Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


3 Is The, um, Magic Number

Sean Maitland - photo © Alastair Ross

Scotland ended up with just three British and Irish Lions today as Warren Gatland announced the tour party he believes can take on the Wallabies down under.

And, yep, north of the border we have a few issues with it, and not just due to the lack of Scots.

We didn’t have a blinder of a Six Nations so we aren’t expecting to make nearly half the squad like Wales. There is also a fair chance representation will increase in case of injury, so we shouldn’t be too bitter.The first order of play is to congratulate Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland and Richie Gray on their selection, and to all who made the cut.

But I can’t help feeling that in some areas it is a powerful squad while in others the selections seem a little oddball.

For example, why say you aren’t going to pick French based players then take Gethin Jenkins and Mike Phillips – and ask Jonny Wilkinson only to be turned down?

Why say you can’t afford to pick on reputation but must select based on form and use the Six Nations as a barometer, and then pick some who had pretty stinky tournaments and take Heaslip, Kearney, Hartley, Lydiate, Healy, Jenkins (again) or even Richie Gray, leaving out the likes of Simon Zebo, Chris Robshaw, Rory Best, Ryan Grant or Kelly Brown? Why pick 3 front row players from England who don’t start for their country, one of them because he has retired? Gatland even overlooked a Welshman in Paul James there.

The squad for the 10-match, three-Test series, which kicks off in Hong Kong on June 1, is made up of 15 Welshmen, 10 Englishmen (including 6 from Graham Rowntree’s old club Leicester and one member of coach Andy Farrell’s family), nine Irishmen and our three plucky Scotsmen and will be captained by Wales’ Sam Warburton.

Gatland said: “We spent a long time selecting this squad and there were some close calls with a lot of competition for places. But ultimately we chose the players who will give us the best chance of a Test series victory. A Lions Tour to Australia only comes around once every 12 years and we believe we have the right balance in the squad to be successful.

“We have a tremendous challenge in front of us but I know the players will be dedicated to the adventure and task ahead.”

Ultimately it is subjective; Gatland has made that point from the start.

I’m sure our boys will do us proud, however many of them we adopt.

Fullbacks:  Leigh Halfpenny (Wales, Cardiff Blues), Stuart Hogg (Scotland, Glasgow Warriors), Rob Kearney (Ireland, Leinster)

Wings: Tommy Bowe (Ireland, Ulster), Alex Cuthbert (Wales, Cardiff Blues), Sean Maitland (Scotland, Glasgow Warriors), George North (Wales, Scarlets)

Centres: Jonathan Davies (Wales, Scarlets), Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland, Leinster), Jamie Roberts (Wales, Cardiff Blues), Manusamoa Tuilagi (England, Leicester Tigers)

Outside halves: Owen Farrell (England, Saracens), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland, Leinster)

Scrum halves: Conor Murray (Ireland, Munster), Mike Phillips (Wales, Bayonne), Ben Youngs (England, Leicester Tigers)

Props: Dan Cole (England, Leicester Tigers), Cian Healy (Ireland, Leinster), Gethin Jenkins (Wales, Toulon), Adam Jones (Wales, Ospreys), Matt Stevens (England, Saracens), Mako Vunipola (England, Saracens)

Hookers: Dylan Hartley (England, Northampton Saints), Richard Hibbard (Wales, Ospreys), Tom Youngs (England, Leicester Tigers)

Second rows: Ian Evans (Wales, Ospreys), Richie Gray (Scotland, Sale Sharks), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales, Ospreys), Paul O’Connell (Ireland, Munster), Geoff Parling (England, Leicester Tigers)

Back rows: Tom Croft (England, Leicester Tigers), Toby Faletau (Wales, Newport Gwent Dragons), Jamie Heaslip (Ireland, Leinster), Dan Lydiate (Wales, Newport Gwent Dragons), Sean O’Brien (Ireland, Leinster), Justin Tipuric (Wales, Ospreys), Sam Warburton (Wales, Cardiff Blues)

5 Responses

  1. Three takes me into the ‘disappointment’ zone. 4 or 5 I would have thought fair enough; 6 or more I would have been pleasantly surprised. Grant, Brown, Laidlaw, Beattie, Visser all must have been considered, but cut out of the close calls. Feels like a kick in the ‘nads, but hopefully my mood will change from mild resentment to enthusiasm by the first test… . I really hope the 3 lads get first team action and do us proud. I also hope that the national squad as a whole use this as serious – f~ck you then – motivation to put in some serious performances and raise our apparently dire standing amongst our home nations neighbours.

  2. “For example, why say you aren’t going to pick French based players then take Gethin Jenkins and Mike Phillips – and ask Jonny Wilkinson only to be turned down?”

    When did Gatland say he wouldn’t pick French-based players simply because they are based in France? I understood it was just players who couldn’t board the flight to Hong Kong on 27 May who were ruled out – i.e. those likely to be involved in the Top 14 final on 1 June.

    Hence Mike Philips not being affected. As for Gethin Jones, he will apparently being flying with the squad on 27 May too rather than being on the bench for Toulon on 1 June. It’s not clear if it is because he’s doing a ‘Hines’ or if apparently his move to Cardiff Blues actually takes effect before the Top 14 final.

    In any event, it sounds as if Gatland has left himself enough wiggle room to call up some of these ‘unavailable’ players as injury cover if required.

  3. Sigh totally gutted by selection of just three Scots. Mind you its not just Scotland some really weird decisions – Hartley over Best seriously!

    Jamie Heaslip in the squad – I thought that had to be a wind up. Of all 8’s in 6N’s he was poorest. Actually was most impressed by Morgan as he destroyed us at twickenham and would have had him as test 8.

  4. Delighted for Hogg, Maitland and Gray. All 3 have the potential to destroy the Aussies! Think Maitland if he’s given the chance could end up being one of the players of the tours! And Hoggy being able to provide cover right along the back line is just a bonus for Gatland.
    I don’t think Robshaw getting left out was that much of a shock.
    As for Kelly Brown, I am gutted he was not picked instead of Croft. I just can’t understand it, do the stats not speak for themselves?!
    Rory Best not being included is the biggest shock, can’t believe Gatland has take Hartley (don’t rate him anymore) and Youngs (inexperienced) ahead of him.
    And as for Ryan Grant I thought he was a shoe in, hopefully he is one of the reserves in case of injury, would love him to prove to Gatland he should have been there in the first place!

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion