1st Test – Kings Park, Durban: South Africa 26 – 21 Lions
2nd Test – Loftus Verdus, Pretoria: South Africa 28 – 25 Lions
3rd Test – Ellis Park, Johannesburg: South Africa 9 – 28 Lions
Heartbreaking as it was to lose the series after the second test it’s been an amazing tour. As Geech said of the six halves played we had the best of four of them but ultimately the team that was most clinical on the day won the match. I think ‘deserve’ is an overused word when it comes to sport, as an Ireland fan I’ve had more than my fair share of moments when I felt we deserved to win but I think Paul O’Connell got it right:
“The team that wins is the better team,” he said. “You do what you have to do to win.
“The trophy goes to the team that wins. Ian McGeechan said before the game you earn respect by winning.
“Sure, people have been patting us on the backs for our performances but for some guys here it was the first win on the southern hemisphere, and that’s important.”
And you’d have to say however well we played in the first two tests, ultimately South Africa showed why they were World Champions and they took their chances when they got them.
I think the talk about whether or not the Lion is an outdated concept and whether or not they can really compete was convincingly trashed this tour – even if we hadn’t won the third test I think running the World Champions to within 5 points and then 3 points with a team that’s only been playing together for 5 weeks shows that the Lions are a competitive team and though we’re obviously in it to win it those two games were a far cry from the ‘blackwash‘ of four years ago, this was a team producing some truly exceptional rugby.
For me the standout players of the tour for the Lions were Jamie Roberts, Drico, Rob Kearney, Tommy Bowe, Jamie Heaslip and Mike Phillips. I also thought Shaw, Wallace, M Williams, Jones and Fitzgerald all had good tours. I would have loved to have seen Stephen Ferris take on the Boks, hopefully he’ll only improve between now and 2013.
For the Boks obviously Smit and du Preez were great and i’ve been a fan of both Spies and Francois Steyn for a while but the player I’m most looking forward to seeing in the Tri-nations is probably Heinrich Brüssow, and with Burger out it looks like he’ll be getting a chance to lay claim to the 6 jersey.
I also like how in this photo it looks quite a lot like POC is about to kiss Geech.
There’s a lot happening in the next couple of weeks, next week is Birmingham’s Ball and the Final Fling, both of which I will be cocktail waiting at (though possibly a little more like this) and Saturday is the first Lions Test, which if I had to call my Test 22 right now I’d go for:
Byrne, Bowe, BOD, Roberts, Fitzgerald, Jones, Phillips, Jenkins, Mears, Murray, Wyn-Jones, O’Connell, Croft, Wallace, Heaslip // Rees, Vickery, Hines, Williams, Ellis, O’Gara, Kearney
Then the week after is AMSU conference (for which I need to reinvent Agenda magazine’s online persona) and then Glastonbury.
In amongst all of that I also need to:
- finish unpacking
- put whatever I’m not going to unpack in the attic
- possibly buy a piano
- start going to the gym and/or running and/or playing basketball
- watch series 5 of The Wire
- buy series 2 of Deadwood
- continue developing the SU site (see new development blog) and,
- buy more hangers
Even though in the last tour the mid-week games (Maori aside) were won, generally comfortably, I definitely feel like this is indicative of a close series with the Boks (if only because this side might actually have a bearing on the Test side).
Whilst I’ll obviously want to laud the Irish performance from what I read and saw the Welsh boys deserve a fair portion of the plaudits.
Either way this tour definitely has a good feel about it – especially as we now have the prospect of an Irish 10-15 on the cards…
The squad has been announced and overall I’m pretty happy. It’s not far off what I would’ve gone for, though would’ve liked to have seen Tom Croft and maybe Thom Evans taken along.
Paul O’Connell has been announced as the Lions captain for this summer and though I still would’ve gone for Drico myself I can see why you’d choose O’Connell, especially up against the Springboks.
The full squad is announced tomorrow afternoon (fingers crossed for Ireland’s greatest ever contribution to the squad) and just incase Geech is a little unsure how this sort of thing works there’s a quite handily titled article on the BBC site:
Ian McGeechan’s choice of squad is critical to the Lions’ fortunes in South Africa
You don’t say…