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The Lions Schedule is Up and it's Insane - Time to Get Rid?

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Post by yappysnap Fri 13 Nov 2015, 8:55 am

From The Rugby Paper


146049558DR066_Australia_v_by Nick Cain

The 2017 Lions should be history-makers, with a mission to become the first Lions side of the professional era to win a series against the All Blacks. That would make them only the third Lions side to emerge triumphant from New Zealand in the 127-year history of the world’s greatest touring team, following in the footsteps of their forebears in 1888 and 1971.

However, although the Lions deserve to be on an upward trajectory after the 2013 series triumph in Australia, with an even greater prize on offer in New Zealand two years from now, The Rugby Paper has learnt that they will again be handicapped massively. The 2017 Lions will embark on a far more difficult tour than they faced two years ago in Australia with virtually no preparation time and with many players leaving for New Zealand only 48-hours after playing in Premiership and Pro12 finals, where they will face the most brutal schedule the host nation has been able to put together.

Worse still, they will have been sabotaged from within, even more effectively than by the NZRFU’s unforgiving tour itinerary, which culminates in three Tests against the world champion All Blacks. We have learned that a Lions request that the tour should start a week later to enable the squad to have seven days of preparation before the opening match against a Provincial Union XV – with that game on June 10 rather than June 3, and the last Test on July 15 rather than July 8 – was torpedoed by Premiership Rugby (PRL).

PRL have said that the decision to oppose any changes to the tour dates has been taken in the interests of player welfare. A spokesman told us: “We felt it was a player welfare issue, and that the end of the tour would be too close to the start of the new season.” The Premiership Rugby decision is unbelievably myopic in its self-interest. It is not as if the Premiership is ignorant of the Lions landscape, or the landmark benefits of a successful Lions tour to Rugby Union throughout the Home Nations.

The schedule foisted on the Lions officials – and agreed to – has also been met with incredulity. In a five-week period it includes matches against all five Kiwi Super Rugby franchises, as well as the New Zealand Maori, going into the three Test series.

Triumph: Jamie Roberts holds the Tom Richards trophy aloft after success in Australia in 2013 (Picture: Getty Images)
Triumph: Jamie Roberts holds the Tom Richards trophy aloft after success in Australia in 2013 (Picture: Getty Images)

The victorious 2013 Lions head coach, Warren Gatland, spoke for many when he commented, “Whoever agreed to that schedule from the Lions point of view, it’s crazy”. Gatland, a New Zealander with inside knowledge of what confronts the tourists, added: “I don’t see how you could even win that. You’re playing five Super Rugby sides, the New Zealand Maori, and three Tests – and another game – all in a five-week period.”

It is also extraordinary that Gatland does not appear to have been consulted by the Lions officials who negotiated the unforgiving schedule.

The lack of communication, and co-operation between the Home Unions, and between club and country – especially in England – is nothing short of staggering given the enormous benefits to the game here should the Lions beat New Zealand again.

There seems to be no understanding, either, that the 1971 Lions tour (and its 1974 counterpart in South Africa) did more to promote, popularise and revolutionise Rugby Union in the UK and Ireland – and in New Zealand, where they rediscovered back play – than any single event before the advent of the World Cup in 1987.

The Lions magic has endured into the pro era with more than 30,000 fans making the trip Down Under in 2013, just as they did to South Africa (1997 and 2009). However, before the 2013 Lions departed for Australia, the tour manager, Andy Irvine, identified the need to modernise and recommended far-reaching changes to the side’s preparation. He called the concept of players setting off on the tour less than 48 hours after they had played in showpiece Premiership and Pro12 finals as “ridiculous”.

He flagged-up that the Home Unions committee agreement, drawn up to cover Lions tours from 2001 to 2017, was outmoded and detrimental to the touring side, and advocated strongly that no tour should depart after 2017 without all the players having at least two weeks preparation time together.

Given those recommendations, and the fact that the Lions tour is worth £150m to the host nation in tourist spend, including travel, tickets and accommodation – the Australian Union alone made £40m from the 2013 tour, enabling them to wipe out a £12.2m debt – you would think that it would not be beyond the wit of Lions officials, and those of the RFU and Premiership Rugby, to come up with a solution.

This would inevitably involve compensation to the English clubs – and their Welsh, Irish and Scots counterparts – for the extra week that they would have to wait before the players selected by the Lions were available to them at the start of the following season. However, given that the touring side made a profit estimated at £7m from the 2013 tour, on top of a £4m surplus in 2009, and that the Lions have the best-selling shirt brand in world rugby, an agreement should have been a formality.

The leverage the Lions financial clout gives them should also have been a winning hand in negotiations with New Zealand. Even if the Lions officials had their hands tied until the tour agreement ends after 2017, they should have made it clear to the New Zealand RFU chief executive, Steve Tew, that flexibility on the part of the host nation regarding the itinerary, and any scheduling changes, would put New Zealand in a favourable position regarding future tours of that country.

If push came to shove, and New Zealand did not budge, the Lions chief executive, John Feehan, should not have hesitated in telling them that Argentina and France would be looked at as favourable new destinations, meaning that their chances of hosting the Lions again might not come around for another 20 years.

The fact that the Lions officials have so far allowed this tour to be hamstrung (again) could be catastrophic for the touring side. The attitude appears to be that the Lions muddled through in Australia in 2013, and they can do it again, when, in reality, their chances of winning a series in New Zealand have been diminished massively by administrative bungling.

The tragedy is that, with a more level playing field, the Lions are capable of shaking the world order by beating the double world champions. It may seem like wishful-thinking following the gap that the All Blacks put between themselves and the chasing pack at this World Cup, but there are plenty of reasons for believing that New Zealand could be vulnerable given a level surface, especially in terms of preparation.

To start with, while New Zealand’s 2015 World Cup legacy is glowing, the Lions also have an impressive legacy to build from. The best building block is that as many as 12 of the Test side that beat the Wallabies are still likely to be available, including the Welsh talisman who led the 2013 campaign, Sam Warburton, and his outstanding team-mate Alun Wyn Jones. So too, is Gatland, the Wales coach who masterminded the victory that restored the pride in the Lions.

More importantly, the much-trumpeted demise of Northern Hemisphere rugby based on none of the Home Unions making the last four of the World Cup speaks more of headline hot-air than cold scrutiny. The reality is that Wales and Ireland went out because of a combination of depletion – as a result of savagely-timed injury culls – and a lack of deep enough reserves at Test level.

However, they did not go quietly, and with any luck the likes of Jonathan Davies, Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb will be restored to fitness well before the Lions selection process starts a year from now. By that time, England may be in a better place to contribute Lions-class backs, with George Ford, Henry Slade, Jonathan Joseph and Anthony Watson stating their cases. Up-and-coming Scottish backs like Finn Russell and Mark Bennett, and forwards like Jonny Gray, will also have a say.

All over: Beauden Barrett scores the All Blacks third try in RWC final
All over: Beauden Barrett scores the All Blacks third try in RWC final

To pretend that there is no South-North gap after this World Cup would be blinkered, but it would also be a distortion to suggest that it is a yawning chasm. The small margins by which Wales failed against South Africa (a last-minute try), and Scotland were prevented from putting Australia out of the tournament (a controversial last minute refereeing decision) were a more accurate measure.

Ireland’s exit was more clear-cut against an inspired Argentina, but whether it would have happened by that margin – if at all – had Johnny Sexton, Sean O’Brien and Paul O’Connell been playing is debatable.

The point, as it always is with the Lions, is that the sum of the four Home Unions is far greater than their individual parts.

The quality of the players available to the Lions is proven, and while none as individual nations have beaten this generation of All Blacks – bar England in 2012 – the collective strength that Ireland, Wales, England and Scotland can muster is enough to make the All Blacks sit up and take notice.

In fact, they have already done so. The fanfare for the 2017 Lions began in earnest before Steve Hansen and his double world champion New Zealand side departed the shores. Their laconic head coach made it clear that he would not be standing down until after the Lions tour. And if it is to be Hansen’s ‘last post’ there is an outside chance that Richie McCaw could also attempt a Brad Thorn. The All Black lock was 36 when he was part of the 2011 World Cup-winning side, and McCaw would be the same age if he stayed on for the Lions.

South Africa fielded the 38-year-old Victor Matfield at this World Cup as a player-coach, and it could be that McCaw is used in the same way by New Zealand. It will depend on whether the man Hansen describes as the greatest player New Zealand have produced still has the appetite for Test rugby, and for the hair-shirt physical regime that goes with it.

What is not in doubt is that captain-elect Kieran Read has huge boots to fill if McCaw calls time on his career, and so, too, does his No.7 understudy, Sam Cane. Neither Read nor Cane played badly during the 2015 triumph, but nor were they luminaries in the back-to-back campaign.

With Hansen also mindful that Dan Carter, Colin Slade, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Tony Woodcock and Keven Mealamu are retiring from All Black duty, he will be keen that the Lions receive no favours.

Hansen is getting his way, with the NZRFU, the Lions administration, and Premiership Rugby all doing his bidding.

Tagged All Blacks, British & Irish Lions, Lions, Lions Tour 2017, New Zealand

So to summarise that's 5 weeks, 10 matches, and players finishing their respective league finals one week before the start. What a mess.

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Post by Bathman_in_London Fri 13 Nov 2015, 9:21 am

Sounds like a complete shambles.

Is the PRL's plan to make the Lions tour so bad that it ends up being cancelled?

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Post by Notch Fri 13 Nov 2015, 9:33 am

In terms of what the provinces and Ireland need to be successful, there's no way I can support sending our best players on a tour with this kind of punishing schedule. It's a wild goose chase.
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Post by Rugby Fan Fri 13 Nov 2015, 9:49 am

I genuinely wouldn't people going on this one. Players will finish this season completely knackered, so the next pre-season isn't going to get them back into shape. To have a punishing Lions schedule to finish off the 2017 season seems like a great way to ruin a lot of them.

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Post by fa0019 Fri 13 Nov 2015, 10:02 am

its the same schedule as the last 2 tours.

here is the breakdown of tours in the pro era

97 - 13 matches in 43 days
01 - 10 matches in 37 days
05 - 12 matches in 48 days
09 - 10 matches in 36 days
13 - 10 matches in 36 days
17 - 10 matches in 36 days

However the lions should be working with leagues to start 1 week earlier and finish 1 week earlier.. maybe even more.

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Post by Rugby Fan Fri 13 Nov 2015, 10:21 am

fa0019 wrote:its the same schedule as the last 2 tours.
That's really the point. A lot of players came back from those tours broken, so the idea was to change things. The high injury count during the tour means other players get called up, which disrupts their own pre-season, or else messes up planning for the squads on tour elsewhere in the world.

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Post by yappysnap Fri 13 Nov 2015, 10:35 am

It's also not even the best players by that point just who ever is fit and can be picked

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Post by funnyExiledScot Fri 13 Nov 2015, 10:37 am

Well I think the Lions is an awesome concept and is right up there with the World Cup in terms of importance. I also firmly believe that in a Lions year, it comes before the needs of the individual consituent nations. Obviously just my view, but I dislike comments such as "I hope my nation's players don't get called up in case they get injured". For me, the Lions comes first.

The schedule is punishing. No question. Although similar to the last two tours, NZ teams are better and therefore tougher opposition. There will be no easy games. Whoever is selected to take charge over this tour is going to need to deploy hitherto unknown levels of genius to pull this off. My feeling is that the Lions will be beaten a few times along the way to the Test series, and will just have to accept that. The strength of the opposition over the first few games will be substantially better than faced on the last couple of tours.

In terms of the squad I certainly wouldn't advocate a repeat of Woodward's mammoth touring party, and I would keep the squad to around 38 names. What will be key however is having a reserve list ready to hand so that replacements can be better prepared to be called-up.

This is your Everest boys.

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Post by funnyExiledScot Fri 13 Nov 2015, 10:41 am

yappysnap wrote:It's also not even the best players by that point just who ever is fit and can be picked

So just like any rugby tour or tournament then. Same with the World Cup. Same with the 6 Nations. Same with the Rugby Championship. Very rare that a team can complete a tour or a tournament without suffering any injuries. The Lions is no different, and whoever is in charge will need to deal with that old chestnut: when to rest key players without letting them get rusty, and when to play key players in order for them to be match ready for the Tests. All part of the rich tapestry of a Lions tour, and why it generates more debate and interest than anything else in rugby union.

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Post by Cyril Fri 13 Nov 2015, 10:45 am

yappysnap wrote:It's also not even the best players by that point just who ever is fit and can be picked plays for the nation the head coach is currently contracted to
Fixed that for you Smile

On a serious note, if the Lions does keep going (and I'd be happy to bin it tomorrow), then we need to avoid the SCW/Gatland fall-out by not appointing someone still with one of the Home Nations.

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Post by Guest Fri 13 Nov 2015, 10:48 am

I love the Lions, but this is just crazy. In the pro game with bigger players, bigger impacts, leading to longer recovery times - they need to be playing less, not more.

5 Super Rugby matches
New Zealand Maori
All Blacks x 3
One other game (according to Gats)
= 10 games in 5 weeks. All games will be against fully pro teams too, so no soft hit outs midweek.

I'm questioning my loyalty to this concept.

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Post by Cyril Fri 13 Nov 2015, 10:50 am

Agree, the Lions needs to be cut down down to size to match current demands on players.

1 warm-up
3 Tests
2 mid-week games

would be ample.

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Post by lostinwales Fri 13 Nov 2015, 10:52 am

Cyril wrote:
yappysnap wrote:It's also not even the best players by that point just who ever is fit and can be picked plays for the nation the head coach is currently contracted to
Fixed that for you Smile

On a serious note, if the Lions does keep going (and I'd be happy to bin it tomorrow), then we need to avoid the SCW/Gatland fall-out by not appointing someone still with one of the Home Nations.

I guess you could combine it with the Barbarians concept and just fill the Lions with over the hill SH players then our best players can get a decent break for once

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Post by Cyril Fri 13 Nov 2015, 10:56 am

lostinwales wrote:
Cyril wrote:
yappysnap wrote:It's also not even the best players by that point just who ever is fit and can be picked plays for the nation the head coach is currently contracted to
Fixed that for you Smile

On a serious note, if the Lions does keep going (and I'd be happy to bin it tomorrow), then we need to avoid the SCW/Gatland fall-out by not appointing someone still with one of the Home Nations.

I guess you could combine it with the Barbarians concept and just fill the Lions with over the hill SH players then our best players can get a decent break for once
I was going to suggest that!

It could be a mixture of young guns and jaded veterans (like the Barbarians). I don't think the Lions is the place for players at the top of their game any more. There's just too much rugby and the Lions just wrecks players after a tough season. I'd certainly prefer an England win over any SH side than a Lions win any day. The Lions is quite fun to watch but there's not much attachment. It's like cheering on the European Parliament at Brussels.

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Post by Bathman_in_London Fri 13 Nov 2015, 11:07 am

Cyril wrote:
lostinwales wrote:
Cyril wrote:
yappysnap wrote:It's also not even the best players by that point just who ever is fit and can be picked plays for the nation the head coach is currently contracted to
Fixed that for you Smile

On a serious note, if the Lions does keep going (and I'd be happy to bin it tomorrow), then we need to avoid the SCW/Gatland fall-out by not appointing someone still with one of the Home Nations.

I guess you could combine it with the Barbarians concept and just fill the Lions with over the hill SH players then our best players can get a decent break for once
I was going to suggest that!

It could be a mixture of young guns and jaded veterans (like the Barbarians). I don't think the Lions is the place for players at the top of their game any more. There's just too much rugby and the Lions just wrecks players after a tough season. I'd certainly prefer an England win over any SH side than a Lions win any day. The Lions is quite fun to watch but there's not much attachment. It's like cheering on the European Parliament at Brussels.

I have to say, I am the opposite. The Lions gets my interest, yet another end of season tour against the same teams (who we then play again 5 months later) is not very exciting to me.

Sadly I think it will eventually go the way of the Dodo as it won't fit in with the schedules, but I sincerely hope I am able to go on one before it disappears.

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Post by lostinwales Fri 13 Nov 2015, 11:08 am

Cyril wrote:
lostinwales wrote:
Cyril wrote:
yappysnap wrote:It's also not even the best players by that point just who ever is fit and can be picked plays for the nation the head coach is currently contracted to
Fixed that for you Smile

On a serious note, if the Lions does keep going (and I'd be happy to bin it tomorrow), then we need to avoid the SCW/Gatland fall-out by not appointing someone still with one of the Home Nations.

I guess you could combine it with the Barbarians concept and just fill the Lions with over the hill SH players then our best players can get a decent break for once
I was going to suggest that!

It could be a mixture of young guns and jaded veterans (like the Barbarians). I don't think the Lions is the place for players at the top of their game any more. There's just too much rugby and the Lions just wrecks players after a tough season. I'd certainly prefer an England win over any SH side than a Lions win any day. The Lions is quite fun to watch but there's not much attachment. It's like cheering on the European Parliament at Brussels.

We could give the new touring team a name thats a combo of Lions and Barbarians. Librarians? ... maybe not

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Post by Cyril Fri 13 Nov 2015, 11:13 am

Bathman_in_London wrote:
Cyril wrote:
lostinwales wrote:
Cyril wrote:
yappysnap wrote:It's also not even the best players by that point just who ever is fit and can be picked plays for the nation the head coach is currently contracted to
Fixed that for you Smile

On a serious note, if the Lions does keep going (and I'd be happy to bin it tomorrow), then we need to avoid the SCW/Gatland fall-out by not appointing someone still with one of the Home Nations.

I guess you could combine it with the Barbarians concept and just fill the Lions with over the hill SH players then our best players can get a decent break for once
I was going to suggest that!

It could be a mixture of young guns and jaded veterans (like the Barbarians). I don't think the Lions is the place for players at the top of their game any more. There's just too much rugby and the Lions just wrecks players after a tough season. I'd certainly prefer an England win over any SH side than a Lions win any day. The Lions is quite fun to watch but there's not much attachment. It's like cheering on the European Parliament at Brussels.

I have to say, I am the opposite. The Lions gets my interest, yet another end of season tour against the same teams (who we then play again 5 months later) is not very exciting to me.

Sadly I think it will eventually go the way of the Dodo as it won't fit in with the schedules, but I sincerely hope I am able to go on one before it disappears.
I agree that there is a bit of 'sameness' about the current international structures but I'd rather remove the Barbarians and Lions and replace with the re-introduction of the Churchill Cup (or similar), replace AIs with home Test series for the NH against the SH and more 'development' games against the Pacific Island sides and the likes of Georgia. Basically I want to watch my country in either proper 'development' competitions (the Saxons lack of games is a joke) or meaningful series. Invitational sides don't do much for me.

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Post by funnyExiledScot Fri 13 Nov 2015, 11:16 am

Cyril wrote:
lostinwales wrote:
Cyril wrote:
yappysnap wrote:It's also not even the best players by that point just who ever is fit and can be picked plays for the nation the head coach is currently contracted to
Fixed that for you Smile

On a serious note, if the Lions does keep going (and I'd be happy to bin it tomorrow), then we need to avoid the SCW/Gatland fall-out by not appointing someone still with one of the Home Nations.

I guess you could combine it with the Barbarians concept and just fill the Lions with over the hill SH players then our best players can get a decent break for once
I was going to suggest that!

It could be a mixture of young guns and jaded veterans (like the Barbarians). I don't think the Lions is the place for players at the top of their game any more. There's just too much rugby and the Lions just wrecks players after a tough season. I'd certainly prefer an England win over any SH side than a Lions win any day. The Lions is quite fun to watch but there's not much attachment. It's like cheering on the European Parliament at Brussels.

For you perhaps. All objective evidence is entirely to the contrary.

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Post by Cyril Fri 13 Nov 2015, 11:19 am

funnyExiledScot wrote:
Cyril wrote:
lostinwales wrote:
Cyril wrote:
yappysnap wrote:It's also not even the best players by that point just who ever is fit and can be picked plays for the nation the head coach is currently contracted to
Fixed that for you Smile

On a serious note, if the Lions does keep going (and I'd be happy to bin it tomorrow), then we need to avoid the SCW/Gatland fall-out by not appointing someone still with one of the Home Nations.

I guess you could combine it with the Barbarians concept and just fill the Lions with over the hill SH players then our best players can get a decent break for once
I was going to suggest that!

It could be a mixture of young guns and jaded veterans (like the Barbarians). I don't think the Lions is the place for players at the top of their game any more. There's just too much rugby and the Lions just wrecks players after a tough season. I'd certainly prefer an England win over any SH side than a Lions win any day. The Lions is quite fun to watch but there's not much attachment. It's like cheering on the European Parliament at Brussels.

For you perhaps. All objective evidence is entirely to the contrary.
Well, yes, it's obviously in my opinion Smile I know there's still a lot of folk who like it. I wouldn't say 'all objective evidence is entirely to the contrary' though. There are plenty (on here alone) who aren't too fussed about it.

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Post by Cyril Fri 13 Nov 2015, 11:19 am

lostinwales wrote:
Cyril wrote:
lostinwales wrote:
Cyril wrote:
yappysnap wrote:It's also not even the best players by that point just who ever is fit and can be picked plays for the nation the head coach is currently contracted to
Fixed that for you Smile

On a serious note, if the Lions does keep going (and I'd be happy to bin it tomorrow), then we need to avoid the SCW/Gatland fall-out by not appointing someone still with one of the Home Nations.

I guess you could combine it with the Barbarians concept and just fill the Lions with over the hill SH players then our best players can get a decent break for once
I was going to suggest that!

It could be a mixture of young guns and jaded veterans (like the Barbarians). I don't think the Lions is the place for players at the top of their game any more. There's just too much rugby and the Lions just wrecks players after a tough season. I'd certainly prefer an England win over any SH side than a Lions win any day. The Lions is quite fun to watch but there's not much attachment. It's like cheering on the European Parliament at Brussels.

We could give the new touring team a name thats a combo of Lions and Barbarians. Librarians? ... maybe not
That's certainly an idea I could hang my hat on!

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Post by fa0019 Fri 13 Nov 2015, 11:20 am

Griff wrote:I love the Lions, but this is just crazy.  In the pro game with bigger players, bigger impacts, leading to longer recovery times - they need to be playing less, not more.

5 Super Rugby matches
New Zealand Maori
All Blacks x 3
One other game (according to Gats)
= 10 games in 5 weeks.  All games will be against fully pro teams too, so no soft hit outs midweek.

I'm questioning my loyalty to this concept.

super rugby matches with the top 30 kiwis out of them as they are rested for the tests. Not quite the same.

NZ maori should be the biggest game outside of the tests.

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Post by funnyExiledScot Fri 13 Nov 2015, 11:21 am

Bathman_in_London wrote:
Cyril wrote:
lostinwales wrote:
Cyril wrote:
yappysnap wrote:It's also not even the best players by that point just who ever is fit and can be picked plays for the nation the head coach is currently contracted to
Fixed that for you Smile

On a serious note, if the Lions does keep going (and I'd be happy to bin it tomorrow), then we need to avoid the SCW/Gatland fall-out by not appointing someone still with one of the Home Nations.

I guess you could combine it with the Barbarians concept and just fill the Lions with over the hill SH players then our best players can get a decent break for once
I was going to suggest that!

It could be a mixture of young guns and jaded veterans (like the Barbarians). I don't think the Lions is the place for players at the top of their game any more. There's just too much rugby and the Lions just wrecks players after a tough season. I'd certainly prefer an England win over any SH side than a Lions win any day. The Lions is quite fun to watch but there's not much attachment. It's like cheering on the European Parliament at Brussels.

I have to say, I am the opposite. The Lions gets my interest, yet another end of season tour against the same teams (who we then play again 5 months later) is not very exciting to me.

Sadly I think it will eventually go the way of the Dodo as it won't fit in with the schedules, but I sincerely hope I am able to go on one before it disappears.

The one thing we know about modern sport is that cash is king. The Lions is ridiculously popular. Room will be made. The only real threat is petty squabbling between the constituent Unions and their clubs/regions/provinces over whose snouts can get better access to the trough. Then again, that rift threatens pretty much everything worthwhile in rugby.

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Post by funnyExiledScot Fri 13 Nov 2015, 11:28 am

Cyril wrote:
funnyExiledScot wrote:
Cyril wrote:
lostinwales wrote:
Cyril wrote:
yappysnap wrote:It's also not even the best players by that point just who ever is fit and can be picked plays for the nation the head coach is currently contracted to
Fixed that for you Smile

On a serious note, if the Lions does keep going (and I'd be happy to bin it tomorrow), then we need to avoid the SCW/Gatland fall-out by not appointing someone still with one of the Home Nations.

I guess you could combine it with the Barbarians concept and just fill the Lions with over the hill SH players then our best players can get a decent break for once
I was going to suggest that!

It could be a mixture of young guns and jaded veterans (like the Barbarians). I don't think the Lions is the place for players at the top of their game any more. There's just too much rugby and the Lions just wrecks players after a tough season. I'd certainly prefer an England win over any SH side than a Lions win any day. The Lions is quite fun to watch but there's not much attachment. It's like cheering on the European Parliament at Brussels.

For you perhaps. All objective evidence is entirely to the contrary.
Well, yes, it's obviously in my opinion Smile I know there's still a lot of folk who like it. I wouldn't say 'all objective evidence is entirely to the contrary' though. There are plenty (on here alone) who aren't too fussed about it.

Sort of like saying there's no attachment to football, just because there are a few on here who have no interest in it. Just look at the numbers. The Lions are massively popular and attract far more support than the constituent nations. How many fans travel to watch England get dry humped around the park by the SH sides? I'm not even going to mention Scotland. More folk will show up to watch Rangers vs Alloa than a Scotland Autumn International. Makes all this "I hope the Lions don't use my players" sound rather silly. In terms of players not wanting to play for the Lions, I can only think of Will Carling turning down the opportunity in recent times.

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Post by Guest Fri 13 Nov 2015, 11:33 am

fa0019 wrote:
Griff wrote:I love the Lions, but this is just crazy.  In the pro game with bigger players, bigger impacts, leading to longer recovery times - they need to be playing less, not more.

5 Super Rugby matches
New Zealand Maori
All Blacks x 3
One other game (according to Gats)
= 10 games in 5 weeks.  All games will be against fully pro teams too, so no soft hit outs midweek.

I'm questioning my loyalty to this concept.

super rugby matches with the top 30 kiwis out of them as they are rested for the tests. Not quite the same.

NZ maori should be the biggest game outside of the tests.

So 30 pros out - lets assume it's an even split even though it's not - 5 teams, losing 6 players to NZ. That will still leave match day squads of 17 of their normal 23, or 9 of their normal first choice starting 15. That's not too shabby. But my point was that the Lions are playing twice a week every week. In the past the midweek would be against 'President select' amateurs. These will still be all pros so the Lions will need to put out decent teams or they'll get pummeled. If that's the case then what's the point of playing the S15 teams at all?

I agree with Cyril. 3 tests, maybe 1 v Maori and then maybe one or two other games = 5 or 6 games tops.

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Post by funnyExiledScot Fri 13 Nov 2015, 11:41 am

I do wonder whether the quality of opposition in this Schedule will lead to a larger touring party. I know Sir Clive tried it and failed, but there were other mistakes made on that tour and not just the size of the squad:

- bad selections: tour form roundly ignored and Test Side virtually picked on day one
- us and them attitude with dirt track players vs 1st XV
- ridiculous numbers of back office staff
- Alastair Campbell

I wonder whether this tour will be a hybrid. Large squad but with the above errors ironed out.

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Post by Tattie Scones RRN Fri 13 Nov 2015, 12:00 pm

If Gatland is coach, it'll only really affect Wales anyway.

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Post by lostinwales Fri 13 Nov 2015, 12:00 pm

I do think the Lions is a fascinating concept, but I do also think that the current tours do a lot of harm as well as good. Such a heavyweight tour at the end of a long season seems to be a step too far for the players, and its a lottery as to how well they come out if the experience. For instance for England it is not inconceivable that we might have had Tuilagi lining up at the RWC had he not gone to Australia.

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Post by funnyExiledScot Fri 13 Nov 2015, 12:01 pm

lostinwales wrote:I do think the Lions is a fascinating concept, but I do also think that the current tours do a lot of harm as well as good. Such a heavyweight tour at the end of a long season seems to be a step too far for the players, and its a lottery as to how well they come out if the experience. For instance for England it is not inconceivable that we might have had Tuilagi lining up at the RWC had he not gone to Australia.

I think that's a stretch!!


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Post by SecretFly Fri 13 Nov 2015, 12:39 pm

..a job for dentist Walter Palmer. Weatherbeaten old concept that's well past its sell-by-date.

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Post by sad_gimp Fri 13 Nov 2015, 12:48 pm

Getting a bit ridiculous.

I'd be happy with a once-a-season B&I team vs BaaBaas (predominantly SH) match.

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Post by lostinwales Fri 13 Nov 2015, 12:51 pm

funnyExiledScot wrote:
lostinwales wrote:I do think the Lions is a fascinating concept, but I do also think that the current tours do a lot of harm as well as good. Such a heavyweight tour at the end of a long season seems to be a step too far for the players, and its a lottery as to how well they come out if the experience. For instance for England it is not inconceivable that we might have had Tuilagi lining up at the RWC had he not gone to Australia.

I think that's a stretch!!


I am not saying it isn't - but both him and Ben Youngs played for the Lions when carrying injuries and spent a lot of the following season out of action. Unfortunately you didn't have many Scottish players on tour so didn't have to go through the same issues

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Post by Rugby Fan Fri 13 Nov 2015, 1:00 pm

funnyExiledScot wrote:...In terms of players not wanting to play for the Lions, I can only think of Will Carling turning down the opportunity in recent times...
You might want to read this.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/will-carling/will-carling-me-and-the-lions_b_2836915.html

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Post by SecretFly Fri 13 Nov 2015, 1:09 pm

mid_gen wrote:Getting a bit ridiculous.

I'd be happy with a once-a-season B&I team vs BaaBaas (predominantly SH) match.

BaaBaas (North) v BaaBaas (South)?

BaaBaas North - inclusive of Italy and France, or whichever sides eventually make up the 6N. It's more than time especially that French players got to play WITH their NH colleagues from England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland. It's the 21st century and that's why I'd say that unless the other 6N partners are brought into a 'NH' side for shorter tours in future then the Lions should just be dropped. The Victorian era has long gone.


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Post by Sin é Fri 13 Nov 2015, 1:18 pm

Its a tour for the fans to go on the urine for a few weeks. None of the fans really care if the Lions lose, whereas if it was your country you'd be gutted and wouldn't be able to enjoy your holiday.

A pity the PRL are acting the maggot again. God, they really want to destroy rugby, don't they?

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Post by RubyGuby Fri 13 Nov 2015, 1:21 pm

When the hysteria dies down and the neurotics go back to their medication we will all reflect and look forward with great anticipation and excitement to the next Lions tour of New Zealand.

thumbsup

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Post by lostinwales Fri 13 Nov 2015, 1:21 pm

Sin é wrote:Its a tour for the fans to go on the urine for a few weeks. None of the fans really care if the Lions lose, whereas if it was your country you'd be gutted and wouldn't be able to enjoy your holiday.

A pity the PRL are acting the maggot again. God, they really want to destroy rugby, don't they?


How dare the bastards consider the health and well being of their players?

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Post by Sin é Fri 13 Nov 2015, 1:27 pm

They could do something about it like resting a few of their players for a week or two rather than enforcing this schedule.

Its highly unlikely that most clubs won't have more than 2 or 3 players involved in the Lions. Why not give them a few extra weeks off - just like what the IRFU manages its players.
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Post by BamBam Fri 13 Nov 2015, 1:28 pm

In the run up to the final of the year long competition though?

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Post by Sin é Fri 13 Nov 2015, 1:30 pm

BamBam wrote:In the run up to the final of the year long competition though?

The players like touring on the Lions. They also earn huge money for it. Take that away and you will see more players heading over to France. If Ireland and Wales can manage it with selecting from just 4 clubs each, the PRL should also be able to.
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Post by rodders Fri 13 Nov 2015, 1:57 pm

No problem just make the touring team up from Welsh, Harlequins, London Irish and Leicester tigers players - they should have their domestic season wrapped up early enough.
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Post by funnyExiledScot Fri 13 Nov 2015, 2:21 pm

lostinwales wrote:
funnyExiledScot wrote:
lostinwales wrote:I do think the Lions is a fascinating concept, but I do also think that the current tours do a lot of harm as well as good. Such a heavyweight tour at the end of a long season seems to be a step too far for the players, and its a lottery as to how well they come out if the experience. For instance for England it is not inconceivable that we might have had Tuilagi lining up at the RWC had he not gone to Australia.

I think that's a stretch!!


I am not saying it isn't - but both him and Ben Youngs played for the Lions when carrying injuries and spent a lot of the following season out of action. Unfortunately you didn't have many Scottish players on tour so didn't have to go through the same issues

Yeh, that's why I love the Lions. It's so that the other nations whom Scotland compete against in the 6 Nations get their players crocked, whereas Scotland gets by unscathed as a result. It's why Scotland does so well in the 6 Nations after a Lions year......

I personally think we're looking at this backwards. The Lions is the priority for me (regardless of Lions representation). I personally think we ought to be looking at how to manage workloads both before and after the tour, rather than seeking to cancel the tour.

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Post by BamBam Fri 13 Nov 2015, 2:25 pm

Sin é wrote:
BamBam wrote:In the run up to the final of the year long competition though?

The players like touring on the Lions. They also earn huge money for it. Take that away and you will see more players heading over to France. If Ireland and Wales can manage it with selecting from just 4 clubs each, the PRL should also be able to.

I've just read properly what the PRL have said, I agree with you that they should be more amenable to the change in league dates, its not that far dissimilar to being pushed back because of the RWC.


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Post by Notch Fri 13 Nov 2015, 2:30 pm

Rugby Fan wrote:
funnyExiledScot wrote:...In terms of players not wanting to play for the Lions, I can only think of Will Carling turning down the opportunity in recent times...
You might want to read this.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/will-carling/will-carling-me-and-the-lions_b_2836915.html

Great piece, honest about his own failings. I particularly liked this;

But my priority was England, that is who I had the honour to play for and captain, and that is who I would do whatever it took for.

I totally agree with and admire that. I don't blame players for wanting to go on the Lions tour to earn a bit of money and raise their profile etc. It's an honour for them to be selected even if the whole thing is a bit of a circus. But at their back of the Irish players minds, I want it to be clear that it's a garnish and the most important thing, the defining thing, is what they achieve in that green shirt. Thats the really meaningful, competitive part of test rugby, and that is what they will be judged on. These aren't the days of Willie John McBride anymore- thats over. Playing for your country in test rugby is the pinnacle.

The Lions is a great thing because its not the pinnacle. It's about seeing players play together that wouldn't normally get a chance too, about showing off the cream of our crop. Primarily, its about entertainment and thats how it should be approached. I really didn't enjoy the last tour at all even though the Lions won. Given there's no emotional tie to a nation or a province, I don't really care about the results as much as I do when I watch Ulster or Ireland. In 2013 it felt like everything was geared towards winning as if it was like the rest of international rugby. If it's just like the rest of international rugby then its pointless for me. That's like the Barbarians going out and kicking the corners, knocking over drop goals and going for the posts with every penalty. The reason they exist is to show off the best the game has to offer! Also in 2013 the warm-up games felt more like the fulfilling of a contractual obligation than any kind of entertaining contest. If the other non-test matches are crap it's an even more egregious failing of the format. We're sending our best players halfway across the world to be dirt trackers against Super Rugby reserve teams in front of half-empty stadiums? How pointless is that!

If we have to keep the Lions going- and I would prefer that we didn't- I really think the Lions should be changed to a five-match format. Bring a much smaller squad, give them two practice games and then three tests that attempt to show off the highest levels of skill, flair and imagination that we have in the NH game.
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Post by TightHEAD Fri 13 Nov 2015, 2:35 pm

I love the Lions but players shouldn't be run into the ground just to fulfill a crazy schedule.
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Post by funnyExiledScot Fri 13 Nov 2015, 2:36 pm

Sin é wrote:They could do something about it like resting a few of their players for a week or two rather than enforcing this schedule.

Its highly unlikely that most clubs won't have more than 2 or 3 players involved in the Lions. Why not give them a few extra weeks off - just like what the IRFU manages its players.

100% agree. Rather than bleating about the schedule, how about being more proactive around managing workloads. The Lions tour is not going to go away, and whether you agree with the gruelling schedule or not, it isn't going to change. If you flog your international players right up to the end of the season, and they then go on the tour, you can hardly moan that they aren't fresh and ready for the start of the following season.

The English clubs are looking after their own interests. I don't blame them for that. But let's not pretend (or allow them to pretend) player welfare is really at the top of their agenda. They just want the players to be fit and fresh for them and club fixtures. Both international rugby and the Lions are irrelevant to them - the fact that those are fixed commitments does not appear to have dawned on some club prioritisers).

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Post by funnyExiledScot Fri 13 Nov 2015, 2:40 pm

Notch wrote:
Rugby Fan wrote:
funnyExiledScot wrote:...In terms of players not wanting to play for the Lions, I can only think of Will Carling turning down the opportunity in recent times...
You might want to read this.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/will-carling/will-carling-me-and-the-lions_b_2836915.html

Great piece, honest about his own failings. I particularly liked this;

But my priority was England, that is who I had the honour to play for and captain, and that is who I would do whatever it took for.

I totally agree with and admire that. I don't blame players for wanting to go on the Lions tour to earn a bit of money and raise their profile etc. It's an honour for them to be selected even if the whole thing is a bit of a circus. But at their back of the Irish players minds, I want it to be clear that it's a garnish and the most important thing, the defining thing, is what they achieve in that green shirt. Thats the really meaningful, competitive part of test rugby, and that is what they will be judged on. These aren't the days of Willie John McBride anymore- thats over. Playing for your country in test rugby is the pinnacle.

The Lions is a great thing because its not the pinnacle. It's about seeing players play together that wouldn't normally get a chance too, about showing off the cream of our crop. Primarily, its about entertainment and thats how it should be approached. I really didn't enjoy the last tour at all even though the Lions won. Given there's no emotional tie to a nation or a province, I don't really care about the results as much as I do when I watch Ulster or Ireland. In 2013 it felt like everything was geared towards winning as if it was like the rest of international rugby. If it's just like the rest of international rugby then its pointless for me. That's like the Barbarians going out and kicking the corners, knocking over drop goals and going for the posts with every penalty. The reason they exist is to show off the best the game has to offer! Also in 2013 the warm-up games felt more like the fulfilling of a contractual obligation than any kind of entertaining contest. If the other non-test matches are crap it's an even more egregious failing of the format. We're sending our best players halfway across the world to be dirt trackers against Super Rugby reserve teams in front of half-empty stadiums? How pointless is that!

If we have to keep the Lions going- and I would prefer that we didn't- I really think the Lions should be changed to a five-match format. Bring a much smaller squad, give them two practice games and then three tests that attempt to show off the highest levels of skill, flair and imagination that we have in the NH game.

Oh well. I strongly disagree with all of that.

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Post by SecretFly Fri 13 Nov 2015, 3:02 pm

Notch wrote:

I totally agree with and admire that. I don't blame players for wanting to go on the Lions tour to earn a bit of money and raise their profile etc. It's an honour for them to be selected even if the whole thing is a bit of a circus. But at their back of the Irish players minds, I want it to be clear that it's a garnish and the most important thing, the defining thing, is what they achieve in that green shirt. Thats the really meaningful, competitive part of test rugby, and that is what they will be judged on. These aren't the days of Willie John McBride anymore- thats over. Playing for your country in test rugby is the pinnacle.

The Lions is a great thing because its not the pinnacle. It's about seeing players play together that wouldn't normally get a chance too, about showing off the cream of our crop. Primarily, its about entertainment and thats how it should be approached. I really didn't enjoy the last tour at all even though the Lions won. Given there's no emotional tie to a nation or a province, I don't really care about the results as much as I do when I watch Ulster or Ireland. In 2013 it felt like everything was geared towards winning as if it was like the rest of international rugby. If it's just like the rest of international rugby then its pointless for me. That's like the Barbarians going out and kicking the corners, knocking over drop goals and going for the posts with every penalty. The reason they exist is to show off the best the game has to offer! Also in 2013 the warm-up games felt more like the fulfilling of a contractual obligation than any kind of entertaining contest. If the other non-test matches are crap it's an even more egregious failing of the format. We're sending our best players halfway across the world to be dirt trackers against Super Rugby reserve teams in front of half-empty stadiums? How pointless is that!

If we have to keep the Lions going- and I would prefer that we didn't- I really think the Lions should be changed to a five-match format. Bring a much smaller squad, give them two practice games and then three tests that attempt to show off the highest levels of skill, flair and imagination that we have in the NH game.

Perfect post on this topic for me.  

Lions is great entertainment in its moment, in its few weeks; ..... the National infighting being so much a part of it.  I couldn't care less how many games they win or lose though, either in a series or through their long history.  I have no emotional attachment to the results or the shirt.  When it comes to honour and bloodthirsty anger, sadness and joy..... nothing comes close to Nation.

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Post by fa0019 Fri 13 Nov 2015, 3:12 pm

Not so sure guys... from what I've heard from players past (pro era players) the lions is the pinnacle for them.
When did Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England ever get a serious chance of series wins in SA, NZ, AUS?

They get close in some matches but to be truthful almost always they come home 0-3. The lions is the ultimate for many because outside of a world cup final the biggest games in NH rugby are probably a deciding 3rd Lions test.

From a fans point of view, I probably agree.  I do think though that they need tune up games, maybe 6 games prior to tests to see who gets the shirt. Whether those are in Europe or on tour is another matter.
I for one would prefer they play say tests vs. Italy, France, Argentina and then maybe 2 club games on tour leading up to the tests.

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Post by rodders Fri 13 Nov 2015, 3:22 pm

Yeah I don't agree with that - the Lions should be about winning, its about sending down the best the home nations can offer in a backs to the wall situation down in the SH.

It needs to be brutal more than entertaining.

That traditional rugby tour has gone out of rugby - something has to give though the seasons are far too long.

Last Lions tour was garbage but the last tour to SA got it right.
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Post by Notch Fri 13 Nov 2015, 3:26 pm

fa0019 wrote:Not so sure guys... from what I've heard from players past (pro era players) the lions is the pinnacle for them.
When did Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England ever get a serious chance of series wins in SA, NZ, AUS?

Do you really believe that the Lions will ever again have a realistic shot at a tour victory in SA and NZ? We know it's going to be 3-0 in two years and whether or not I think it's a good tour comes down to whether I enjoy the ride. I'll give you Australia, but in many ways I think Ireland at their very best would have a realistic shot at winning a series down there and we'd see that happen more regularly without the Lions blocking up the schedule.
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