TOKYO — From buses stormed by SAS soldiers to Olympic selections delivered through poetry at sunrise, these are the unusual tactics gold medal-winning coach Tim Walsh has used to inspire his Australian men’s sevens team.
The British & Irish Lions claimed a famous 22-17 victory over South Africa in the first Test of the two team’s three-match series in Cape Town. Warren Gatland’s side had a poor first half and went to the interval 12-3 down with Springbok fly-half Handre Pollard kicking four penalties to one from Dan Biggar. But […]
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The superb Courtney Lawes dominated and Alun Wyn Jones’s leadership was key while Faf de Klerk shone for the Springboks
Willie le Roux One shaky moment in the first half but silkily composed in general, a delightful sidestep often ghosting him away from would-be tacklers. Mostly very dangerous. 6Continue reading...
Trailing 12-3 at half time the British & Irish Lions seized control of the match in the 2nd half to take victory and set up the test series for more of the same. A try from Luke Cowan Dickie and the boots of Dan Biggar and Owen Farrell sealed the win but it was a team performance with Ireland’s Jack Conan, Tadhg Furlong and Robbie Henshaw featuring strongly and Conor Murray and Tadhg Beirne coming off the bench.
Stringing together 19 points in a superior second-half display, the British & Irish Lions came from behind to beat South Africa 22-17 in a bruising and intense first Test in Cape Town.
CASTLE LAGER LIONS TEST SERIES – FIRST TEST: Saturday, July 24
SOUTH AFRICA 17 BRITISH & IRISH LIONS 22, Cape Town Stadium
Scorers: South Africa: Try: Faf de Klerk; Pens: Handré Pollard 4
British & Irish Lions: Try: Luke Cowan-Dickie; Con: Dan Biggar; Pens: Dan Biggar 4, Owen Farrell
HT: South Africa 12 British & Irish Lions 3
Lions Test debutants Robbie Henshaw and Jack Conan joined 2017 star Tadhg Furlong in the starting XV, and Conor Murray and Tadhg Beirne both came off the bench to bring the Irish contribution to five.
Handré Pollard’s right boot was the key weapon for South Africa as they built a 12-3 lead, by the end of a cagey, defence-dominated first half.
Dan Biggar had opened the Lions’ account midway through, but both he and Elliot Daly missed efforts from the tee approaching half-time.
However, Luke Cowan-Dickie’s maul try in the 43rd minute lit the touch paper for a much-improved closing 40 minutes from Warren Gatland’s men.
Revelling in the physical exchanges, Courtney Lawes and player-of-the-match Maro Itoje starred up front as the Lions wrestled back momentum with sharper kicking and set-piece grunt.
An opportunist Faf de Klerk try briefly opened up a seven-point gap, but three more Biggar penalties – and a closing one from replacement Owen Farrell – made it a night to remember for the tourists.
A feverish opening few minutes saw both teams produce testing kicks, with the impressive Duhan van der Merwe and Cheslin Kolbe showing their ability in the air.
South Africa gained the greater attacking platform in the opening quarter, laying down an early marker with a big ball-dislodging tackle by Lukhanyo Am on Daly, his opposite number.
Lively scrum half de Klerk’s clever use of the boot got them into decent positions, and with Tom Curry slow to roll away, Pollard stepped up in the 13th minute to fire over his first penalty.
His second one followed four minutes later, with Itoje well tackled and coughing up a scrum before openside Curry was guilty of a late tackle on de Klerk.
Biggar cancelled out those three points with a surefooted long-range strike, but the ‘Boks continued to look the more dangerous side, their captain Siya Kolisi using a lineout maul to wriggle through up to just a few metres out.
Itoje’s vital penalty-winning intervention prevented the score on this occasion, yet further territory for the hosts led to centre Daly infringing and Pollard mopped up with three more points.
The penalties were really beginning to hurt the Lions, with Henshaw turned in a tackle and Trevor Nyakane getting his hands over the ball to win the decision. Pollard again was bang on target, from outside the 10-metre line, for 12-3.
A strong surge by Conan, during a penalty advantage, showed what the Lions could do when they attacked at pace in the wide channels. Anthony Watson also did some damage when it came his way on the right.
After the ‘Boks were guilty of standing up in a scrum under pressure from Furlong, Biggar narrowly missed his kick on the near side.
The gap remained at nine points up to the break, as Daly dropped a monster penalty short from just outside the halfway line and Henshaw, having cut inside Am on a brilliant break, was felled by Willie le Roux in a crucial tackle that produced a knock on.
Nonetheless, the Lions got the start to the second half that they craved. Le Roux’s hesitancy led to a penalty, and another one – this time Henshaw was caught high in a tackle – brought the tourists even closer.
The maul duly did the damage, snaking through for England’s Cowan-Dickie to reach out and score. Biggar added the conversion to cut the gap to just two points.
The Lions had a big let-off, though, when the ‘Boks countered swiftly from a Lions kick, Am was fed by Munster’s Damian de Allende but le Roux, who went on to ground the ball for a possible try, was adjudged to be ahead of Am when he kicked through.
There was no denying the ‘Boks in the 49th minute as a vital TMO decision went their way. Again, they caused big problems in a kick chase, Pieter-Steph du Toit showing his running ability and avoiding a knock-on before Makazole Mapimpi did well to set up de Klerk to touch down.
There was no panicking from the Lions as, following Pollard’s missed conversion, Kwagga Smith infringed at the breakdown and Biggar landed the kick for a 17-13 scoreline.
The ‘Boks were now leaking penalties with increased regularity, the Lions taking them through 11 phases with Lawes twice carrying forcefully. It all led to a third successful penalty from Biggar and a one-point game.
Heading into the final quarter, a slight knock-on from Henshaw in the air counted against van der Merwe as the big Scotland winger hunted down an elusive try.
The Lions took the lead for the first time in the 62nd minute when Biggar splits the posts from wide on the left, rewarding a strong lineout drive from his pack.
As the tension grew, the freshly-introduced Hamish Watson was pinged for lifting le Roux in a tackle. It gave Pollard a sight of goal from out wide, but he slipped his kick away to the left.
The Lions’ strength in depth grew in importance, a nicely-won scrum penalty coming after Henshaw did really well to tackle Am as the ‘Boks gained big ground up towards the 22.
Luck was on the Lions’ side when de Allende had a scrappy 71st-minute try ruled out from a prior knock-on in the air from Kolbe.
With Murray and Farrell at half-back, the Lions squeezed South Africa for territory, hanging up a number of contestable kicks and keeping play in the hosts’ half.
Their well-drilled maul produced the goods once more, securing the penalty that Farrell swept home from the right. The result was not safe until Itoje grabbed a last-minute turnover to end the ‘Boks’ hopes.
With his charges taking a 1-0 lead in what is set to be an engrossing Test series, Gatland said: “The message at half-time was that we were still in the arm wrestle.
If Dan Biggar had kicked that penalty (before half-time), 12-6. We were down 12-3 and had given away a few soft penalties to allow them opportunities.
“The message was, ‘keep our patience, stay in the arm wrestle, we will get chances, don’t try and force things’. As that second half went on, we got stronger and stronger and got ourselves back into the game.
“It was a really tough, tight Test match and the bounce of a ball, it could have gone any way. Thankfully, we’ve come from behind and finished really strongly. I thought we were excellent in the last few minutes.”
The Lions head coach added: “South Africa will be hurt from this because they’re a very proud nation and world champions. Next week is going to be even bigger and tougher, I would expect.
“From our point of view, you know that no matter what happens you’re going to the last weekend of the series. That keeps everyone engaged and really interested.
“This is a really tight group of players and our non-23 did a really brilliant job this week in helping the Test 23 prepare. The victory was as much about the whole squad as the guys who took to the field.
“We feel like there is a lot more in us. From a conditioning side, we look like we’re just getting stronger and stronger. That shows how hard we’ve worked over the last six weeks or so.”
TIME LINE: 13 minutes – South Africa penalty: Handré Pollard – 3-0; 17 mins – South Africa penalty: Handré Pollard – 6-0; 19 mins – British & Irish Lions penalty: Dan Biggar – 6-3; 26 mins – South Africa penalty: Handré Pollard – 9-3; 30 mins – South Africa penalty: Handré Pollard – 12-3; 35 mins – British & Irish Lions penalty: missed by Dan Biggar – 12-3; 39 mins – British & Irish Lions penalty: missed by Elliot Daly – 12-3; Half-time – South Africa 12 British & Irish Lions 3; 43 mins – British & Irish Lions try: Luke Cowan-Dickie – 12-8; conversion: Dan Biggar – 12-10; 49 mins – South Africa try: Faf de Klerk – 17-10; conversion: missed by Handré Pollard – 17-10; 52 mins – British & Irish Lions penalty: Dan Biggar – 17-13; 55 mins – British & Irish Lions penalty: Dan Biggar – 17-16; 62 mins – British & Irish Lions penalty: Dan Biggar – 17-19; 64 mins – South Africa penalty: missed by Handré Pollard – 17-19; 78 mins – British & Irish Lions penalty: Owen Farrell – 17-22; Full-time – South Africa 17 British & Irish Lions 22
SOUTH AFRICA: Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz); Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse), Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks), Damian de Allende (Munster), Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks); Handré Pollard (Montpellier), Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks); Ox Nché (Cell C Sharks), Bongi Mbonambi (DHL Stormers), Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls), Eben Etzebeth (Toulon), Franco Mostert (Honda Heat), Siya Kolisi (Cell C Sharks) (capt), Pieter-Steph du Toit (DHL Stormers), Kwagga Smith (Yamaha Júbilo)
Replacements used: Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears) for Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers) for Nche, Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers) for Nyakane (all half-time), Lood de Jager (Sale Sharks) for Mostert (62), Rynhardt Elstadt (Toulouse) for Smith (63), Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) for le Roux (66), Elton Jantjies (Pau) for Pollard (70), Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers) for de Klerk (73).
BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs/Scotland); Anthony Watson (Bath/England), Elliot Daly (Saracens/England), Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Ireland), Duhan van der Merwe (Worcester Warriors/Scotland); Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints/Wales), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors/Scotland); Rory Sutherland (Worcester Warriors/Scotland), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs/England), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Ireland), Maro Itoje (Saracens/England), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys/Wales) (capt), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints/England), Tom Curry (Sale Sharks/England), Jack Conan (Leinster/Ireland).
Replacements used: Ken Owens (Scarlets/Wales) for Cowan-Dickie, Mako Vunipola (Saracens/England) for Sutherland, Hamish Watson (Edinburgh/Scotland) for Curry (all 56 mins), Conor Murray (Munster/Ireland) for Price (63), Owen Farrell (Saracens/England) for Daly (64), Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears/England) for Furlong, Daly for Biggar (both 66), Liam Williams (Scarlets/Wales) for van der Merwe (70), Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Ireland) for Lawes (72).
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
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The British & Irish Lions beat South Africa 17-22 in the first Test of the British & Irish Lions 2021 Series at Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town. Dan Biggar kicked four penalties and converted Luke Cowan-Dickie’s second-half try as the British & Irish Lions took a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series against a Jekyll […]
Second half turnaround delivers crucial victory for the Lions
Here are the thoughts of the Lions head coach, Warren Gatland:
“The players are jumping up and down, they’re pretty happy,” he says. “We’ve got a chance of winning the series, because of the sacrifices these players have made. In the second half, we got a few bounces of the ball, some of our carries were really good.
Itoje was, of course, MOTM and he’s giving his reflections on the game:
“These moments don’t come along often, it’s a privilege to wear this jersey and it means a lot. We want to win this series, we want to come back again next week and do the business. We had to tidy up our discipline in the second half and we had the mental fortitude to see it through.”
Not seen the official Man of the Match yet, but if it’s not Maro Itoje then I would appeal to the Supreme Court immediately.
Alun Wyn Jones (who played the full 80 minutes!) is here:
“I can’t sum up the emotions. But we’ve got a good group here and this is special. It was a tale of two halves really, but we extended out kicking game in the second half and brought more of our own tempo. But there’s another two games to go.”
What a difference a half makes
80 mins. Itoje, who has been imperious once again, hits and rips the ball to win a turnover for the Lions and the ball is out to end the game.
79 mins. Lions fail to claim the restart and the Boks are on the ball on the Lions 10 metre line!
78 mins. Du Toit is offside at the maul and Farrell takes all the time in the world to get his eye in before slotting it, dead-eyed and cold as ice from right of the posts.
75 mins. The Lions are on the ball and working phases in the South Africa half. Farrell applies some pressure by launching a kick deep into the Bok 22 and all Herschel Jantjies can do is put it into touch just outside his own 22.
Five minutes to go and the Lions in the ascendancy.
73 mins. Tadhg Beirne is on for Courntney Lawes.
The rapid Herschel Jantjies is on for Faf De Klerk.
72 mins. An utter, utter clown car shambles by the Lions as they attempt to mop up and clear a De Klerk punt into their half. The ball spills loose from Williams and Kolbe’s aerial challenge and there is a litany of shovelled crap from every Lions player before eventually it’s over the line for De Allende to dive on it.
Mercifully for the Lions, Kolbe knocked it on in the challenge with Williams to rescue their hideous collective embarassment.
70 mins. Hogg kicks a monster to clear from his own 22 that finds grass behind Kolbe and forces Willemse to snatch a kick away. In the traded possession that follows Ken Owens takes a kick full-on into his bugle and we’ll have a break while some treatment is proffered.
Elton Jantjies on for Pollard for SA.
68 mins. Sinckler and Vunipola have a big old shove in the scrum and win a penalty for the Lions which Farrell punts into touch for a lineout in Springbok half.
66 mins. More Subs
South Africa have brought on Damian Willemse for Le Roux at fullback
65 mins. Hamish Watson lifts Le Roux’s legs beyond the horizontal and gives away a penalty just in the Lions half. The Scot is very lucky not to be carded.
He’s even more lucky when Pollard misses the kick.
64 mins. Subs.
Conor Murray for Ali Price
63 mins. The Lions are ahead for the first time after BIggar slots another penalty after Springbok indiscipline in phased play.
61 mins. Van der Merwe has lost his footing a few times and that brings into focus that the surface in Cape Town is terrible. It looks like someone has been at it with a giant stanley knife and there’s still two and a bit matches to go on this pitch.
60 mins. From a scrum a flat Price pass finds Henshaw in midfield and on the recycled possession Biggar puts a big bomb up that van der Merwe grabs and is free and running. He loses his footing when attempting to sidestep and he’s held up over the line by a huge covering tackle by Etzebeth.
However, this is all irrelevant as the ref has called knock on, seeing Henshaw tapped it forward to his winger as they both challenged for the high ball.
57 mins. Subs for the Lions.
Hamish Watson on for Tom Curry.
Ken Owens for Luke Cowan-Dickie.
Mako Vunipola for Rory Sutherland.
56 mins. There’s a pattern developing here that if the Lions put the ball through phases then South Africa eventually drift offside or infringe at the ruck. After the latest session of this, Dan Biggar slots another one from 30 metres.
Whisper it, but slowly the Lions appear to be getting the measure of this match.
52 mins. From the restart the Lions put half a dozen phases together and Boks infringe, allowing Biggar to slot one from in front.
50 mins. South Africa are on the ball and moving the ball left and right through hands. The Lions appear to have decided not to compete in rucks and fan out, the sees more lateral play from the Boks and the tourists appear to be containing, but eventually Mapimpi has it on the left, chips and angled inside kick forward and after some fumbling from Du Toit and Mapimpi near the line Faf De Klerk grabs it to score.
The TMO reviews the fumbles and rightly concludes they both went backwards.
46 mins. De Allende pops out of the tackle to Am and he puts his foot through the ball on the left touchline. The ball runs into the in-goal and a chasing Willie Le Roux chases and grounds it. The ref has given it on the field but has asked the TMO to check Le Roux wasn’t in front of Am when he kicked.
It’s obsecenely tight, but the TMO decides the fulback was offside! NO TRY!
44 mins. The ball is claimed in the middle of the lineout before a maul is formed and the ball is secured by Cowan-Dickie at the back. The inevitable shove comes and the Exeter hooker does the necessary to score a crucial try in the context of the game.
42 mins. An early Lions penalty sees them on the attack in the Bok 22 after a lienout is won cleanly. Lots of one-up carries close to the ruck before Henshaw and then Hogg have a dart before Etzebeth is penalised for a high shot. Biggar spurns the kick and puts in the corner
40 mins. Pollard gets us started up again.
The Boks have changed their front row for the second half:
The absolutely outstanding news for the Lions after that howler of a half is that they are only nine points behind, but they must score first in the second half and get a plan together to play some rugby in the South Africa half.
There’s no way to dress up the fact that the Lions are being soundly beaten here. Out-thought in the kicking game, outmuscled in the tight, outmanouvered in defence and out-connived in the ruck.
Gatland should make some changes soon and I’d start with getting Hamish Watson and Tadhg Beirne on immediately as the backrow are having something of a nightmare.
PEEEEP PEEP! That’s it for the first period.
40+3 mins. Lots of chatter from the Lions about how they will shove for their lives, but Sutherland is penalised for hinging. Pollard rejects the chance to end the half and opts to put it out for a lineout, but on the next possession De Klerk kicks some sense into his team by chipping it into touch.
4o mins. From the restart, the ball is fed to Henshaw who is running free, but a covering tackle from behind by Le Roux dislodges the ball which the Lions centre was criminally carrying in one hand. Knock on and there will be time for the South African scrum to form in their own 22.
39 mins. A high tackle on Alun Wyn Jones by Mbonambi on halfway and the ball is chucked to Daly who fires his left-foot howitzer at it from a full 60 metres. He has the line bang on but it drops five metres short.
36 mins. The Boks attack Furlong in the scrum but the Leinster man not only stands strong but does some attacking of his own, forcing the front row to pop up and win a penalty for his team.
Biggar sends it towards the post from just left.. but it stays left and drifts past. Oh dear.
32 mins. For the first time, the Lions have some phases and get some rhythm on the front foot to allow some go forward through some slick passing. Eventually the ball is kicked forward by Anthony Watson but it dribbles into touch. But they come all the way back as advantage was being played for Nyakane not rolling away.
30 mins. ...And as sure as eggs are eggs, he kicks it.
29 mins. South Africa are slowly squeezing this game through a combination of a relentlessly clever territorial kicking game forcing the Lions to play their clear running plan from deep alloyed with breakdown indiscipline from the tourists.
Yet another penalty is given away at the ruck and Pollard tees it up again...
26 mins. From a South Africa scrum the ball is fed to Kolbe who is stopped in midfield before phased carries start for the home side. Elliot Daly is penalised for playing the ball off his feet in the ruck, it was a borderline one as he appeared to be on the ball before he was bumped over.
Either way, it was given and Pollard slots it from the tee.
23 mins. Etzebeth claims a lineout on the Lions 22 and Kolisi bursts from the maul to carry forward up to the five metre line, but the Bok captain’s run was of such distance he’s isolated himself and Itoje clamps on to win an important turnover.
19 mins. De Allende is offside in midfield. It’s bang in front but a good forty metres out and Biggar funnels all his skill and experience into his right boot to put his side on the board.
17 mins. Tom Curry hits De Klerk late as the scrum-half kicked and Pollard has another kickable chance to extend the lead.
That’s two penalties Curry has given away in the first quarter. His trademark eagerness to not helping at present.
15 mins. Itoje carries in and is stopped dead by Etzebeth and Du Toit and held upright before they hit the floor. Etzebeth doesn’t roll away but the ref says it’s a maul so it’s a Bok ball. He didn’t call maul, however he didn’t call tackle either so I guess we should assume it’s maul until the ref says otherwise.
13 mins. It was just left of the posts and 25 metres out. He does not miss them.
11 mins. First scrum of the match and the pitch is ripping up a bit so the ref is not penalising anyone yet for the resets, but a early engagement from the Lions front row allows Faf De Klerk to put his team back on the attack. After a couple of phases Tom Curry is penalised for not rolling away.
It’s in range and Pollard is licking his lips as he beckons the tee onto the field.
9 mins. Duhan van Der Merwe takes a nifty tip-on from Biggar and looks to be about to bear down on the fullback Le Roux, but the chilling sound of the ref’s whistle stops him in his tracks. Biggar’s pass was forward.
8 mins. Cowan-Dickie to Lawes in the lineout has been flawless so far in three lineouts and the latest one allows the Lions to set up a solid maul that is gaining some traction before Du Toit and Etzebeth swim around the side. Penalty Lions and they’ll have a lienout in the Bok half.
6 mins. South Africa have so far kicked away every possession early, in every part of the field they have had it. Clear policy to probe and test the Lions backfield cover and so far the tourists been up to the challenge. Hogg has a decent run out from his 22 but is isolated and allows a turnover.
Ferocious rucking from both teams so far.
3 mins. More clean possession from the Lions, but Am reads the midfield play and ABSOLUTELY MARMALISES Daly as the centre receives the ball. Seriously, Daly’s ancestors probably felt that.
2 mins. Luke Cowan-Dickie is accurate with his first throw in and Biggar sends a huge bomb into the South Africa 22. Van der Merwe is first to it in the air but is halted by a double whammy of knocking it on and being offside in front of the kicker.
1 min. Dan Biggar kicks deep and the real business is underway.
A fabulous rendition of the always wonderful South African anthem is punctuated by some cheeky TV direction lingering on Duhan van der Merwe’s face.
Here come the teams.
The Lions are led out by Alun Wyn Jones with BIL the lion in his left hand, the toy is dropped just before the touchline and the red tracksuits loosely gather around halfway to await the Boks.
@bloodandmud feel sorry for me - In a birthday meal for my girlfriend - I did point out the Lions are only every 4 years and her birthday occurs yearly but that didn't land well
I don’t feel sorry for you, James. You have another human being that loves you enough to spend time with you to make you happy.
30 mins until kick off.
The Lions players are out warming up and Ronan O’Gara is making the point that the tourists cannot look to simply contain the Springboks, that they must go for it early.
Hard to disagree with that, and Gatland’s selection speaks to that approach.
“Good afternoon Lee, sorry to feel obliged to offer correction,” says an unnecessarily apologetic Francis McCluskey, “but for the Six Nations Conan was indeed first choice for Ireland. He even got the MOTM award against England - which probably got him the Lions gig now”
You are, of course, right Francis. However, my reflection was more that this was in the context of the absence of Caelan Doris who was everyone’s pick for first choice for Ireland prior to his terrible injury. Hence the slight surprise that Conan has warded off the Wales and previous Lions first choice, Faletau.
South Africa have their captain, Siya Kolisi, in the starting line-up after all reports suggested his Covid protocols would prevent him taking part. His leadership will be vital in the opening hour given his pack is a little light on experience. Kwagga Smith is in at Number 8, and the starting Lions props will fancy getting into Ox Nché and Trevor Nyakane. Nyakane is particular had a horrible time in the scrum during his outing for South Africa A.
The backs have put the band back together for this huge gig, with the complete set from the original RWC winning line-up taking the field.
Warren Gatland said this week that the selection meeting for this match was the most difficult he’s have ever been involved in during his four Lions tours. Not surprising when you consider some of the selections.
Ugo Monye was on the last tour to South Africa and he shares the lessons he learned here.
Welcome to Cape Town everyone, where a game many thought would never materialise is here - South Africa vs British & Irish Lions: The First Test.
What a journey it has been to get here. In the space of the month since the Lions rolled over Japan in Edinburgh and to this very day both teams have encountered plague related disruption, doubts over the fitness of their captains and not enough quality game time to prepare. Not the ideal way for the World Champions to take on the elite that four rugby countries have to offer, but it makes for an intriguing contest in the first of this three-act drama.Continue reading...
South Africa and the British & Irish Lions meet for their third series in the professional era of rugby. Both teams have won one series each, the Lions in 1997 (2-1) and the Springboks in 2009 (2-1). This is the third time the British & Irish Lions will play the defending World Champions, the second […]
I was part of a great missed opportunity 12 years ago – Warren Gatland is right to make sure the lessons of it are learned
I’m a firm believer in the saying that you learn more in defeat than in victory and that goes a long way to explaining why Warren Gatland has so often referred back to the 2009 British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa this time around. Twelve years on and for us as players it still feels like a huge missed opportunity so it is no surprise that Gatland is making sure at every turn that lessons have been learned from that series defeat.Continue reading...