The British Lions squad is up in the air at this moment – at least I hope they are.
If they booked on British Airways it is quite likely that they are still sitting on their bags in a queue at Heathrow, Thankfully I think they flew Qantas!
If you follow the NZ media there is already a lot of nonsense being sprayed around about Warren Gatland and his selections – although that is only to be expected I suppose.
The worst of the coverage though is the articles on the 2005 tour. It was a disaster and to be fair that is correct. What isn’t balanced however are the suggestions that Kevin Mealamu and Tana Umuga were innocent and victims of unfair coverage in the British and Irish media.
Mealamu has actually written that it was used unfairly by the Lions to detract from the performance of the ABs!
One media outlet dismissed the incident as simply a ‘bung shoulder’ for O’Driscoll and not an off the ball double spear tackle – it went on to suggest that BOD and the management “squealed like stuck piglets”. I wonder if they’ll be saying the same if Beauden Barrett gets taken out illegally off the ball?
But I may well be biased of course – judge for yourselves if this was just an accident – the amateur footage at the end is the most revealing –
An independent citing commissioner ruled that the All Black pair had no case to answer, further angering O’Driscoll and then Lions coach Clive Woodward.
Presumably this was Stevie Wonder!
On a more positive note there have been a couple of balanced articles that look forward to the tour.
One points out that it is probably the hardest itinerary ever undertaken by any touring side anywhere –
“I think it’s probably the most difficult itinerary in the history of rugby union,” Henry told me. “There is no harder itinerary than this one. They’re virtually playing nine test matches – the five franchises, New Zealand Maori and the three tests. The (Kiwi franchises are head and shoulders above the other franchises around the Sanzaar nations. They’re very good teams with no pressure on them.” Graham Henry
The best report though comes from Gregor Paul in the New Zealand Herald –
What the host nation will find is that their visitors haven’t changed a bit. There will be no edge among the Lions supporters. They will be here for a good time. Yes, they want their side to win, but no matter if they don’t. The party will go on, New Zealand will still be beautiful and the money in their pockets will still need to be spent.
Steve Hansen has given his own view of the problems facing the Lions – beyond facing the best sporting team on the planet that is –
Hansen believes that is insufficient time to prepare, claiming the All Blacks would never have agreed to a schedule where they arrived in a country any less than a week before their first match.
“You’d want to be there a week at the minimum,” Hansen, told The Times. “It’s nicer to be longer than that. When we tour we have total control over when we leave the country.”
Total control eh? I just hope the Lions administrators take note – If the Lions do manage to win the series, or even one test then it will be despite the admin blokes and certainly not because of them!