Win a copy of the Lions RAW DVD with bloodandmud.com
Check out the ridiculous skills on display from his His Mightiness, Brian O'Driscoll in this teaser clip from the upcoming Lions RAW DVD.
To celebrate BOD's no look pass, and the release of the latest Lions docu on 28 October (pre-order it now from here), we have five copies to give away to you lucky readers.
To be in with a shout of winning one, simply answer this question:
Who is the player with most international caps that has never been selected for a Lions tour?
Send your answers to this email address, and put 'RAW comp' as the subject.
Rugby Video: Lions RAW trailer
It's nearly time for the latest behind the scenes Lions doc to be released, and here is a teaser.
There are many reasons to buy this DVD, but the main one is that Stephen Jones of The Times has come out publicly to say he hates it.
That should be what they put on the box "As despised by the hateful moustache Stephen Jones", it would sell in droves.
It's out on 28 October but you can pre-order now on Amazon - you know it makes sense.
Review: Australia vs British & Irish Lions, Third Test
We fucking smashed them.
Preview: Australia vs British & Irish Lions, Third Test (Gulp!)
It’s nearly time for the biggest Lions game since, well, since the last one. But this game in Sydney has the added ingredient of being the decider in a series that is so close it has a points difference after two Tests of just +1 in favour of the British & Irish Lions , and to borrow from The Beautiful South, this outing promises to be, “closer than a cat to the baby that it smothered”.
There has been a great deal of bullshit furore in the build-up about the non-selection of Brian O’Driscoll; with some stating that with this decision, and his plumping for ten Welshmen in the fifteen, Warren Gatland has basically smeared bat goz in the face of all Lions players and fans, past and present and the Lion mascot itself. I’ve written a separate post on what a towering pile of nonsense it is to single this one-nation-heavy selection out for particular opprobrium.
The loss of BOD will be felt in terms of experience, but it won’t be felt in terms of attack and the Lions need to attack a great deal more than they did in Melbourne. No amount of calm headedness and savvy can save a team that is defending for thirty minutes of the second half, as the Lions did for the defeat last week. This will be solved by better ball control up front, hence the forward changes, and better decision making and execution at 10, especially where Sexton’s kicking out of hand is concerned. Territorial kicking has been rank bad for the tourists in each Test so far.
The Aussies will probably be happy that BOD is not playing, but they will know that once they cross the whitewash on Saturday this will mean nothing as they still have to beat a bloody decent side. The recall of George Smith is key, as the arch-snitcher at the breakdown faces off against the rampaging Sean O’Brien, who is better on the ground than given credit for, but not in Smith’s league. Simply put, if the Lions forwards play as they did last week then they are going to lose, so Gatland has put everything into the power game he so loves, believing that if his big men do what they are capable of, then Beale, Folau and the like will be spectators, as the Lions’ own backline was last week. I believe this Lions team will rise above the comments this week, surprise us all and do the business.
Don't forget that you can watch the game live even if you don't have a Sky Sports subscription by grabbing a Sky Sports day pass from Now TV
B&M Prediction: I’ve predicted Lions by 3 for the first two Tests, I see no reason to change it now.
Spotter’s Badge: BOD getting more camera time than the 30 players on the field put together.
Australia: Kurtley Beale; Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Christian Leali’ifano, Joe Tomane; James O’Connor, Will Genia; Benn Robinson, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander; Kane Douglas, James Horwill (c); Ben Mowen, George Smith, Wycliff Palu.
Replacements: Saia Fainga’a, James Slipper, Sekope Kepu, Rob Simmons, Ben McCalman, Michael Hooper, Nick Phipps, Jesse Mogg.
British & Irish Lions: 15-Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), 14-Tommy Bowe (Ireland), 13-Jonathan Davies (Wales), 12-Jamie Roberts (Wales), 11-George North (Wales), 10-Jonathan Sexton (Ireland), 9-Mike Phillips (Wales), 8-Toby Faletau (Wales), 7-Sean O'Brien (Ireland), 6-Dan Lydiate (Wales), 5-Geoff Parling (England), 4-Alun Wyn Jones (captain, Wales), 3-Adam Jones (Wales), 2-Richard Hibbard (Wales), 1-Alex Corbisiero (England)
Replacements - 16-Tom Youngs (England), Mako Vunipola (England), 18-Dan Cole (England), 19-Richie Gray (Scotland), 20- Justin Tipuric (Wales), 21-Conor Murray (Ireland), 22-Owen Farrell (England), 23-Manu Tuilagi (England)
Analysis: Nationally lopsided British & Irish Lions selections are nothing new. So there.
I despise those who small-mindedly total up the number of players from each nationality in a Lions line-up; it defeats the object of what the British & Irish Lions are all about and it leads people to make pointless, infuriating and irrelevant arguments that have nothing to do with winning a rugby game.
However, the opprobrium that Warren Gatland has received in both the regular and social media has led me to spend a great deal of time doing that very thing I despise to make a point, because there’s nothing this blog won’t do to win an argument. Looking back over every tour since 1971 (yes, I’m that stubborn) proves that selecting large number of players from one nation is very common, is usually linked to the most successful home nation at the time (as Wales are now), and certainly does not “disrespect the ethos of the Lions”.
Ah the seventies, everything was shades of brown and made of nylon, and Wales were the dominant force in rugby.
1971 vs the All Blacks saw 9 Welsh in the starting lineup for the first Test and 8 for the second.
1974, arguably the most famous of tours, saw Wales have the 6 players start the first Test, which would definitely had been seven had Gerald Davies ignored his conscience and toured.
1977, another trip to New Zealand, another 8 Welshman starting both of the first two tests
1983, another hiding against The Blackness, saw Wales and Ireland dominate the Test team, with 6 Wales and 5 Irish pulling on the red jersey for the first Test, this then shifted to 6 Irish for the other three Tests. Ireland were the top B&I team in that year’s Five Nations.
1989, the last victory in Australia and the Tour that is being touted as where the men of 2013 should take inspiration. Well, it seems that Ian McGeechan, another arch defender of BOD this week, wasn’t too keen on the Irish back then. The first Test, which saw a hammering dished out by the Wallabies, included 5 Welsh, 5 Scots, 1 Irishman and 4 English. The second outing had 8 English, 4 Scots, 3 Welsh and, count ‘em, 0 (zero) Irish. The third Test was the same starting lineup and there wasn’t even an Irishman on the bench, so not a single emerald islander anywhere in the match 21! Funny enough, no-one mentions this or accuses Geech of destroying the Lions ethos while they wax in orgasmic tones of the glorious victory.
The Lions were nearly completely ruined in New Zealand in 1993 as 8 English started the first Test and 11 (ELEVEN!) started the second and third run-outs. Good job there was no Twitter around then as the internet might have imploded and sucked the world into an irrational, whingeing black hole.
1997, the last time a Lions team won, was admittedly a very good mix of nations. But still withl a bias towards England.
2001, the last time the Lions were in the land of Oz saw 8 English start each Test, and in the second Test, if you count the bench, there were 13 England players in the match squad.
I’m not even looking at 2005, it’s too painful and Woodward took the two-thirds of the population of the country on tour.
2009, the epic battle in SA, saw a decent mix of players, most of whom got injured.
There you go then. Many tours have had lop-sided selections, including the legendary 1989 outing, and somehow the Lions have survived.
SHIT/GOOD Ratings: British & Irish Lions third test selection special
Assuming that Gatland isn’t going to come out in the press conference and say, “to be honest lads, I was a bit drunk, so please ignore this team and I’ll have a proper one for you in an hour”, it seems that this is the match squad the Lions have for the deciding Third Test in Sydney this Saturday. The Twitter has gone what can technically be described as ‘effing ballistic’, particularly about the omission of Brian O’Driscoll, but let’s try and decipher what this selection is all about, and decide, section by section, whether it’s any GOOD.
Front Row – Alex Corbisiero, Richard Hibbard, Adam Jones
The Lions’ biggest issue last week was in the forwards and particularly in the scrum. Many will make the argument that there was a lot of illegality in the scrums and so the selection last week were diddled a bit by that; but given that such illegality happens all the time this must be treated as the norm and selections made on that basis. Corbisiero did enough in the first Test to warrant a recall after injury; Hibbard offers more in the tight that Youngs and Adam is Adam. So, all in all, this one is GOOD.
Second Row – Geoff Parling, Alun-Wyn Jones (C)
This one is more of a mystery. Parling was a bit lightweight last week and also did not perform the line out services we can normally expect from him. Richie Grey has had a decent tour and deserved a run out in what is probably the only position where that has been no outstanding candidate. AWJ was on everyone’s teamsheet, but not as captain. However, he has captained his club all season and there was another Lions captain from the boilerhouse who took the armband with very little captaincy experience elsewhere. I seem to remember he did OK. SHT, because of Parling.
Back Row – Dan Lydiate, Sean O’Brien, Toby Faletau
With Sam injured this was always going to see change, and O’Brien in his place is a selection most would’ve made; ditto that of the retention of Lydiate, who was pretty outstanding in the Second Test. Faletau for Heaslip is the outlier here, but this blog would’ve made this change as Heaslip’s control at the base of the scrum has been appalling and Faletau offers more in the loose as he makes better runs, has better hands and you lose nothing in defence with him. GOOD
Half Backs – Mike Phillips, Jonny Sexton
This blog would not have dropped Phillips last week, so him being reinstated is right for us; however it’s still a bit of a mystery as to why he had to miss a game. Sexton is obviously the best 10 available, but really needs to kick territory better. GOOD.
Centres – Jamie Roberts, Jonathan Davies
No Brian O’Driscoll. On the face of it this is worst decision since Will James as an international player in 2007, but is it really that bad? While his defence has been stout as ever, BOD has not been on great form from an attacking point of view and he has given away three key penalties at the breakdown, but his experience could be missed in this most crunchy of crunch matches. In Davies’ defence, we are told that Lions tours are all about combinations, and Roberts & Davies are a proven combination straight off the shelf which, ergo, must be a good thing. Many in the social media have pointed to the fact that Davies missed the tackle on Ashley-Cooper for the try at the weekend, but after a team defending for thirty minutes solid it is unfair to single one player out. I would hope that the plan this week does not involve the kind of non-play and endless tackling that marked the Lions’ second half in the last outing, please God...
Roberts was always going to start once fit. GOOD
Back Three – George North, Tommy Bowe, Leigh Hafpenny
No brainer. GOOD
So there you go. For all the hysteria this morning this is a team that may have some talking points, but you cannot really say there are any aneurysm-inducing howlers. Even the BOD non-selection has a logic to it. But that’s only what I think, I’m sure you’ve all some thoughts of your own so let’s have them
Video: Lions Weekly, players reflect on 2nd Test
George North says, "He ain't heavy, he's my Folau"
I've seen many a tackler lift a man, but this here is completely new.
Preview: Australia vs British & Irish Lions, 2nd Test
After last week's cloth touching match, it's time for the second installment of the series in Melbourne and this blog wants the Lions to win. Some people are saying that an Aus win, thus setting up a decider next week would be good for the tour, but I'd rather have a dose of chilli-infused piles than have to suffer a deciding Test. But will the Lions do it?
Yes, they will. For as start, the Lions have Leigh Halfpenny, whose kicking is more reliable than Tom Waldrom at an all you can eat buffet; they also have a much stronger bench for impact late on; and the Wallabies still have James O'Connor at 10 whose performance last week was Orquera-esque in its incompetence.
Even with the changes in the pack the Lions should still be too strong in the set piece, and Parling's inclusion should actually make the lineout better.
The big worry, as always, is Will Genia. Can Ben Youngs do what Phillips failed so hopelessly at last week and get the better of the little wizard? Or if he can't do that, at least stop him having such an influence on the game? Sexton can help by kicking for territory more intelligently than he did last week, as the Aussies back three can kill you if you don't turn them and then chase properly. If all else fails, we can just Give It To George.
It will be another close one, but I come back to those two words; words so comforting they should stuff pillows with them: Leigh Halfpenny.
B&M Prediction: Lions by 3.
Spotter's Badge: Camera cutting to Mike Phillips in the stand every time Ben Youngs or Conor Murray make even the tiniest of mistakes
Australia: Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Christian Leali'ifano, Joe Tomane, James O'Connor, Will Genia, Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper, Ben Mowen, James Horwill (capt), Kane Douglas, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Benn Robinson.
Replacements: Saia Fainga'a, James Slipper, Sekope Kepu, Rob Simmons, Liam Gill, Nick Phipps, Rob Horne, Jesse Mogg.
British & Irish Lions: Leigh Halfpenny, Tommy Bowe, Brian O'Driscoll, Jonathan Davies, George North, Jonathan Sexton, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Tom Youngs, Adam Jones, Alun Wyn Jones, Geoff Parling, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton (c), Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: Richard Hibbard, Ryan Grant, Dan Cole, Tom Croft, Sean O'Brien, Conor Murray, Owen Farrell, Alex Cuthbert.
Video: HSBC British & Irish Lions Weekly - Brisbane
All the latest from the tour.