzing, bouncing, full of vim and vigour. It will be interesting to see how the other players who did well carry it into next season. These are career-changing tours. Suddenly players are not afraid of the green and gold of Australia.
    14 Lions are logistics
    Coming back to the hotel after a game, in the dark and increasingly cold Australian nights, you see a 7.5-tonne truck parked up near the front entrance. For the backroom teams the work is just beginning. All the kit, pads, training equipment, foods, supplements, cones and strapping need to be moved to the next stop on the trip. Lions tours are like moving a small army unit around a massive country. Some things can be bought, others are carried for the whole trip. If that is not bad enough, the laundry bill must make your eyes water.
    15 The bubble is still leaky and that is great for the game
    There is a lot of control around this tour, from sponsorship experts to press officers. But there is still a chance for fans and players to mingle and interact. I am yet to see an autograph turned down or photo refused. A real effort to build bridges between the people in the stands and those on the pitch. In Newcastle, team and supporters were very close, players relaxing in the centre of the town, having coffee or a wander about. No one got too close, no one was too nutty, a perfect example of everyone getting along and making sure that all the tourists have a good time. #onlyinrugby.
    16 Lions fans love to travel and make noise
    No matter where you go, the Lions fans are here, building up in numbers and decibels. They back their countrymen yet support the team with incredible passion. However Lions tours pan out in the future, their needs have to be at the forefront of any consideration. As big a money spinner as these tours have become fans can never feel as if they are taken advantage of. As I have travelled around Australia there have been gripes from the local fans about the cost of the tickets this time round. Some have even said that they will wait until the All Blacks or Boks come back into town before they buy any more tickets. The Lions cannot afford for their long-standing and newly-converted fans to feel that they are not appreciated or are being priced out.
    17 Australian sports stars are spoilt when it comes to the facilities they have to use
    We were so impressed by the stadium in Newcastle, which is a town of 150,000 people, that we did a piece for Sky TV about it. When I mentioned it to some Australian commentators, they said that it was not even the best stadium in Newcastle. If you want to be serious about your sport, you need to be serious about where you play and train, and the Aussies have known this for a while.
    18 The Lions team are bigger than you even imagine
    I used to think you could drop an amateur player into most matches and they would be able to survive. Not today and not at this level. Out here, against these guys they would be put through the mincer.
    19 Support staff matter
    The Lions is all about what happens on and off the pitch. The medical staff are second to none. Dr James Robson has been working with the Lions on six tours. He saved my life when I was knocked unconscious in 1997, was on hand when Thom Evans broke his neck and most recently when Beau Robinson was knocked out in the Reds game he was the first man on the scene, rushing from the Lions bench to help a man down, no matter the shirt on his back. He is a saint of a man. And spare a thought for people such as the masseuse, Richard Wegrzyk. I would not say he was unhealthy looking but he very rarely sees a lot of daylight. Players are always coming to see him with knocks and bumps and on a busy tour the massage room is one of the quietest places to be, so even if they do not need a rub, it is a good spot to unwind. Overworked, people like this are the glue that holds the tour together. Hands of steel as well.
    20 Boozing is a much quieter affair
    The players still like a drink every now and then, but it’s not what it was. Alcohol is an afterthought rather than a motivating force. As it should be for professional athletes. Also makes life much easier for the security team.
     
  12. Rosco

    Rosco Worse than Brendan Member

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    It's amazing how many people have totally missed the point.

    The O'Driscoll / Davies selection wasn't what decided the game.

    It was the back row not being Warburton, Croft and Heaslip.
     
  13. Jürgen4PM

    Jürgen4PM Well-Known Member

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    If you'd of got your way we'd of seen a pack including Best, Croft and Tipuric.

    All of the changes made a difference. In fact the biggest impact on the result on Saturday was the inclusion of Corbs.
     
  14. Jürgen4PM

    Jürgen4PM Well-Known Member

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    Lions 2013: tour ratings - how the tourists performed

    Mick Cleary runs the rule over the British and Irish Lions' squad during their tour of Australia and Hong Kong.

    [​IMG]
    Lion king: full-back Leigh Halfpenny was the Lions' stand-out performer Photo: ACTION IMAGES

    [​IMG]
    By Mick Cleary
    10:00PM BST 07 Jul 2013
    [​IMG]23 Comments

    10/10
    Leigh Halfpenny (418 minutes played, 114 points) Man with the golden boot was shown to be fallible only at the end of the second Test, missing a brute of a kick. So reliable, so productive.
    Lions medical team Worked miracles.

    9/10
    George North
    (435min, 20pts) Showed the incredible range of his skills and the potency of his running with dramatic try in the first Test. A little underused but always a threat.
    Alex Corbisiero (214min, 5pts) A late arrival from England’s tour to Argentina but what an impact. Destroyed Australia in the third Test.
    Alun Wyn Jones (448min, 5pts) Towered over the series, a selfless grafter giving of himself and led by example in the decider as he took over captaincy.
    Adam Jones (292min, 0pts) A rock, never complaining, always contributing, keeping the scrum honest and ensuring a stable platform.
    Jonathan Davies (503min, 15pts) The man who was not Brian O’Driscoll wrote himself into history books as himself, a player of guile and intelligence.

    8/10
    Toby Faletau
    (414min, 0pts) Rose to claim the heights in the third Test and made you wonder why he had not made the cut for the first two.
    Sam Warburton (299min, 0pts) Took time to build his game after his injury lay-off but showed what he had to offer in the second Test until his hamstring popped.
    Paul O’Connell (207min, 5pts) Another to be deprived of glory through injury but made as big a contribution off the field as on it.
    Dan Lydiate (439min, 5pts) Overlooked for the first Test but came through to show how important his chop-chop tackling is.
    Related Articles

    7/10
    Brian O’Driscoll
    (320min, 15pts) The man at the centre of selection controversy deserves to be remembered for typically hard-nosed defence and commitment to the cause.
    Alex Cuthbert (320min, 20pts) Only had a blast in the first Test but showed his potential with a surging try and will be a big presence in 2017.
    Tom Youngs (324min, 0pts) Richard Hibbard was preferred for the third Test but Youngs brought real energy from the bench and showed his worth in the opening Tests.
    Sean O’Brien (348min, 10pts) Really picked up his game towards the end of the tour with gritty and powerful displays.
    Tommy Bowe (282min, 5pts) A miraculous recovery from fractured hand saw him start the last two Tests and was busy as ever on the field.
    Jonathan Sexton (395min, 19pts) Did not scale the heights but showed glimpses throughout and kept Australia honest with sharp breaks, taking try well.
    Mako Vunipola (342min, 5pts) Even though he was troubled in the first half of the second Test, he proved a real handful in so many games and is another one for the future.
    Conor Murray (296min, 10pts) Was seen as third choice behind Mike Phillips and Ben Youngs but took his opportunities well.
    Manu Tuilagi (190min, 0pts) Tour was ravaged by stinger problems in his neck but showed some deft touches in his game as well as his usual power.
    Jamie Roberts (272min, 5pts) Injury-blighted tour but showed what the Lions missed with a blasting performance in the final Test.
    Justin Tipuric (297min, 0pts) Came through strongly to claim replacement spot in the last Test, lively and cunning at the breakdown.
    Geoff Parling (301min 5pts) Master of the line-out, Parling stepped into the breach when O’Connell fell crook, wonderful potential try-saving tip tackle in the third Test.

    6/10
    Mike Phillips
    (240min, 10pts) Did not deliver the virtuoso showing of 2009 when he was physical and dominant in all that he did.
    Richard Hibbard (306min, 5pts) Came through strongly to play an important role in the third Test with his big scrummaging game.
    Owen Farrell (272min, 51pts) Saw little game time in the Test series but showed zip and sparkle in tour games and looks to have broadened his repertoire.
    Ben Youngs (264min, 10pts) An up-and-down tour with some good all-round performances mixed in with sub-standard displays. Needs to be on a more even keel.
    Richie Gray (357min, 0pts) The Scot managed to fly the saltire when coming on in third Test, a reward for invigorating tour displays.
    Stuart Hogg (328min, 23pts) Youngest member of the group and will flourish in New Zealand in four years’ time, doing a noble stint as backup fly-half.
    Dan Cole (310min, 0pts) Did not make the impact he might have wanted in that Adam Jones was clear first choice tighthead but dutiful from the bench.
    Simon Zebo (172min, 0pts) An enthusiastic mid-tour addition to the party, his zest making him an outside contender for Test team.
    Jamie Heaslip (373min, 5pts) Strong mid-tour form saw him into the Test team but did not manage to really impose himself.
    Sean Maitland (323min, 5pts) Made best use of what he has to offer and made the bench for the first Test.

    5/10
    Tom Croft
    (230min, 10pts) Slipped down the rankings after starting the first Test but showed well in early games.
    Ian Evans (278min, 0pts) The Wales lock came with a late charge in Rebels match but did not manage to replicate Six Nations form.
    Rob Kearney (162min, 0pts) Injured just before departure and never recovered the bite that is usually there in his attacking game.
    Matt Stevens (214min, 0pts) Unflagging but did not push himself into Test contention.
    Ryan Grant (141min, 0pts) The Scotland prop was one of eight call-ups and trusted enough to be backup in the second Test. Technically sound.
    Brad Barritt (152min, 0pts) Part of the cavalry that arrived for the Brumbies match and did not let anyone down.
    Billy Twelvetrees (108min, 0pts) Another to answer the call to arms and will benefit from experience.
    Shane Williams (68min, 0pts) Back into retirement, one last tour of duty completed.
    Cian Healy (62min, 0pts) Lively couple of outings, beating a citing for biting and then ruled out of tour with an ankle injury.

    4/10
    Tom Court
    (25mins, 0pts) Australian-born Ireland prop got the Lions out of a hole as cover.
    Rory Best (170min, 0pts) Late call-up to the original party for the suspended Dylan Hartley but fell by the wayside with line-out throwing.
    Christian Wade (80min, 0pts) Bewildering late summons and understandably off the pace in Canberra.
    Gethin Jenkins (0min, 0pts) Did not register as injury struck.
     
  15. Judge Jules

    Judge Jules SCM Addict Member

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    Run that one past me again, mate....;)
     
    Brendan4PM likes this.
  16. LarryHagman

    LarryHagman Well-Known Member

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    Deans sacked, McKenzie in today. Should have happened after the last WC.
     
  17. LarryHagman

    LarryHagman Well-Known Member

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    James O'Connor released by the Melbourne Rebels. Apparently, he's been on the pop a lot lately & is a grade A dickhead. Him and Beale are a bad influence on each other (no shit) so they've decided to get rid of O'Connor.
    Only the Western Force have shown an interest so far. He used to play for the Force here in Perth but left 2 years ago saying 'he had to do whatever it took to preserve brand O'Connor'. Penis.
    Was the Rugby media darling here 2 years ago. You might see him in France or England next, I doubt there'll be a scramble for him here, he's on big money.
     
  18. Ryan

    Ryan The Prophet Member

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    I sat beside him on a flight from Sydney-Melbourne a couple of months back.

    He sat there taking selfies of himself for Instagram for half the flight, doing that v-sign thing with his fingers that all wabs seem to be doing these days. Complete whopper.
     

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