Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


No Scots in Lions tests as support in Scotland diminishes

Lions crest

Warren Gatland announced the 23 for the final Lions Test once again without any Scots present. Our last great hope, Tommy Seymour, was deemed not as good as Jack Nowell for the 23 shirt despite hitting some form late in the tour.

My thoughts are largely summed up here in Andy Burke’s piece over on the BBC website. Here are some thoughts I had that were left on the cutting room floor, and credit should go also to Gav and John who germinated a lot of them.

Here are some thoughts I had that were left on the cutting room floor, and credit should go also to Gav and John who germinated a lot of them.

Scots have had little reason to participate in the Lions for more than a decade now (effectively 2001) which means there is a generation of Scotland fans growing up with no real buy-in to the concept. There is genuine apathy amongst many Scotland fans, which is reflected in the results of our polls, the first of which is the one mentioned in the article:

When you hear stories like the one on BBC last week from Ryan Grant where he was effectively told as a test loosehead that the scrum coach didn’t trust him enough to play him in a test, you wonder what sort of buy-in there is from the coaching group too. Are they doing their homework or picking their mates – which is a complaint we’ve heard over and over?

Familiarity is understandably attractive to a coach given the short time they have to prepare what needs to be a test quality side, but trusting someone to do a job and that person being able to do the job are two different things. Ultimately the coaches reputation rides on it.

What probably doesn’t help is that the Lions seem to be doing okay without much Scottish involvement. The other thing which both proves and disproves the point is that the players like Alun Wyn Jones and Jonathan Davies who were picked out of form in a stuttering Welsh side have since rediscovered it on tour. So our lads who might be good enough will never know, while the guys we think aren’t good enough might come good and reward the faith shown in them. Which means they get picked again next time, because they’ve been there and done it.

Gatland’s selections have obviously caused a fair bit of upset among Scottish fans but realistically we were unlucky that Huw Jones, Duncan Taylor & WP Nel got injured when they did as those are guys who would have had a shot, in particular Taylor/Jones might have been a ready made combo, and we know how he likes those early in the tour in the absence of a decent backs coach.

In other areas like second and back row there is just fantastic depth and you could make a case either way for those who went and those who didn’t – including England’s Joe Launchbury – so it comes down to the coaches preference for how they see it going. In the end the coaches will pick those they are familiar with who can deliver what they need and we sadly have to sit back and grimace.

I think it’s been great to see the guys who have gone to New Zealand take their limited chances and hopefully that exposure to a higher level will help them improve when they return to the national team. I also hope those who missed out will use it to spur them on come the autumn or the Six Nations. A test match against the All Blacks and the resumption of Six Nations hostilities should be good starting points.

With the generation of talent Scotland has coming through now there’s no reason we can’t make up a much larger part of the squad in four years time. And then I hope we will see interest pick up again.

The Lions as a sporting concept on paper remains a great one: putting together a scratch side to play a top tier rugby nation on their own turf is a bit of an adventure, it’s like fantasy football where you get to mix and match the best guys from Britain & Ireland. On sporting merit you can admire it, and I think that is where a lot of Scots fans are (and have been for the last couple of tours), its grudging admiration.

I’ll still be going to the pub on Saturday morning to watch the Lions. But if they win, its definitely going to feel bittersweet.

107 Responses

  1. is this the first time that no scots at all have been selected in all 3 lions tests ?

    1. First time in over a century apparently. And first time since 1950 only 3 of the 4 nations have been represented in at least 1 test.

      1. Was never going happen – if the last test was a dead rubber then Seymour might have made the bench. He’s so much better Daly and Norwel, but it’s Gatland in charge.

        I hope NZ put 50 on them.

  2. New Zealand are going to be raging about last week and should win at a canter, although I said that last week.

    A lot of posters on other forums saying they cannot see where the 23 would be improved by a Scottish player, and given that it’s only Greeg and Seymour out there they have a point, although Tommy has performed just as well as Nowell, Daly and Watson. But, had all our players been available for selection back in April then Nel would have been a stronger option than Furlong (really can’t understand the hype around him), Watson should have gone and may have been a bench option, Russell should have gone and is better than Sexton, Taylor is better than Farrell at IC and Jones is better than JD2. Hogg obviously is the best 15 in the NH.

    Even between 2001 and 2013 I supported the Lions, but this tour has shown Gatland to be from a different era in coaching and man management terms and the Lions do not have my support. They were fortunate last week regarding the SBW red, the Vunipola non-red and Barret’s profligacy with the boot, and IMO the press are deluding the public and themselves that the Lions really stand a chance at Eden Park. I guess time will tell.

    Assuming Scotland continue their resurgence and we have a better coach in 2021, we should have a larger contingent and I most definitely will go back to supporting the Lions.

    1. Press already lauding Gatland as a mastermind but I expect if NZ win healthily last week’s rather fortunate win will be put in perspective. If Lions win we’ll never hear the end of it though, and frankly that is an outcome I dread. 93 Lions was first tour I watched and fell in love with them and cheered 93/97 Lions heartily. Now I can’t help but hoping it disappears. Gives Scotland virtually no benefit, and gives us a kicking every four years.

      1. Depressing and frustrating as the anti-Scotland selection bias is, I still can’t bring myself to go against the Lions this Saturday. The selection issues were not caused by the players themselves, and it’s been good to watch Seymour and Laidlaw and, briefly, Hogg getting stuck in whenever selected.
        A grim consolation for us if the Lions lose the third Test will be that not one single Scot featured in the series, so we bear no responsibility.
        If the Lions win, then I will be ready to jump down the throats of those who will surely crow that it was BECAUSE no Scot featured, which would be an illogical claim. It would be despite rather than because.
        Anyway, we’ve got the AIs and 6N 18 to focus on together with how Edinburgh and Glasgow fare under their new coaching regimes.
        An awful lot of English, Irish and Welsh fans on various forums have expressed sympathy for the Scots about the Lions selection debacle, and admiration for our resurgence as a strong Tier 1 side. That’s some kind of consolation too. There have been a few numpties, but I covered that in a separate post.

      2. That is incredibly small-minded. You just don’t get the Lions concept do you? The whole point is that our petty little national differences go away as we get behind OUR representative team. Nobody is giving you a kicking, most of us regret the lack of Scottish talent and want to see a strong Scotland team.

      3. Johnny – point is this year I don’t feel there is a lack of Scottish talent and Scotland were better than Wales and not far behind Ireland this season; I don’t feel it is a Lions side that represents me because Scottish players have almost universally been snubbed; and yes, selection and online comment has been accompanied by routine denigration of our players and Scottish rugby, not to mention in the press by former players like Tom Shanklin. Always accompanied by bone-headed comments like yours, trying to claim some kind of dubious moral high ground about supporting a professional sporting team.

        Until the late 80’s Lions selection was done by committee which meant that it was genuinely a collaboration between four countries, for better of for worse. That was gotten rid of because of the increasing professionalisation of the Lions. But of course you knew that didn’t you, because you ‘get’ the concept of the Lions so well.

    2. I will not be supporting the Lions on Saturday. This Lions test team is comparable to a “Pro 12 Select” without any Scots and there is no way I could feel any involvement in such a team. Of course, we hear plenty of “have to select the best of the best”, and “Gatland got it right” arguments from the likes of Guscott and the lickspittle Hastings. But surely, the Lions concept is dead when one of the constituent countries is not represented in any of the tests? Has that ever been the case for any of the other countries? And don’t get me started on the Geography Six!

      So, I hope NZ do win and then we won’t have to put up with the nauseating English, Irish, and Welsh media trumpeting on for years about their players being the greatest ever, and Gatland’s selection policy may be seen for what it is.

  3. I will be watching, with plenty of mates who are Lions supporters and will be hoping for a crushing victory. COME ON NZ!

  4. Of course we’re all hurting, but I’ll still be supporting the Lions on Saturday. Saying I won’t would be (a bit) like not supporting Scotland because there’s nobody from Dundee in the squad! I must admit that my heart won’t really be in it though.
    Would Gatland have been lambasted if he’d replaced Nowell with Seymour? Probably. “Political selection” they would have said, and probably rightly. That doesn’t make it a wrong choice though. I’ll always remember when Gordon Bulloch came off the bench in the final test 12 years ago, and the whole crowd (even some kiwis) sang a roaring, rousing, albeit ironic rendition of Flower of Scotland. THATs what the Lions is all about. And I miss it.

    1. It’s not like saying there’s nobody from Dundee though is it? A better comparison would be having a Scotland 6 Nations squad with virtually no representation from Edinburgh Rugby (i.e. all Glasgow Warriors and exiles), and certainly none starting a single match. That would rightly be considered ridiculous.

      1. Why is that ridiculous? What would be ridiculous would be having players from Edinburgh Rugby in when they are not good enough or don’t fit the style the coach wants to play.

      2. So Reid, Brown, Fagerson, Gray, Gray, Wilson, Barclay, Strauss, Price, Russell, Seymour, Dunbar, Taylor, Visser, Hogg.
        Not a bad side and not an Edinburgh player amongst them. Not so ridiculous and all could rightly be said to be there on merit. Would you not support that Scotland team just because there are no Edinburgh players and Townsend is obviously showing his Glasgow bias?
        That’s why I’ll be supporting the Lions, because those guys are representing all of us, the Scots too. If Hoggy, Greig and Tommy can brush the chip off their shoulder, then we should too.

      3. Merlot – not a bad side, no. But I think you could legitimately query the lack of Ford/Nel/Watson/Hardie for starters. That is the point, we’re not looking for equal representation – just fair. The fact that you could put together a Scotland squad without Edinburgh players doesn’t make it right to do so.
        Johnny – I agree, but clearly there are Edinburgh players who should start for Scotland on current merit as above. The issue with the Lions is on current merit. There hasn’t been this sort of backlash in recent tours. Why? Because we have largely not been anywhere up to the standard. We are now. THAT is the difference.

        Anyway, I don’t feel that the Lions represent me any more than say, Munster, playing in the Champions Cup final against a French side, represent me. Each to their own.

  5. Hopefully one good thing to come out of this Lions tour is that the core players of England, Wales and Ireland will, by the time the 2018 6N comes around, will have played sold rugby with no appreciable rest for 18 months, and will be absolutely shot by the time we play them.

    I firmly believe if we win our opening game against Wales in Cradiff then we’ll be real contenders for the title next year.

    1. I think we’ll be on a hiding to nothing if we think 2018 may be our year. With 3 away games and only France and England at home, I’ll be expecting no more than 2 wins. Hoping for more obviously.
      2019 though – World Cup Year – could be our first 6N championship, even a GS (whisper it).
      First up – Italy at home. Lovely.
      Next – Ireland at home. Confidence building.
      Then France away. Not so scary, especially after this year’s near miss.
      Wales at home comes next and they will either be overconfident after beating England or smarting. Either way easy pickings.
      Finally a Grand Slam on offer at Twickenham, with revenge for this year.

      1. 3 wins in 2018 would definitely be a more impressive feat than our 3 wins in 2017 but I think only 2 wins would be regressive.
        Obviously we will be favourites in Rome and at home to France.
        Another win will mean either beating England (no mean feat) or an elusive win in Dublin or Cardiff which would each be a significant milestone for us.

        There is no status quo in my mind, it’s either 2 wins = regressive (we’re back to only beating Italy and the odd home win against France or Ireland) and not being able to win away anywhere other than Rome OR it’s 3 wins = progress and we have done something we haven’t done for a number of years, as above.

        Of course, if we can get 3 wins by say, winning in Cardiff, then you have to start dreaming that we could get 4 by winning in Dublin or dare I say it beating England at Murrayfield and a GS!

      2. Rory, there isn’t much of a trend, largely because even if we have pulled out a shock win – Dublin ’10 or England @Murrayfield in ’08 for example – we have not achieved the ‘easier’ task of beating Italy that year.
        Back in the 90s (pre-Italy), when I considered England and France to be the two strongest sides, it often felt like the year we were at home to these two was a sort of ‘could win them all, could lose them all’ year, whereas the alternate year felt like you should beat Ireland and Wales at home but had no chance away to France and England. In recent years the French have slipped and Ireland and Wales have improved so you could argue that the 4 of them are much of a muchness and therefore the Italy home game tips it. However, ANY side hoping to win a 6N should be beating Italy home or away, so once you take them out of the equation, I think I would still rather have England and France at home (as England at Twickenham is the toughest game) and Ireland and Wales away.
        Of course, BPs now make this even more interesting.
        As I have discussed here on numerous occasions – I think the order of fixtures is a factor. Arguably more so than home/away advantage.

  6. I think we’ll win at least 3 games this 6N, Wales away (they always struggle following a Lions tour), France at home, and Italy away. England will be very tough but, if I’m right, we’ll have won our first 2 games and be full of confidence. I actually think Ireland will be our toughest game.

    But yes I agree that in 2019, assuming we keep our upward trajectory, we will be in with a real shout.

  7. I’m not convinced that playing for the Lions is the highest level. How is it a higher level than playing in the 6N, the RWC or against NZ? It’s meant to be an honour to play for the Lions, but when the head coach makes such nepotistic selections and selects journeymen like Payne, it just doesn’t seem as good. A bit like beating a 14-man NZ…

  8. Kind of glad J Gray, Barclay & Taylor weren’t on the tour. We know now they would have just been trotted out midweek and run into the ground without a chance in hell of making the test 23. Taylor being injured so not being competitive for the squad is a red herring – Kruis was injured in the lead up to the Lions squad being announced and got in for example, let alone Warburton or Alun Wyn Jones. You see a lot of ex-players and officials hyping up the Lions, and about how the important thing is to win the tests – there is a massive disconnect there to the fans.

  9. I think the suggestion that Jones, Taylor and (to a lesser extent) Nel would have been selected if not for injury is giving Gatland way too much credit. I’m wuite confident that he would have chosen the centres he did regardless. If it had been any of J.Gray, Watson, Barclay, Dunbar or Russell who had been injured instead we would probably have been saying the same thing.

  10. Is anyone really surprised by the selection for the weekend? Beyond injuries, why would Gatland change from last weekend after winning the test? He’s not renowned for picking teams to play a certain way against different opposition as he’s always had his favourites and won’t be changing his tactics for the weekend.

    It does annoy me that Nowell is on the bench instead of Tommy. Nowell is all over the place on a rugby pitch. He has energy but applies it in the wrong way. How many pick and goes should a winger be doing in a game? Nowell loves one. Tommy is much more intelligent as a player and puts himself in the right place at the right time and links with his back three and therefore should be in the team. I would have liked to see Daly at outside centre (his favoured position) allowing a back three with Tommy involved, but that’s just me.

    For what it’s worth I will still support the lions. I think they have a good chance of winning this test with much improved discipline. I also don’t think the NZ back line is as intimidating as it used to be, but I’m prepared to be very wrong! Hope it’s a good game.

    All the Scottish players have to suck up the non-event of the Lions tour and tear into everyone they play from now to the end of the 6 nations. Use the experience and fuel future performances. I expect a reaction.

  11. Good on Jim Telfer and Ryan Grant for having some balls and publicly voicing their discontent at the Lions. It’s been bitterly disappointing to see the SRU sit on their hands whilst fans have had the likes of a dreary Gavin Hastings yawn opinions of a series fixture that doesn’t include us.

    I hope the AllBlacks put 50 past our local nations here. Love the highlanders and everything NZ has done for Scottish rugby in the professional era (e.g Cotter, Hardie, Rennie, Maitland, OHalloran, etc)

  12. What gets me the most about this tour is the lack of honesty displayed by Gatland. He may or may not be the right choice of coach to beat the ABs – we’ll see on Saturday – and he has chosen players HE thinks he can get to play a type of rugby that will do the job. Fair enough & that was almost certainly going to mean few if any Scots in the test teams. But please admit that’s the case, don’t pretend you’re going to pick on form when clearly not the case. And as for the geography 6, just say that they are there as injury cover only, don’t pretend that they have any kind of chance of selection. Hopefully, 4 years brings a new coach who is honest, wants attractive rugby & does actually pick on form. 4 years for Scotland to prove we are genuinely out of the doldrums & simply cannot be ignored.
    I watched last week, mainly because it was £4 for brekkie & a pint – ? – and surprised myself by how vocal my support was for the Lions. Might have noise abatement served on me in 4 years when Jones, Hogg & Russell all cross the whitewash wearing the red jersey!

  13. I would take issue with suggestion AWJ has been good on tour – he’s been shielded, hardly played and in the first test was appalling. Not being garbage against a 6 man pack in the second test appears to have elevated him to a level far beyond what his performances warrant.

    The most galling thing that will come out of this tour is Gatland’s reputation will not be damaged – unless the Lions are pumped in the 3rd test – his selections, his tactics his appalling decision to bring in 6 rucking pad holders and then shaft them – all will be forgotten.

    The sooner he leaves the NH the better, not since Matt Williams have I had so much contempt for a coach.

  14. Every marginal selection decision went against the Scots in a year the Irish & Welsh were well beaten, when there were legitimate injury excuses for the French & English away games and when Glasgow made mince of English & French teams, home and away, on the way to a first Champions Cup QF, losing out to the eventual back-to-back winners Saracens, who themselves have two Scots in their backline, Maitland & Duncan Taylor.

    Each of Ford, Brown, Gray, Gray, Watson, Russell, Dunbar, Maitland, Visser missed out in the main stages of selection. Versus Owens, Best, Moriarty, AWJ, Henderson, Kruis, Lawes, O’Mahony, Haskell, Biggar, Davies, Henshaw, Teo, North, Nowell, Daly.

    There can be no assumption, nor softening of criticism, that had they been fit Gatland would have picked any of Nel, Hardie, Strauss, Huw Jones or Duncan Taylor. At least three of them proved full fitness & form with enough time to be called up.

    Then, Russell was expressly insulted by Gatland – being told he was devaluing the jersey – after agreeing to join the tour and miss the end of Scottish tour. This, a player who is considered by many non-Scots to be the most naturally talented fly-half in the northern hemisphere, the player who was MOM in, among other games, victories against Dan Carter’s Racing (home and away), Ireland, Wales and most recently Australia away, a feat Gatland has never managed with Wales. The same player who was the recipient of the Macphail scholarship to live in NZ, who has played alongside Crusaders players and been lauded by Haggart, Deans and Cotter. Could any of that experience perhaps have been useful on tour or devaluing to the jersey?

    What is the Lions concept about? It is meant to be about all of the home nations banding together to play rugby. Even if Scotland didn’t have the players available (it clearly did), you make space for some of them. It’s called positive discrimination and it’s been recognized the world over when you are trying the serve a loftier ideal. In particular, sport and the Lions has no use at all, other than the use we give it, which is to enthuse those participating by playing or watching. A generation of an entire nation could have been given that benefit, had Gatland deigned to pick and play a few form players. If no Welsh or Irish players were picked can you imagine the uproar, the accusations of borderline-racism… How dare Gatland come to the six nations and not pick a single Irish player, a single Welsh player, he he not aware of the broader connotations!!!

    If you want to go the other way and only pick a team purely to win the tests then we are back to the Clive Woodward principle (albeit his execution was flawed), i.e. simply pick the stand out team (assuming there is one) and graft-in a small number of exceptional players. This time that should have been the England squad, managed by Eddie Jones, plus only Conor Murray, CJ Stander, Faletau and Stuart Hogg. But that’s not the Lions.

    As it is, Gatland and Howley have not missed a chance to snub the Scots and it is disgraceful. On top of the above grievances you can add the following extra insults: the minor role offered to the Gregor Townsend – act as bag man to Howley while knowing there was a Scottish tour, without any role offered to Cotter or other coaches; the removal from the tour of Lions stalwart and possibly the most respected doctor in world rugby- James Robson; the ludicrous justification as to why more Scots weren’t picked ‘they play better as a team and more than a sum of their parts’ (WTF! Scotland better as a team??? Is he deliberately trying to stem the resurgence Scottish rugby affect the minds of talented young players); the refusal to give any test or bench time to the top scorer on tour Seymour, who has out-ranked Nowell, among others others, according to mainstream NZ media.

    And, every time I hear or see Andy Nicol or Gavin Hastings trot out another self-justifying and weak-willed platitude or dance for the cameras I remember why contempt for Scotland is able to continue.

    I sincerely hope the All Blacks inflict a cricket score on the Lions and that the next six nations GT inspires a collective FU to Warren Gatland.

    1. Good post, NRS. Don’t disagree with a word of it. I’ve been striving to understand why, despite all the devaluing of the shirt (Gatland’s devaluing, not the Geography 6’s) and the shameful anti-Scots bias in play here, I still want to see the Lions win the series.
      I now think I know why, at least for me. Since I was a small boy reading newspaper reports of the 71 legends just after starting to play the game at school, I’ve loved the concept and the reality of the Lions tours. I just can’t help myself. If you’ll forgive a footie comparison, most supporters’ lifelong love for their clubs is rooted in childhood. They may at times hate players, captain, ground, playing record, manager and Directors – but they love their club regardless and forever. The sense of club and love for it transcends everything bad that happens to it or is caused by it.
      And that’s the Lions for me. They’re my special and much loved quadrennial ‘club’. Gatland and his henchmen, and the mealy-mouthed, meal-ticketed, shameless bunch of former Scots Lions who are pundits out there, can do and have done by acts or omissions their level best to undermine the spirit of all four nation inclusivity of the Lions. But even so, I still love the Lions.
      Maybe the installation of a Toonie or a Vern for the next tour – or anyone else other than Gatland – underpinned by growing strength in the Scotland game, rewarded by more than token representation of Scots in that tour, will make me love the Lions even more next time round. Or maybe it won’t, because I’ll always love the Lions whatever.

      1. Thanks. Just a shame that you have to go back to 1997 for decent representation. Not many people under 30-35 will feel the same.

      1. Forgot John Barclay captain of pro-12 winning Scarlets. Plenty of others mention him. Can’t imagine there’d be too many Welsh complaints if he’d captained the midweek side. Other Lions tourists that could have been picked on too, Tipuric, Payne.

  15. Boring now. Let’s look forward to the pro 6 regenerating into the international flying rugby circus

  16. Gatland proved in Oz that it’s far better to be lucky than good. Scraped past the worst Oz team in recent memory.
    His luck has held again, for different reasons, and the win last week makes him virtually bulletproof regardless of what happens on Saturday.

  17. Conflicted about this tour since the start and the initial squad being picked … like many above have said it seems there have been double standards applied to selection and the Twickenham match was the ideal result/performance to use as evidence for the frailty of our players under real pressure and dare we say it slightly unrealistic expectations. Saying all that I’ll watch on Saturday and will want the Lions to win but the missing element is my heart is not in it. Partly because I’ve no dog in the fight but also because we as a country are robbed of the joy of that one amazing, heart lifting moment that it was one of US behind the move that led to the try / tackle/ drop goal that turned that famous game… I can hear it in my head “it’s Murray from the base of the scrum, 20 meters out… passes to Russell … feints … dummies … it’s Russell … Russell to win it for the Lions …” ooft

  18. I see no benefIt for the 4 nations from a Lions tour. In fact only downsides.

    Hogg is home injured and unavailable for club or country being one example.

    We have great leagues, the 6 nations and the AI’s. Plenty of quality rugby in front of home fans. Hogg got his Lions fee and as for Glasgow fans, they get nothing but a gap to fill. I wonder who is paying his wages when he is injured?

    Russell gets no game time, Scotland lose to Fiji.

    Now if I were in the southern hemisphere, I would argue differently. It is their pay day ……However, at , who’s ,expense !!

    There is something well wrong here !!!! We must be soft in the head to even think we are missing out , we should be pulling out and looking after our own interests.

    1. Apart from significant compensation payments to the union, raised profile of the players and arguably the most elite set up they’ll be involved in. The lions are going nowhere it’s too lucrative. If you don’t like it don’t watch it. All the whinging is just playing up to the media stereotype of Scottish fans. None of our players would have been near the test squad except Hogg and Nel if fit. If Webb or Murray got injured I’d rather Davies was called up before playing laidlaw in a test. Watson would not have been near the test squad, the grays are too soft. Russell would have been a better midweek option than biggar.

      1. Yeah, can’t believe Watson – one of the players of the 6N – wasn’t more deserving of a place than nailed on dirt tracker Tipuric. Or Barclay ahead of Ross Moriarty who played one good game in the 6N. Even Warburton has been a passenger all tour due to injury, he played well in the 2nd test apparently although don’t mention Kaino was off the field for the vast majority of the match.

      2. JP -Not sure if you are responding to my post or commenting generally. Just saying as it doesnot answer the points.

        I have been principled enough not to watch for many reasons so no point in telling your granny how to have children.

        I do not see cash as compensation for losing men from National tours or Glasgow fans being without their most expensive wage earner for a good part of the season. However some would…

        The Lions in 1974 (as one example) went on a 22 match, 12 weeks, tour of South Africa. The current concept is nothing like that .

        Some will say that is because we have so many more games to play. I agree and for that reason , why do we need a Lions tour !

  19. Don’t give a monkeys about the lions if there are no Scots selected.

    Lions are in for a roasting i reckon. They scraped a 3pt win playing against 14 men for most of the 2nd test. The 1st test result flattered the Lions…they were not even close.

  20. Hope and think the Lions get gubbed tomorrow. It’s been 1 slap in the face after another with regard to our players. There’s no point listing them again. No complaints about our minimal representation for 15-odd years but it’s different this time. Laidlaw’s call-up almost made it worse as surely even nobody on here thinks he’s close to being the 4th best scrum-half available and we’ve had to listen to english and Welsh saying he’s no good and a sign of why more Scots weren’t called up. Does anyone rate him better than Price never mind the likes of Care, Willglesworth, Davies. All 23 players representing the Lions tomorrow I cheer against all season in pro 12 etc and the internationals and that won’t change.

    I too was well up for the Lions tours in the 80’s and 90’s but I really can’t understand why any Scot would be cheering for the Lions tomorrow, unless you don’t mind having the piss taken out of you.

    1. Think Lions might actually have significant benefit of momentum and no pressure this week – ABs a little unsettled so could be tight game and not a forgone conclusion.

    2. Good shout BLB. Been on 2 Lions Tours, but now over successive Tours Gatland has deflated my desire to cheer the once proud institution that is the British & Irish Lions. And no, its not just the lack of tartan involvement, but his poor quality coaching team, his loyalty to Welsh dross, taking players less than 100% fit in addition to below par individuals that has me hoping for a NZ try scoring frenzy tomorrow. The Red jersey has been demeaned and devalued by a Kiwi imho, and must never happen again.
      I want Coaching/Playing personnel born in these Isles only. Dont want/need rugby residency mercenaries.

  21. I come on here to read about Scottish rugby but all that’s discussed is rugby we are barely involved in, it’s so parochial. How about discussing the calamity of finally killing off a dying league with the changes to the P12?

    1. You’ve just contradicted yourself, if you just want to read about Scottish rugby then that’s being parochial. Go troll somewhere else.

    2. Isn’t discussing rugby we’re barely involved in the opposite of parochial? The changes to the Pro12 haven’t been confirmed, although I believe it’s going to be today. I think it’s a good thing to get some SA teams in, but not if it means dividing the league into conferences or extending the season. Dragons should be dropped and Zebre/Treviso amalgamated.

  22. Nrs
    Probably the most eloquent posting of why most Scottish rugby supporters feel the way they do about the lions.
    Absolutely well done sir.

    1. Cheers. Hopefully not long till that drubbing and we can look at Wales online. Only problem is that as someone else said with one victory Gatland is almost safe from widespread criticism. You have to think the players will be motivated come Wales away, game 1 of six nations 18…

  23. On the (non) selection of Scottish players, I was never convinced that Gatland would view Hogg and Seymour’s performances in warmup matches objectively – too much media chat coming out about how Hogg’s defending wasn’t rated etc. – and pretty much resigned myself to no test representatives as soon as Hogg left the tour. Laidlaw was never going to be a contender, leading me onto my main gripe about Gatland’s selections: as others have mentioned, he selected people like Haskell and Tipuric who were never going to play their way into selection as they were either clearly not as good as the test favourites or not in good form (I would also include Henderson and Laidlaw in this category and possibly also Rory Best, given he didn’t have a good tour in 2013).

    Why bother taking someone like Haskell when the likes of Hamish Watson and John Barclay were in form? Watson wrecked the Welsh back row (all of whom Gatland selected) in the 6N game at Murrayfield and to me seems to fit a similar profile to Kyle Sinckler: young, abrasive, dynamic and would have seized his chance to try and play his way into the 23. Likewise, whatever our frustrations with Jonny Gray’s carrying, he was in far better form than Henderson before the tour and might have put in a better string of performances against the Super Rugby sides when given the chance. Finn Russell would have been far more likely to threaten Sexton and Farrell as a 10 option than Dan ‘Salacious Crumb’ Biggar, who displays all the invention of a Michael Bublé tribute singer. On every occasion Gatland plumped for out of form players who wouldn’t threaten his test side rather than Scots in form. As Elliot Daly and Anthony Watson have shown, if taken on tour and given a chance, players can play their way into selection: I would have neither down as a ‘Gatland’ player, but both completely outplayed George North in the warmups and forced Gatland to pick them. Some of our guys never got the chance to do that and were overlooked for people like Haskell and Jared Payne who, in my opinion, add nothing to the equation other than being midweek selections who would never risk making Gatland’s test picks look mistaken.

    Secondly, no one should feel guilty about not supporting the Lions. Despite what the likes of Will Greenwood, Scott Quinnell et al would have you believe, the Lions is not some mystical concept embodying heroism, four nations working together and so on. Gaving Hastings spouts this nonsense as well in his various hostage video-esque appearances in Lions clips to justify Gatland’s choices.
    Clive Woodward killed any impression of four nations working together in his 2005 debacle when he used the tour as a jolly for many of his England mates who were two years over the hill; balanced selection is now subject to the preference of the coach. This year we got two Scots in the original squad, along with, to give just two examples 1. a New Zealander who was all set on being a project player for Ireland before suddenly switching alleigance to England when offered £20k a game 2. a South African who captained the u20 Springboks before going to Ireland and playing for them because he could earn more money doing so. All fine and dandy, rugby is a cosmopolitan game these days, but let’s not pretend that Ben Te’o, CJ Stander and Jared Payne grew up dreaming of wearing the ‘mystical’ Lions shirt (had our own WP Nel been included, this would obviously be true for him as well).

    As I think has been pointed out in an article elsewhere on this site, the Lions is about George North on a billboard flogging razors first, winning second, co-operation between four nations a distant third. If Gatland wants to include more Kiwis than Scots in his initial squad that is his prerogative, but it proves that the Lions is no longer a special thing and Scottish fans shouldn’t feel ashamed about feeling unable to support it. The tiresome ‘exciting and special’ line gets used as a stick to club us with by too many rugby pundits and ex-players, even people who I normally have a lot of time for, like Josh from the Blood and Mud podcast.

    I was at school in New Zealand in 2005 when the Lions last played there; I never would have thought I would be cheering on the All Blacks in the next series twelve years later. Sadly that has come to pass. I hope to see an ashen-faced Gatland heading down the stairs from the coaching box at Eden Park after a hiding tomorrow morning. Sorry for being verbose but this tour as a whole has been so so disappointing.

    1. Excellent lookatthebigtiger – especially the points about fringe players – why not take the Scots – to me that is Gatland’s biggest crime.

      Interesting comments on Watson and Daly – I really am scratching my head at them both – Watson has pace but really seen much in the way of nous, but Daly is just so military medium I cant quite understand his selection. Well I can if you watch the SKY coverage with the sound on – Daly has been shown up in both tests, but nobody in the media has thought – wait a minute, maybe he isn’t as good as we have been dribbling on about for months.

      The comment about Hogg and Seymour is spot on though – you could see Hogg not making the 23 if he had been fit, the moron like Barnes chipping away about “doubts over his defence” – Gatland was secretly delighted he didn’t have to make that call.

      1. Very well put. While there are plenty people claiming that we’re whingeing or being paranoid, your line of reasoning is pretty strong. Of course the rebuttal is, “but Gatland wants to win LOLFakeNews!”, but those posters are ignoring Gatland’s colossal ego. Yes, he wants to win, but he wants his judgement and actions to be vindicated more (to anyone wondering about my credentials as a psychiatric professional: I watched all 8 seasons of ‘House’).

        Those criticising us for not feeling involved are acting as though it’s a conscious, deliberate choice rather than a visceral reaction, and those blaming us for expressing our frustration, dissatisfaction and anger with the situation are targeting the wrong parties: Gatland (and those who selected him) are the ones who have, if not created, at least exacerbated this situation. Yes, the SRU were slow to adopt professionalism, yes we were pants for ages, but we’re not now, and losses like England and Fiji are the exceptions rather than the rule. Scottish players and the Lions as a whole deserve better than Gatland, regardless of what happens tomorrow.

  24. An hour before kick off and I am still conflicted. After gatlands treatment of the scots, I certainly don’t want to see him treated as some sort of rugby genius. Watching last week, I was happy the lions won, but I would begrudge a series victory without scots. I feel the same way when England play cricket, it’s not my game, I don’t mind particularly if they win, but I do like to see them collapse and get humped. I think a collapse is the only way the media will turn on gatland and judge him how he should be. They really seem to have forgotten they were against 14, Barrett missed 9 easy points, and only got in front when the AB pack, a man down, tired towards the end.

    1. All Blacks made a ton of mistakes and should have put them away early on… I honestly think that a fit first choice Scotland back line would have been no worse than what the Lions had (maybe excluding scrum half). Very depressing indeed.

    2. Indeed. A disappointingly NH performance from Gatland’s Lions, too. Farrell and Williams were pretty bad, AWJ anonymous, Stander anonymous, SW average (although magnanimous and diplomatic), Sinckler was poor, Te’o non-existent, JD2 average at best… This is the best the home nations can offer? 5 penalty kicks? Some flair players would’ve changed that game.

      1. Jonathan Davies has been the Lions best player. I think he’s been excellent personally.

      2. Really? He’s not been as bad as feared, but he’s not exactly been brilliant. I’d have SoB and Itoje comfortably ahead of him in player of the series.

      3. Davies at fault for both ab tries, ball watching for the first and as second tackler should have prevented the offload for the second

  25. I thought I’d buried that last minute in the WC semi against Australia until that decision on Ken Owens actual knock on in the last minute or two today.

    Poutre went to the TMO having made the call. He then decided that this is not a penalty offense if the offender isn’t deliberately offending. If that South African idiot had done either of those things, there’s every chance we would have been World Cup finalists.

    Why is rugby refereeing so inconsistent?

    1. Joubert couldn’t go to the TMO though – Poite did it under the pretence of Williams being fouled in the air.

      1. He could have gone back to check for foul play, like Poite did. Just didn’t think on his feet.

    2. Just hope whoever our skipper is in th 6N when we get reffed by Poite and such a call goes against us he reminds him it was ‘accidental’ , in my book it was involuntary and is always penalised with a penalty.

      That said, good game, AB’s left the glue off their hands, we would have been shouted down for some of the chances they butchered in the first half.

      Fatland in 2021, please not.

      1. Steve Hansen press-conference:

        “Go back to the World Cup and the same thing happened to Scotland who didn’t progress in the competition because they didn’t use the video.

        “This time they did, had a little pow-wow. His initial instincts were that it was a penalty but in the team of three one of them suggested it was accidental.

        “If we had scored another try ourselves it wouldn’t have been such a problem. We can’t control the refs.”

  26. At least us scots can put this shambles to bed , push for a neutral no biased coach for South Africa and have 8 + scots in the squad and our doctor back in the team.

    1. I’m not sure that there can be any doubt about favouritism from the French referees when it came to the biggest decisions in this series.

      Congratulations to the Welsh, English, French and Irish Lions. Hopefully you’re all knackered by the time the 6 nations comes around.

  27. Am I allowed to say that despite the lack of Scots, these have been 3 really exciting test matches ? Not always top quality, but real edge of the seat stuff.

  28. So the last interview is with gatland and the question asked , would he consider coaching to lions in 2021 , and he did not rule it out .

  29. Apart from Hogg no scot gets near a test team. Why are you crying about the third test?. What did you expect seymour to get in or something?.

    1. Yeah, that’s really dumb isn’t it, to expect the tour’s highest try-scorer to be in the test squad…

      1. Tommy Seymour versus the All Black wings. Are you genuinely joking?. I can understand the criticism of lack of initial scottish involvement, but in the third test?. After a successful second.

      2. Because he did terribly last time he played the ABs? Were Watson and Daly special today? Did they do anything we don’t expect of Seymour? Give me break…

  30. Watson had a cracking game and Daly brings more than a standard winger, I.e. A 55m boot. Oh and he’s by far the fastest in the squad. Seymours a class player but he isn’t better than the players picked.

    1. Daly was defensively adrift and I’m not convinced that he’s the fastest in the squad, let alone by far. Also, again with the idea that Scots players need to be better than the players from other countries – that’s literally discrimination.

      1. They need to be better than the players they are competing with. Yes it’s discrimination, discrimination based on ability. Daly had been identified as the quickest in the squad by coaching staff and players frequently.

      2. No, saying that Seymour has to be better than (not just equal to) the other players in the squad is discrimination based on the fact he plays for Scotland. He can’t simply be as good as his competitors; he has to be better than them. A standard applied to no-one else, hence the decidedly average AWJ playing.

  31. Well there is surely one major benefit from this lions tour which hasn’t been touched on much. Both our pro teams will benefit from the lack of involvement.

    Given the lions players will be rested, you’d have to think Cockerill has a great chance to get Edinburgh up the table quickly with wins against Scarlets, Ospreys and Blues.

    I think Glasgow will win this year because of this factor, as they’ll race ahead in first few games. Edinburgh will hopefully get to 7th this season and push on next year once Bennett is back and they further invest in players.

    Every cloud has a silver lining.

    1. I think we are a big winner from this tour. There will be a mental and physical,hangover which will only affect Seymour. Laidlaw does t found, he’s off to the meat grinder and is second choice for me now anyway.

  32. They won’t beat anyone above 7th position, that’s just the reality of the situation. Both Cheetahs and Kings would also crush them so I still think 7th is a success for that team. They are pretty crap bar 7 players.

  33. Actually bar 10 players. The difference however between being 7th and top 6 is having at least 23 quality players.

  34. I dont get the hype around watson , for me is a slightly faster , less intelligent Maitland . i dont see him as a finisher despite his speed and he dosent have that knack on being in the right place at the right times to finish tries. This could just be from the few games i have seen of him in lions/england and bath though. I wouldnt put money on him scoring once every 2 games thats for sure.

    1. You should have a look at some of the rubbish being spouted by some of the blinkered English and Welsh fans on the Official Lions Rugby site. The usual crap about Scots not being good individually. Being on that page is a bit like going to Twickenham, a rather unpleasant experience surrounded by a number of arrogant unpleasant individuals.

      1. Yes, the ‘Scotland as a team are better than the sum of their individual parts’ has morphed from Gatland coining it publicly to justify his selection approach into a lazy and much-repeated trope in fan forums. Hopefully our future performances will either kill it off or enable us to ram it down others’ throats. It will take some doing as there’s a weirdly self-justifying and self-perpetuating element to it : i.e. ‘ the more Scotland achieve as a national side the more obvious it is, old chap, that the team is indeed greater than its parts’.
        AIs and 6N can’t come soon enough for me. At the same time, hoping all our players get a nice, long, well-earned rest. And hoping for full and speedy recoveries for our injured lads.

      2. “Scotland are better than the sum of their individual parts whereas Wales are amazing individually” is a classic example of Karl Popper’s maxim that a statement that can’t be proved false is a load of nonsense. Scotland could win the World Cup in 2019 and Welsh fans would still try and argue that our players weren’t actually that good and it was all down to coaching/weather/star signs or whatever.

        It’s all down to insecurity of course. Rather than admit that a few out of form Welsh players like Tipuric and North were probably a bit lucky to get picked for the Lions given Wales had a stinker of a 6N, your average Welsh fan online will come up with any theory other than the truth to explain it. So rather than admitting George North was lucky to make the squad and benefited from the Wales coach also being the Lions coach, your Welshman tweets everyone (with many misspellings, naturally) proclaiming that North is inherently an excellent player whereas Sean Maitland, say, is a bad one who somehow looks good in a team which is “more than the sum of its parts.”

        Needless to say I hope we batter them again next year.

      3. I’ve said before, when it comes to the Lions, the Scots are held to a higher standard than our opponents. Remember the 6 nations before the last Oz tour, when Ireland had an absolute stinker and narrowly avoided the wooden spoon, even losing to Italy away, and yet they got 9 players selected to our 3. This year it was Wales having a below par 6 nations and they got 12 to our 2. Wales and Ireland are allowed to have bad years and not be punished in terms of Lions selection. We are not. And the media’s pre ordained narrative is we’re simply not good enough, even when our results suggest otherwise. We have to win a Six nations in my view to break this stigma. Or nothing will change, particularly if, god forbid, Gatland is given the reigns for the next tour.

      4. The worst part is that unless Scotland beat the ABs in Nov, people will cite it as validation of their belief that Scotland players aren’t good enough, regardless of how much Wales get hammered by.

  35. Nearly 30 years ago the first test rugby game I ever attended with my father was the deciding game in the 1989 tour.
    First rugby shirt I was given by my dad – BIL in 1989- following that game.

    I even got to meet the players at the ACT game in the weeks before.

    I thought the Lions were the best thing in the world and at the tender age of 12 dreamed I would one day play for them.

    Whenever I played rugby with my mates I would always choose the Lions shirt, to me it was the ultimate ideal 4 nations as one – unstoppable.

    Nearly 30 years on and to me the Lions shirt has now become the ultimate symbol of disrespect to Scotland. To little representation and some rediculous snubs – Balshaw/ Cueto over Paterson being the one that still stands out.

    It is the very antithesis of that ideal I once held and I hate it for what it has become.

    How on earth can anyone ask me to support that team now?

    1. Paterson? Dacey was more worthy. Cueto and Balshaw were ten times the player Paterson was. He wouldn’t have gotten 20 caps for any other home nation during that period.

      1. Dacey? Where did you get that name from? Did you mean D’Arcy, who was a centre and not full-back/wing, which were Paterson’s main positions internationally apart from when he was pressed into fly half in the days when we were very poor?
        Cueto and Balshaw both ten times better than CP? Do you have a mathematical formula to prove that, or are you simply just, well, simple?
        Paterson was, like a few others, a very good Scotland player in a not very good Test team over a number of years. Us Scots know that and accept it. If he’d not been a Scot, yeah, he might have ‘gotten’ a few caps for other countries. So your point is, what?

  36. I think there is another, less obvious silver lining. There are a number of talented Welsh players knocking on the door of the national team. Gatland, surely, has no option but to select his Lions en mass, assuming they are fit of course. We are first up in the 6N, so unless he discards a few if they get tanked in the Autumn games, then we have the perfect opportunity in Cardiff. I know which I would rather play, coming stars or Old Lions.

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