After another mixed week, the only way that things could get worse for the Lions was if we started rambling on about them again. So here we are.
1. How many players is enough?
Like The Cure, Warren Gatland seems to think that the answer to that question is that there’s never enough. Despite picking the largest Lions’ squad in living memory, and only days after announcing that he wasn’t going to call in anyone to replace the injured Stuart Hogg, Gatland today decided that he was going to call up another five players or so to boost the midweek squad. Yes, you read that right. Everyone called up is sacrificing an international cap for their country in exchange for the chance to be midweek cannon fodder in New Zealand. You can see the logic of him not wanting to play those in his Test XXIII more than once a week, but (a) this smacks of a return to the divided tours where the midweek and Test sides hardly crossed paths and (b) adding another five players ‘only’ gives him 45, so someone is going to have to suit up twice anyway.
2. Meanwhile, in Auckland
The All Blacks got in a gentle warm-up game, crushing Samoa 78-0 at Eden Park. Worryingly for the Lions, the Samoans were very much in the game in the first half, but paid for not taking the chances that fell their way and by conceding some silly penalties. Which doesn’t sound like the sort of thing that the Lions would do, now does it? Oh…
3. Barrett Watch
Beauden started for the All Blacks and finished with two tries and seven conversions. Scott and Jordie both came on as replacements and each created a try, but at no point were all three of them on the pitch at the same time. Boo! Hiss! Etc.
4. Captain O’Mahony
Even though it makes him sound like a minor character in a Patrick O’Brian seafaring novel, Peter O’Mahony will lead the Lions against the Maori All Blacks tomorrow. This gives him the distinction of being the first non-Welshman to lead a Lions team this year, as Gatland finally realises that if he doesn’t spread the job a bit more widely he’s going to end up with Liam Williams making the on-field decisions. Our betting on how long it takes O’Mahony to start chirping in referee Jaco Peyper‘s ear? Fewer than 90 seconds, indeed possibly even before the kick off.
5. And elsewhere
France have been reprimanded over the late substitution which led to their victory over Wales in the Six Nations. This being rugby politics, the reprimand is for not following the head injury protocol and not for blatantly cheating…Wales struggled to a win over Tonga in Auckland earlier today, managing to win 24-6 without looking much better than their opponents…Sam Underhill of Bath makes his England debut against Argentina, with Chris Robshaw also returning to the team…France have made five changes to their team for their second Test against South Africa, including bringing back Scott Speddings. We have no words…On a much happier note, Hollie Davidson has become Scotland’s first full time female official. She will primarily referee sevens tournaments in the run up to the 2020 Olympics.