You probably know this joke –
A man walks into a building site’s foreman’s office. He says “The sign outside says you need a handyman.”
“That’s right,” says the foreman. “Can you lay bricks?”
“No, I can’t do that.”
“Can you mix concrete?”
“No, never done that.”
“Know any plumbing?”
“Are you an electrician?”
“Well,” says the puzzled foreman. “You can’t do much, so what makes you so damned handy then?”
“I only live around the corner.”
This is quite funny unless you’re Cian Healy, Joe Launchbury, Devin Toner or Dylan Hartley and probably a few others who were deemed to be in the wrong place.
Today was a significant one for Lions rugby – and I don’t mean the excellent win in Rotorua (see ‘Pack Power’ post below).
June 17th 2017 will go down as the infamous day when the Lions shirt was devalued.
Warren Gatland called up 6 players as cover – not based on the most deserving but on where they happened to go to kip last night.
Gatland explained that his decision to choose 6 players from the Wales and Scotland tours was all to do with acclimatisation – and since the next game is Tuesday he might have a point. However he went on to say that this was always his plan to add players at the halfway stage.
If that was the case why didn’t he pick the best and send for them last week when they could have come from anywhere.
Eddie Jones “The Lions is a prestigious team – when you become a Lion, you’re remembered for life. My only comment would be I would like to see it picked on merit rather than geographical proximity.”
However, Gatland has claimed since September that this was always a consideration to bring in reinforcements even if there were not many injuries, although it has drawn public criticism with England and Ireland players overlooked simply due to the travelling time it would take to fly their players over from Argentina and Japan respectively
Former players too are angry too
Former Lions Ben Kay, Ugo Monye and Craig Chalmers echoed Jones.
Kay said players should have to earn their promotion.
“It is harsh on those like [Dylan] Hartley and Joe Launchbury, who were next in line on merit, to miss out on Lions selection just because England are on the other side of the world.
“Jonny Gray can feel unfortunate too, given what he has achieved with Glasgow Warriors and Scotland over the last couple of years – and he is in Australia.”
As Ian McGeechan said, with barely disguised anger, this devalues the Lions jersey and all those who treasure having been selected – now and before.
He also pointed out the danger of some of those brought in as an expedient could end up on the bench or playing in the tests if there are more injuries to the expected 23 for the series.
Player after player over the years has said that being selected for the Lions was the pinnacle of their rugby career – no one mentioned it had anything to do with being ‘handy’.
This morning Gatland may have hammered a long nail into the demise of the Lions by selecting based on geography not merit.
Having been involved in 2013 you would have thought he had some idea of the responsibility of wearing the Lions shirt – apparently not.
The view may well be that if the series is won then this will be forgotten – and possibly forgiven – well, not by me – and I suspect not by Joe, Cian, Devin or Dylan – there will be others including Jonny Gray who will justifiably feel the same.
A very sad day for the Lions, despite what those (deserving) players did so well in Rotorua this morning.