Great players never to play for the Lions

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Post by eirebilly on Wed 06 Feb 2019, 3:56 pm

Just seen this page and there are some very big names never to have represented the Lions. Names that I could almost swear they had.

https://lastwordonrugby.com/2019/02/05/greatest-players-never-to-wear-the-lions-jersey/?fbclid=IwAR1hTFWhVpYZfpyGuec2mdZfE-fiwWSjv2B5Wr3xRZUqoJhH9kEHPIlbBbE

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Post by LordDowlais on Wed 06 Feb 2019, 4:29 pm

If Jonathan Davies didn't go to league, then he would have had numerous Lions caps, but I suppose he can take solace in the fact that he represented GB in league numerous times, and that try against the Aussies at Wembley was a thing of beauty.

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Post by dummy_half on Wed 06 Feb 2019, 4:33 pm

LordDowlais wrote:If Jonathan Davies didn't go to league, then he would have had numerous Lions caps, but I suppose he can take solace in the fact that he represented GB in league numerous times, and that try against the Aussies at Wembley was a thing of beauty.

Unfortunately, I was in the opposite corner of the stadium. Did have a good view of Shaun Edwards high tackle early in the game for which he was sent off.

Anyone who think's Mako's 27 tackles in a game was impressive, check out the tackle stats of the GB hooker Lee Jackson in that GB v Aus test - iirc, he made 63 tackles in the game.

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Post by LordDowlais on Wed 06 Feb 2019, 4:42 pm

League used to be half decent in those days. OK

I took a massive interest in it as all the best Welsh players were playing for teams up north, and for GB. Also Sean Edwards, with his blonde hair. Laugh

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Post by lostinwales on Wed 06 Feb 2019, 4:47 pm

eirebilly wrote:Just seen this page and there are some very big names never to have represented the Lions. Names that I could almost swear they had.

https://lastwordonrugby.com/2019/02/05/greatest-players-never-to-wear-the-lions-jersey/?fbclid=IwAR1hTFWhVpYZfpyGuec2mdZfE-fiwWSjv2B5Wr3xRZUqoJhH9kEHPIlbBbE


I'll get killed for this but it's a very Welsh list. Of the two England players listed I can understand De Glanville not going but Probyn should have.

Otherwise longevity doesn't always equate to best available.

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Post by LondonTiger on Wed 06 Feb 2019, 5:15 pm

De Glanville was rarely first choice for England, and really should not be on this list. 

Gareth Llewellyn had a long Welsh career, but was in a pretty poor Welsh team and was some way below his peers who did travel.

Agree about Probyn being unlucky. He was beaten to a tour spot in 89 by Chilcott and Burnell and Wright of Scotland in 93. The Scots went so well that Jason Leonard played TH in tests 2 & 3. While he became a solid TH later in his career, the funbus was realky a LH covering.

Paterson was unlucky to be about the only pro player not to be selected by Woodward.

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Post by Cyril on Wed 06 Feb 2019, 5:36 pm

Stringer was a strange exclusion by SCW, especially considering Cooper and Cusiter were there along with Dawson and Peel.

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Post by Pot Hale on Wed 06 Feb 2019, 6:25 pm

I’m sure there’s lots of players who played a lot for their country and never got a Lions test cap - even if some of them went on a tour.

Never selected
Anthony Foley
Simon Geoghegan
David Humphreys
Peter Stringer
Andrew Trimble
Keith Gleeson
Girvan Dempsey
Kevin Maggs
Vic Costello
Conor O’Shea
Eric Elwood
Peter Clohessy


Toured but not picked for test matches
Rory Best
Gordon Darcy
Stephen Ferris
Mal O’Kelly
Denis Hickie
Mick Galwey

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Post by 123456789. on Wed 06 Feb 2019, 7:42 pm

I loved Paterson when he played but I'm not sure his mother would say he was "one of the greatest fly halves to grace the modern game", he was a very good player but almost undone by his utility. If he'd been allowed to be a fly-half he would have been a very good one. He was a very solid full back too. The Lions tours probably fell in the wrong years for him. In 2001 he would have been a bit young, by 2009 he wasn't always an automatic pick for the Scotland side. I'd say he arguably should have gone in 2005 but considering Scotland had won one Six Nations game out of 10 at that point and last beaten a home nation in 2003 he was always up against it. It's also bearing in mind the competition at that point Wales had Gareth Thomas, Ireland has Dempsey and Murphy and England still had Balshaw, Robinson and Lewsey. The best way of putting it was that he was probably the right player at the wrong time.

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Post by Cyril on Wed 06 Feb 2019, 9:48 pm

That’s a fair review for Paterson. Indeed it is for other players. Some of it is luck (injuries or form).

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Post by lostinwales on Wed 06 Feb 2019, 10:28 pm

And if you had a list of players who would have been great if they did not play for the Lions then Balshaw's name would be on it

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Post by Cyril on Wed 06 Feb 2019, 10:44 pm

Balshaw, yes. In position!

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Post by rodders on Thu 07 Feb 2019, 10:34 am

Pot Hale wrote:I’m sure there’s lots of players who played a lot for their country and never got a Lions test cap - even if some of them went on a tour.

Never selected
Anthony Foley
Simon Geoghegan
David Humphreys
Peter Stringer
Andrew Trimble
Keith Gleeson
Girvan Dempsey
Kevin Maggs
Vic Costello
Conor O’Shea
Eric Elwood
Peter Clohessy


Toured but not picked for test matches
Rory Best
Gordon Darcy
Stephen Ferris
Mal O’Kelly
Denis Hickie
Mick Galwey


In fairness Ferris got injured and looked almost certain to feature in the tests in 2009.

Iain Henderson was unlucky not to at least make the 23 on the last tour.

I'd add Eoin Reddan as well.
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Post by BamBam on Thu 07 Feb 2019, 10:47 am

I bloody loved Ferris, even though he was on the opposition. In my mind, the best 6 since Richard Hill

Balshaw was unreal for us before all the injuries, there was times in the early 2000s where we were slicing through teams at will and he was central to it. Its some of my earliest memories of English rugby, I'm off to youtube to reminisce

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Post by GeordieFalcon on Thu 07 Feb 2019, 12:28 pm

Gary Armstrong never played Lions...that's unbelievable.

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Post by Exiledinborders on Thu 07 Feb 2019, 12:32 pm

Amazingly Jamie Noon never played for the Lions Shocked

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Post by LondonTiger on Thu 07 Feb 2019, 12:37 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:Gary Armstrong never played Lions...that's unbelievable.

As the article says, selected but got injured.

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Post by maestegmafia on Thu 07 Feb 2019, 12:40 pm

LondonTiger wrote:
GeordieFalcon wrote:Gary Armstrong never played Lions...that's unbelievable.

As the article says, selected but got injured.

He would have been test 9 if he had of been fit. Great player

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Post by miaow on Thu 07 Feb 2019, 1:18 pm

Tomas O'Leary? Unbelievable form going into the SA tour and then never really recovered that level coming back fron injury.

I know this is done on longevity, and 'great' in that sense means more than just a few games, but as mentioned that seems to be a key criteria when it comes to the Lions.

Andy Powell put in one of the best performances I've seen from a #8 on his debut against SA in 08. No surprise, then, that he went on the Lions tour - but he was generally useless as a rugby player.

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Post by Exiledinborders on Thu 07 Feb 2019, 3:16 pm

BamBam wrote:I bloody loved Ferris, even though he was on the opposition. In my mind, the best 6 since Richard Hill
Agreed. A tasty player according to opponents such as Dylan Hartley.

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Post by robbo277 on Thu 07 Feb 2019, 3:26 pm

Hartley, Robshaw, Care and Brown have all done great things in an England shirt but have never made a Lions tour. Hartley nearly did but ruled himself out. The 3 Harlequins guys just found themselves on the outside looking in, although to be fair there have been some good players go in the last 3 years.

One that always surprised me was Delon Armitage not getting a look in for the 2009 tour. Bryne and Kearney went as the first two choices, but Armitage had a great 08/09 in a poor England team and could have gone instead of either of them or as a utility back, covering 13, wing, 15 and goal kicking. Didn't exactly back up his 2009 form afterwards though, but I think he was playing well enough to tour.

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Post by Rugby Fan on Thu 07 Feb 2019, 3:35 pm

robbo277 wrote:One that always surprised me was Delon Armitage not getting a look in for the 2009 tour. Bryne and Kearney went as the first two choices, but Armitage had a great 08/09 in a poor England team and could have gone instead of either of them or as a utility back, covering 13, wing, 15 and goal kicking.
I remember thinking that at the time too. I couldn't see why Earls was selected, as he didn't seem good enough in any of his positions. Now, of course, we know what the coaches saw in Earls but I'd probably still rather have had Armitage in South Africa, especially since his goal kicking woud have been even more effective at altititude. As it turned out, Kearney and Byrne both had great tours.

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Post by rodders on Thu 07 Feb 2019, 4:56 pm

Mike Tindall??
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Post by lostinwales on Thu 07 Feb 2019, 5:06 pm

robbo277 wrote:Hartley, Robshaw, Care and Brown have all done great things in an England shirt but have never made a Lions tour. Hartley nearly did but ruled himself out. The 3 Harlequins guys just found themselves on the outside looking in, although to be fair there have been some good players go in the last 3 years.

One that always surprised me was Delon Armitage not getting a look in for the 2009 tour. Bryne and Kearney went as the first two choices, but Armitage had a great 08/09 in a poor England team and could have gone instead of either of them or as a utility back, covering 13, wing, 15 and goal kicking. Didn't exactly back up his 2009 form afterwards though, but I think he was playing well enough to tour.

In 2013 the game vs Wales seemed to be an excuse to not pick them. Brown was the form fullback though and should have gone. I'd have picked the other Brown (K) for that Lions tour too, as well as or instead of Robshaw.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Thu 07 Feb 2019, 5:09 pm

Brown should have but was playing on the wing that tournament. Easy excuse not to pick him.

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Post by Collapse2005 on Thu 07 Feb 2019, 5:16 pm

Simon Geoghegan for me is the best player not to make it.

Chris Robshaw probably a bit unlucky to miss out.

No Welsh players on the list from the last few tours as they are more likely to have made it undeservedly than the other way round.

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Post by BamBam on Thu 07 Feb 2019, 5:30 pm

Lol, who could forget the time Dan Lydiate made it on tour ahead of Robshaw and Brown Laugh

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Thu 07 Feb 2019, 5:32 pm

I mean none of these are great players in the scheme of things just players who shouldn't have missed out.

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Post by LondonTiger on Thu 07 Feb 2019, 5:47 pm

BamBam wrote:Lol, who could forget the time Dan Lydiate made it on tour ahead of Robshaw and Brown Laugh

I was going to post something funny about Mike Brown and his abilities at 6, until I realised you meant Kelly Brown. TBH the selection of Tom Croft in 2013 was probably worse. He had spent so much time out injured that only a good end to the season saw him selected. That he then played the first test was crazy.

Lydiate is and was a one dimensional player, but what he did, he did to a very high standard and it worked well in conjunction with Warburton. It was not really him that kept Robshaw out anyway. SOB and Tipuric also toured each offering something different at 7. Biggest problem for Robshaw was that he was a national captain in the same position as the tour captain.

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Post by BamBam on Thu 07 Feb 2019, 5:57 pm

Wasn't Lydiate coming off a long term injury at the time? I forgot Croft was even there tbh, you're right that was probably worse

I will go down arguing to my last that the 30-3 game influenced far too many selection decisions for that tour

Reckon Mike Brown would make a fine 6 if he put his mind to it

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Post by mikey_dragon on Thu 07 Feb 2019, 5:59 pm

LondonTiger wrote:
BamBam wrote:Lol, who could forget the time Dan Lydiate made it on tour ahead of Robshaw and Brown Laugh

I was going to post something funny about Mike Brown and his abilities at 6, until I realised you meant Kelly Brown. TBH the selection of Tom Croft in 2013 was probably worse. He had spent so much time out injured that only a good end to the season saw him selected. That he then played the first test was crazy.

Lydiate is and was a one dimensional player, but what he did, he did to a very high standard and it worked well in conjunction with Warburton. It was not really him that kept Robshaw out anyway. SOB and Tipuric also toured each offering something different at 7. Biggest problem for Robshaw was that he was a national captain in the same position as the tour captain.

Yeah that and the fact he didn’t know a penalty kick at goal was worth just 3 points.

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Post by LondonTiger on Thu 07 Feb 2019, 6:16 pm

Thought that happened later mikey

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Post by miaow on Thu 07 Feb 2019, 6:28 pm

Alternatively, those English players collectively buckled under pressure. Not a good mindset going into the heat of a Lions tour. As showed in 2015, they still hadn't got their mindset right - a lot of that not jut individual, but the context does matter. Selection isn't a computer game, you can't just look at the stats or try to compare players like for like; as mentioned, Lydiate is very limited (Cuthbert too) yet they really offer something to a team when playing well, and in the case of the former complement other key players.

The issue with players like K Brown and Robshaw is there have been some quality back row options in all 4 nations for a while now. Players like Denton, the small openside who retired early through injury (forget his name, botched a 2 on 1, blonde/brown hair), Strokosch for Scotland - all could have been in with a shout. Same with the other 3 teams.

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Post by mikey_dragon on Thu 07 Feb 2019, 6:33 pm

LondonTiger wrote:Thought that happened later mikey

I thought it was before, England lost to SA and Aus, and then beat NZ; before entering the 6N where the end result is one you’ve already spoken of. Either way I rate Robshaw highly.

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Post by LondonTiger on Thu 07 Feb 2019, 6:36 pm

You may be right

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Post by Collapse2005 on Thu 07 Feb 2019, 7:16 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:I mean none of these are great players in the scheme of things just players who shouldn't have missed out.

Hmm you dont think Geoghegan was great? I do.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Thu 07 Feb 2019, 7:21 pm

I meant the ones around gatland s choices. I didn't follow rugby until 2004 ish to be able to have an opinion of Geoghegan. I also obviously missed the good times to be an England fan.

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Post by Collapse2005 on Thu 07 Feb 2019, 7:22 pm

Really. I didnt. I loved watching early 90s England and France. Unreal.

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Post by Collapse2005 on Thu 07 Feb 2019, 7:23 pm

and Scotland too.

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Post by Rugby Fan on Fri 08 Feb 2019, 3:19 am

miaow wrote:...the small openside who retired early through injury...
Maybe Ross Rennie? Thought he was a great player.

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Post by miaow on Fri 08 Feb 2019, 7:58 am

Yeah that was it. Can't find the botched pass but it's mentioned in this match report: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/16863670

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Post by rodders on Fri 08 Feb 2019, 10:25 am

Collapse2005 wrote:Simon Geoghegan for me is the best player not to make it.

I agree but which tour, his Ireland career was over by 1997, was he injured in 1993?

Certainly 1994-96 he was right up there with the best wingers in the 5N, just with injury and playing in a poor team he never had the consistency of Underwood or Evans despite being capable of getting the best of them when fit.

For sure in a better team he'd have scored 3 times as many tries, he was lightening quick.

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/rugby-union-five-nations-focus-geoghegan-back-to-speed-tim-glover-talks-to-irelands-flying-machine-1478935.html
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Post by LondonTiger on Fri 08 Feb 2019, 10:38 am

Geoghegan was rather controversially left out in 93. Rumour has it that an outburst in the changing room followed by an interview about the state of Irish rugby saw him get on the wrong side of the blazers.

https://www.balls.ie/rugby/358044-358044

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Post by rodders on Fri 08 Feb 2019, 2:34 pm

Heard about that but assumed that was later in his career...
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Post by 123456789. on Fri 08 Feb 2019, 4:23 pm

At lot of the Lions seems to be about being in the right place at the right time, I remember being gutted after the 2013 Wales pummelling of England because it gave Gatland a license to pick basically a Welsh team with a few players added in here and there. Fair play to him, it worked and he was probably right to do so. Wales were the best team at the time. Scotland had a number of players then, as they did in 2017 that were in with a shout. The fact is however that most of our top players haven't played in the Champions cup finals, the Six Nations Deciders and the three match series in the Southern Hemisphere. So when it comes to neck and neck calls it's always going to go against our boys and in truth Gatland has been vindicated by winning in 2013 and drawing in 2017. I think Furlong may have been the only player in the third test team not to have won the Six Nations by that point.

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Post by Collapse2005 on Fri 08 Feb 2019, 4:56 pm

He may not have won the six nations but he had already won a test against NZ.

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Post by miaow on Fri 08 Feb 2019, 5:00 pm

Interestingly, if the Lions don't go for Gatland in 2021 (I think there's a good possibility he might end up getting it, but if he doesn't...) I wonder if we'll see a return to the 'old' style of selection i.e. fewer calls based on the coach's specific wants and systems, as well as national parternships in 50:50 calls. Now I actually don't think there were many players in either Lions tour who made it because of 'Welsh bias', but then you look at some Scottish players like Finn Russell or whoever and many coaches would have chosen him over Biggar in 2017, just because of what he offered.

And if the Lions do have a coach who takes a different approach, how will that change things in terms of success? You get the feeling that the horse has bolted in this day and age - you can't have the Lions being a glorified Babas team anymore, you have to go in with a 'Team Lions' mentality and have a good idea of your team before you set off. Something to look out for anyway.

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Post by The Great Aukster on Fri 08 Feb 2019, 5:36 pm

Geoghan's face didn't fit and that's the overriding Lions' selection criterion. The marketeers can't risk a loose cannon firing unsanctioned sound bites at their media.

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Post by TJ on Fri 08 Feb 2019, 6:20 pm

Jason White.  Absolutly top back row at the top of his game and never selected IIRC

Loads of Scots over the last few tours who were hard done by

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Post by 123456789. on Fri 08 Feb 2019, 6:41 pm

I think Jason White went in 2005 did he not?

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