Nope, it’s not a very late April fool. Let’s talk Lions, if for no other reason than to keep specific commenters from posting Lions teams on unrelated posts.
And now, well, because we have to: it has been announced today that Gregor Townsend and Steve Tandy will join the (still to be confirmed) tour, as Warren Gatland’s Attack and Defence coaches respectively.
With Robin McBryde (Leinster, bur he’s Welsh) and Neil Jenkins (none more Welsh) rounding out the management group, there will be no Irish or English coaching representation in the touring party though of course, McBryde will be very familiar with a number of the Irish players.
Townsend will be the first Scottish coach on a tour since Ian McGeechan in 2009 and has also experienced a memorable series win in South Africa as a player in 1997.
Despite finishing fourth, that was a strong Six Nations tournament for Scotland and the away wins in Paris should go a long way to answering the question about Scottish mindsets in those situations. Certainly, the way the Scottish defence has turned around since RWC 2019 owes huge amount of credit both to Tandy (and Chris Harris, sorry troops), but also to Townsend who recognised there were issues there and at the set-piece and made moves to address them.
The selection debate will continue to rage (we picked our Lions XV on a recent podcast), but Hamish Watson definitely did enough to silence his doubters. Any talk of him being lightweight or not good enough needs to take off their blinkers and actually look at who the best performing 7s of the tournament were (hint: not Tom Curry, S Jones). And now with two coaches to fight his corner, there is a possibility (often discussed on the podcast) that Scotland finally has a voice in selection meetings (even if one of them speaks with a Welsh accent).
“One of the great challenges of a Lions Tour is to bring together players from four different countries, in a short space of time, and create an attacking threat that will cause the opposition problems. It’s something I am already looking forward to.”Gregor Townsend
It does of course mean that already underrated Scottish efforts will be under the microscope – especially if our level of representation shoots up suddenly and the tour doesn’t go as well, but all we’ve asked for is a chance to show that our lads have some quality about them and this is now a good platform to showcase it.
And so what – if they pick their favourites and English rugby journalism throws their collective toys from the pram? Well, we know how that feels. They’re already describing it as the second choice coaching lineup.
Are we about to fall back in love with the Lions – or are we going to sneak off in the morning and block their number, never to call them back?
You may commence discussions below.