British & Irish Lions Named & How Our Predictions Held Up

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We spent a long time selecting this squad and there were some close calls with a lot of competition for places. But ultimately we chose the players who will give us the best chance of a Test series victory. A [British & Irish Lions] Tour to Australia only comes around once every 12 years and we believe we have the right balance in the squad to be successful. We have a tremendous challenge in front of us but I know the players will be dedicated to the adventure and task ahead.”Warren Gatland

The 1997 Lions, the last to win a test series
The 1997 Lions, the last to win a test series

New York, NY – At long last, Warren Gatland named the collection of rugby stars that will make history as the newest incarnation of the British and Irish Lions. For those of you in the newer rugby hotbeds like Russia, Japan, Canada the The States, being named to this squad is one of the most prestigious and honorable selections in all of sports.  Imagine a sport like baseball picking a team from the USA, Canada and Mexico. You’d have to be pretty exceptional to be on that squad… and the same is true for the British and Irish Lions.

But before we get to the actual squad, let’s take a look at what our Expert Panel, comprised of  of West Ghana’s Rugby Rain Man Junoir Blaber, Ireland’s quick-witted fly-half (that’s redundant) Kevin Fegan, infamous Ireland prop, Declan Yeats, feisty French #8 Pyk O’Kallapfer, contrived Kiwi Johnathan Wicklow Barberie and England’s own Jamie Loyd came up with…

1. Loosehead Prop: Cian Healy
2. Hooker: Rory Best
3. Tighthead Prop: Adam Jones
4. Loosehead Lock: Brad Davies
5. Tighthead Lock: Paul O’Connell
6. Blindside Flanker: Sean O’Brien
7. Openside Flanker: Sam Warburton (Captain)
8. Eightman : Toby Faletau
9. Scrumhalf: Mike Phillips
10. Flyhalf: Johnie Sexton
11. Blindside Wing: Stuart Hogg
12. Inside Center: Jamie Roberts
13. Outside Center: Brian O’Driscoll
14. Openside Wing: George North
15. Fullback: Leigh Halfpenny

16. Reserve Hooker: Richard Hibbard
17. Reserve Loosehead Prop: Ryan Grant
18. Reserve Tighthead Prop: Dan Cole
19. Reserve Lock: Richie Gray
20. Reserve Backrow: Justin Tipuric
21. Reserve Scrumhalf: Ben Youngs
22. Reserve FlyHalf: Dan Biggar
23. Reserve Utility Back: James Hook

24. Gethin Jenkins
25. Tom Youngs
26. Mike Ross
27. Alun Wyn-Jones
28. Nathan Hines
29. Chris Robshaw
30. Jamie Heaslip
31. Dan Lydiate
32. Greig Laidlaw
33. Billy Twelvetrees
34. Manu Tualagi
35. Jonathan Davies
36. Tommy Bowe
37. Christian Wade
38. Chis Ashton
39. Mike Brown

Gatland Warburton British & Irish LionsNow for Coach Gatland’s squad, which will be captained by 24-year-old Sam Warburton (with Gatland and the rather stuffy lion)…  You’ll note that we were wrong, along with many others, about England’s Chris Robshaw and Ireland’s Rory Best.  Also, England 2003 Rugby World Cup hero, Sir Jonny Wilkinson was left out:

Fullbacks: Leigh Halfpenny (Wales, Cardiff Blues), Stuart Hogg (Scotland, Glasgow Warriors), Rob Kearney (Ireland, Leinster)

Wings: Tommy Bowe (Ireland, Ulster), Alex Cuthbert (Wales, Cardiff Blues), Sean Maitland (Scotland, Glasgow Warriors), George North (Wales, Scarlets)

Centres: Jonathan Davies (Wales, Scarlets), Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland, Leinster), Jamie Roberts (Wales, Cardiff Blues), Manusamoa Tuilagi (England, Leicester Tigers)

Fly-halves: Owen Farrell (England, Saracens), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland, Leinster)

Scrum halves: Conor Murray (Ireland, Munster), Mike Phillips (Wales, Bayonne), Ben Youngs (England, Leicester Tigers)

Lions make for interesting bedfellows.

Props: Dan Cole (England, Leicester Tigers), Cian Healy (Ireland, Leinster), Gethin Jenkins (Wales, Toulon), Adam Jones (Wales, Ospreys), Matt Stevens (England, Saracens), Mako Vunipola (England, Saracens)

Hookers: Dylan Hartley (England, Northampton Saints), Richard Hibbard (Wales, Ospreys), Tom Youngs (England, Leicester Tigers)

Locks: Ian Evans (Wales, Ospreys), Richie Gray (Scotland, Sale Sharks), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales, Ospreys), Paul O’Connell (Ireland, Munster), Geoff Parling (England, Leicester Tigers)

Back rows: Tom Croft (England, Leicester Tigers), Toby Faletau (Wales, Newport Gwent Dragons), Jamie Heaslip (Ireland, Leinster), Dan Lydiate (Wales, Newport Gwent Dragons), Sean O’Brien (Ireland, Leinster), Justin Tipuric (Wales, Ospreys), Sam Warburton (Wales, Cardiff Blues)

It’s a great squad, despite some surprising omissions and our call as Brian O’Driscoll as captain. But as Gatland said:
“There was a robust debate about the squad and there were healthy discussions for every position. Some real quality players have missed out… We had a thorough process and it’s been tough… If you look at previous tours six to eight players get injured and there will be a group of back-up players who can be called upon.”

That is it for now, feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter @RugbyWrapUp, @JunoirBlaber, @Declan Yeats, @Mathew Drew Turner and @Ebstide52, respectively. And until the next time… stay low and keep pumping those legs.

About Junoir Blaber 868 Articles
Born in Osu, Accra, Ghana, West Africa, Junoir Blaber is a rare commodity; while most Ghanians eat, sleep and dream Soccer (football), Junoir is all about Rugby. A self-proclaimed Rugbyologist, he has been involved in Rugby as a ref, coach, administrator and player since Columbus discovered Ohio. His useful/trivial rugby knowledge qualify Blaber as RWU's Senior Correspondent & known in rugby circles as The Rugby Rain Man. He can also be found moonlighting for our American partners at