Ford Stays On The Bench

No sign of big Nathan sadly, but with Shaw’s phenomenal performance last week it is understandable. Less understandable is bringing Worsley in at 6. Both Flutey and Bowe have looked fairly sharp this tour so it will be interesting to see if they can even approach the heights of Roberts/O’Driscoll’s pairing. I hope Ross Ford gets a chance for a bit of a run just to show there were some Scots on what has been a pretty good tour. Here’s hoping the boys can salvage some pride with a victory over a good South African team (and their idiotic coach) – there is no way they should be two tests down, and yet there it is, 2-0 on the score sheet. Such is sport.

British & Irish Lions versus South Africa on Saturday 4th July

15. Rob Kearney (Leinster/Ireland)
14. Ugo Monye (Harlequins/England)
13. Tommy Bowe (Ospreys/Ireland)
12. Riki Flutey (London Wasps/England)
11. Shane Williams (Ospreys/Wales)
10. Stephen Jones (Scarlets/Wales)
9. Mike Phillips (Ospreys/Wales)
8. Jamie Heaslip (Leinster/Ireland)
7. Martyn Williams (Cardiff Blues/Wales)
6. Joe Worsley (London Wasps/England)
5. Paul O’Connell (Munster/Ireland) Captain
4. Simon Shaw (London Wasps/England)
3. Phil Vickery (London Wasps/England)
2. Matthew Rees (Scarlets/Wales)
1. Andrew Sheridan (Sale Sharks/England)

Replacements:
16. Ross Ford (Edinburgh/Scotland)
17. John Hayes (Munster/Ireland)
18. Alun-Wyn Jones (Ospreys/Wales)
19. David Wallace (Munster/Ireland)
20. Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers/England)
21. Harry Ellis (Leicester Tigers/England)
22. James Hook (Ospreys/Wales)

Sorry…

…for not spouting any of my rubbish lately, I was down in London with Al checking out the Boss at Hyde Park – awesome show. However we did find time to take in the second Lions test in a pub in Putney, an area riddled with South Africans it seems. Good times were had by all, although that was about as gutted as I have been after a game of rugby (save for getting pumped out of the RWC by the Argies), yet mixed with a curious elation at having seen such a decent game of rugby. Say what you like about the Lions (I see the commenters have been busy) but that was as fine a game of actual rugby as I have seen in a test match for many a year, and for promoting such an approach Geech and his team are to be applauded. Shout out to pub pundit and all round drunk South African Phillip Le Roux (and mates) who bravely recommended betting all our money on the Lions third test victory. Remains to be seen what is left of the team, of course…

Lions vs Springboks 2nd Test Teams

SCOT MAKES THE BENCH SHOCKER

Well done to Ross Ford who probably showed enough in his game on Tuesday to sneak on to the bench. Monye ruthlessly punished for missing his chances on Saturday. It’s all on the line now. Apart from Ellis, it’s a pretty strong bench too. Sorry to see Hook miss out as I think he’s looked sharp and welsh “wizard” Shane Williams is given one last chance…

Lions: Kearney, Bowe, O’ Driscoll, Roberts, Fitzgerald, Jones , Phillips,  Jenkins,  Rees,  A Jones, Shaw, O’Connell, Croft, Wallace, Heaslip

Replacements: Ford, Sheridan, Wyn Jones, Williams, Ellis, O’Gara, S Williams

Schalk “Cheese” Burger has been brought back in for the impressive Broussow, otherwise the frontline team remains pretty much as is.

South Africa: F Steyn (Sharks); JP Pietersen (Sharks), A Jacobs (Sharks), J de Villiers (Stormers), B Habana (Bulls); R Pienaar (Sharks), F du Preez (Bulls); T Mtawarira (Sharks), B du Plessis (Sharks), J Smit (Sharks), B Botha (Bulls), V Matfield (Bulls), S Burger (Stormers), J Smith (Cheetahs), P Spies (Bulls).

Replacements: C Ralepelle (Bulls), D Carstens (Sharks), A Bekker (Stormers), D Rossouw (Bulls), H Brussow (Cheetahs), J Fourie (Lions), M Steyn (Bulls).

Hines Gets 1 Week Ban

Scottish Lion big Nathan is once again in the headlines for a dangerous tackle. Can’t have been that bad as I didn’t even notice it but according to the BBC breaking news he will serve a one week ban, taking him out of the second Test vs South Africa. Doubtful he would have been selected ahead of O Callaghan or Shaw who now seem to be front runners to take over from Wyn Jones. The team announcement has been moved to tomorrow.

A Scot With Killer Instinct?

Not rugby related, but good luck to Andy Murray as he kicks off his Wimbledon campaign today. Al played his brother once in a junior tournament in Inverness we think. Humpings all round. Back with Lions etc tomorrow. Heard rumblings in the Sunday Times that ex-Bristol man Richard Hill and shatterer of our World Cup dreams Marcelo Lloffreda are interested in the vacant Edinburgh post… also the SRU are re-creating the Director of Rugby to supervise development and hunt for Kiwis with Scottish grannies, but hopefully not interfere with the national team.

Shaw Sliding Towards Test XV?

What with Donnacha and Nathan both starting here. Could be a fun game, but it’s still pretty obviously the dirt-trackers. Hopefully Hooky and Blair get another run from the bench…

British & Irish Lions versus Emerging Springboks on Tuesday 22nd June

15. Keith Earls (Munster/Ireland)
14. Shane Williams (Ospreys/Wales)
13. Riki Flutey (London Wasps/England)
12. Gordon D’Arcy (Leinster/Ireland)
11. Luke Fitzgerald (Leinster/Ireland)
10. Ronan O’Gara (Munster/Ireland) Captain
9. Harry Ellis (Leicester Tigers/England)
8. Andy Powell (Cardiff Blues/Wales)
7. Martyn Williams (Cardiff Blues/Wales)
6. Joe Worsley (London Wasps/England)
5. Nathan Hines (Perpignan/Scotland)
4. Donncha O’Callaghan (Munster/Ireland)
3. John Hayes (Munster/Ireland)
2. Ross Ford (Edinburgh/Scotland)
1. Tim Payne (London Wasps/England)

Replacements:
16. Lee Mears (Bath/England)
17. Phil Vickery (London Wasps/England)
18. Simon Shaw (London Wasps/England)
19. David Wallace (Munster/Ireland)
20. Mike Blair (Edinburgh/Scotland)
21. James Hook (Ospreys/Wales)
22. Ugo Monye (Harlequins/England)

Scotland A-Team Wins, Lions Almost Do

Some good games at the weekend there including a solid result for Andy Robinson’s A Team which saw the Scots win their first piece of silverware in years. Rumours of Ruaridh Jackson’s kicking game going AWOL were put to rest with his kicking from tee easing the Scots into a solid lead before some sloppy play at the breakdown let the French back in. Eventually though a nifty wee offload from Ben Cairns put Richie Vernon over the line to seal the victory, and the trophy. Some of the players (like captain Chris Cusiter) will have done their chances of a return to full national honours no harm. Congratulations to the whole squad and coaching staff.

Next up for Robinson is Fiji in the autumn, and his job truly begins. But for now, most of Scotland’s players find their seasons at an end – time for a holiday.

Apart, of course from the doughty Scots holding up the tail end of the Lions squad, who may yet have a role to play. A great – if wildly inconsistent test match on Saturday saw the Lions blown off the park in the first half, only to run back on and do the same to the Springboks for most of the second half. What a difference a scrum makes, and Euan Murray must consider himself very unlucky to pick up an injury at the exact moment his services are required. The bulk of Hines could also be used in the second row. Mike Phillips did little wrong apart from going the same way too often but Blair could be lucky and see the bench in the remaining Test matches. The Lions could definitely have won that test match, but can they win the next one? The challenge will only increase as the Boks aim to plug the holes in their defence left by our centres and will probably leave their front-line troops on the pitch until the game is definitely won, rather than until they think it is won.

Jackson Gets The Nod at 10

Young Glasgow flyhalf Ruaridh Jackson has been handed the 10 shirt for Scotland A’s crunch decider against France A in Romania. Victory would see the Scots take home the IRB Nations Cup and add a first piece of silverware to Andy Robinson’s shelf at SRU HQ. Two of Robbo’s new “finds” Joe Ansbros start, with Ansbro moved to the wing to allow Ben Cairns to continue his partnership with in-form Alex Grove – keeping the likes of Rob Dewey and Nick De Luca out of this crunch encounter.

Scotland A Team to face France A: Jim Thompson (Edinburgh), John Houston (Edinburgh), Ben Cairns (Edinburgh), Alex Grove (Worcester Warriors) , Simon Webster (Edinburgh), Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), Chris Cusiter (Perpignan) CAPTAIN, Kyle Traynor (Edinburgh), Scott Lawson (Gloucester), Geoff Cross (Edinburgh), Craig Hamilton (Edinburgh), Al Kellock (Glasgow Warriors), Kelly Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Alan MacDonald (Edinburgh Rugby), Richie Vernon (Glasgow Warriors)

Replacements: Andrew Kelly (Edinburgh), Moray Low (Glasgow Warriors), James Eddie (Glasgow Warriors), Calum Forrester (Glasgow Warriors), Rory Lawson (Gloucester), David Blair (Edinburgh), Nick De Luca (Edinburgh)

Some Lions Factoids

In honour of what we hope will be a great test match today, some Lions ‘did you know’ facts in relation to the first Test side announced today, courtesy of the Lions press department…

David Wallace is all set to follow in the footsteps of his elder brother Paul by playing against the Springboks for the British & Irish Lions in a Test match.

Back in 1997, Paul was one of the shock inclusions in the Test pack to take on the reigning world champions. Twelve years on it will be Munster flanker David’s turn to tackle to current holders of the Rugby World Cup.

Paul made his debut in a 25-16 victory at Newlands, Cape Town, while David’s big day will be at the ABSA Stadium in Durban this weekend. He will be one of 10 Lions making their Test debuts in the starting line-up.

It will be only the fourth test between the Springboks and the Lions in Durban and Paul O’Connell’s men will be looking to make it 2-2. The Boks were 7-3 winners in 1924 and then triumphed 3-0 in 1962.

Martin Johnson’s side clinched the series at King’s Park, now the ABSA Stadium, in 1997 when they won the second test 18-15. Five penalties from the boot of Neil Jenkins and a drop goal from Jeremy Guscott clinched a famous victory – and series triumph.

They say that winning the first Test in any series is vital and the statistics back up that statement. This will be the 13th series played between the Springboks and Lions in South Africa and the side that won the first Test has gone on to take the series nine times previously.

The 1891, 1896, 1974 and 1997 Lions all won the first Test and then the series, while the Springboks did the same in 1910, 1924, 1938, 1968 and 1980. The odd years out were 1903 and 1962, when the first games were drawn, and 1955.

In both 1903 and 1962 the Springboks went on to clinch the series’ while in 1955 the Lions triumphed in Johannesburg before sharing the series 2-2.

The breakdown of the countries and clubs from which the Lions Test team is drawn is as follows. In the starting XV, there are 6 Welsh, 5 Irish and 4 English players. In the 22 those numbers rise to 9 Welsh, 8 Irish and 5 English.

On the club front, the Ospreys have four in the starting XV and five overall. Cardiff Blues, Leinster and Munster have two each in the starting line-up, while Munster have two more among the replacements and the others one more each.

For three players in the Lions 22 for Durban it will be their first chance to face the Springboks. Ospreys and Ireland wing Tommy Bowe, Leinster and Ireland No 8 Jamie Heaslip and full back Rob Kearney have yet to meet the world champions.

On the other hand, England prop Phil Vickery will be packing down against them for an 11th time. He has a 50% record to date and will be hoping to go into credit with a sixth win at the weekend.

Scarlets and Wales outside half has scored 60 points against South Africa, but yet to taste victory in six outings. He made his debut against the Springboks in Pretoria in 1998 when he came on as a replacement in Wales’ record 96-13 defeat.

02 Scrum on the Beach Video

Anyone for beach rugby? Although I am sure at this point Al would point out the irony in having Paul Sackey as the lazy one sitting about while the others play…

Lions Test Team To Face South Africa

British and Irish Lions: Lee Byrne, Tommy Bowe, Brian O’ Driscoll, Jamie Roberts, Ugo Monye, Stephen Jones, Mike Phillips, Jamie Heaslip, Paul Wallace, Tom Croft, Paul O’Connell, Alun Wyn Jones, Phil Vickery, Lee Mears, Gethin Jenkins

Replacements: Matthew Rees, Adam Jones, Donnacha O’ Callaghan, Martyn Williams, Harry Ellis, Ronan O’ Gara, Rob Kearney

Pretty much as expected although not maybe as we might have hoped, with the exception of O’ Callaghan on the bench. Shaw and Hines are unlucky to miss out.

So that’s a Jones count of 3, a Phil and a Phillips, a Rob and a Roberts, two Toms, two Pauls and two Jamies, one Ugo and one Gethin on which the hopes of these small islands are pinned. And of course not a Scot in sight, but other than Nathan we can’t really complain based on form shown…

And just for balance, here is the South African team:

South Africa: Francois Steyn; JP Pietersen, Adrian Jacobs, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana; Ruan Pienaar, Fourie du Preez; Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, John Smit, Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield, Heinrich Brussow, Juan Smith, Pierre Spies.
Replacements: Gurthro Steenkamp, Deon Carstens, Andries Bekker, Danie Rossouw, Ricky Januarie, Jaque Fourie, Morne Steyn.

In announcing the team, Geech also mentioned that Euan Murray’s injury should keep him out beyond the tour, so they may look for a replacement. Unlikely to be a Scot though, so our representation back down to 3. Hooky is still in with a shout if he recovers from his head knock.