It’s been twelve long years since the British & Irish Lions last toured South Africa. The 1997 Lions series is considered by many to be one of the best, and tomorrow we’ll watch closely as the new breed of players look to emulate past success as they kick off the 2009 tour with a match against the Royal XV in Rustenburg.
The Lions have picked a fairly strong side, minus players who were involved in big matches recently. The match with the Royal XV should be the easiest of the tour as they’ll be up against a bunch of unknown players who won’t have too much cohesion.
The side was announced yesterday and they’re raring to go.
“After all the preparation the match against the Royal XV on Saturday marks the start of the 2009 tour. Everyone in the tour party is looking forward to getting the playing part of the tour underway,” manager Gerald Davies said.
Coach Ian McGeechan is looking forward to the occasion, and seeing some youngsters making a name for themselves.
“I think it is really exciting that we have a lot of players making their debuts. I remember my debut against Western Transvaal at Potchefstroom in 1974 and it is a career highlight.
“For young men such as Keith Earls and Jamie Roberts it will be a day to remember and they will be thrilled to get an early taste of match action on the tour. Outside these guys is the proven experienced combination of the Ospreys’ back three of Byrne, Bowe and Shane Williams.”
This advert, which features the HSBC Lions ambassadors Gavin Hastings, Gareth Edwards, Jason Robinson, and Brian O’Driscoll, is just a bit of fun ahead of the tour.
British & Irish Lions team:
Lee Byrne, Tommy Bowe, Keith Earls, Jamie Roberts, Shane Williams, Ronan O’Gara, Mike Blair, Andy Powell, Martyn Williams, Joe Worsley, Paul O’Connell, Simon Shaw, Adam Jones, Matthew Rees, Andrew Sheridan
Replacements: Lee Mears, Phil Vickery, Alun-Wyn Jones, Stephen Ferris, Mike Phillips, Stephen Jones, Riki Flutey
Royal XV team:
Russell Jeacocks, Egon Seconds, Deon van Rensburg, Hanno Coetzee, Bjorn Basson, Naas Olivier, Sarel Pretorius, Jonathan Mokuena, Devon Raubenheimer, Wilhelm Koch, Jacques Lombaard, Rudi Mathee, Bees Roux, Rayno Barnes, Albertus Buckle.
Replacements: Pellow van der Westhuizen, Stef Roberts, Rynard Landman, RW Kember, Jacques Coetzee, Riaan Viljoen, Jovan Bowles.