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Wizards of Oz – British and Irish Lions 2013

Wizards of Oz – British and Irish Lions 2013 Preface Great British Isles rugby British and Irish Lions Tour 2013 It had been a long four year wait for the 2013 edition of the British and Irish Rugby tour to Oz. No surprises then that Microsoft wanted desperately to be a major sponsor - very fitting. The world's greatest and most influential behemoth being associated with the cream of Euro Rugby. The greatest and most enchanting rugby institution, is, after all the stuff dreams are made of. This establishment in similar vein to the Windsors and the Royals, Pimms, Jaguar, Rolls Royce, Shakespeare - a brand that only history, tradition and pedigree can buy. All that espouses tradition,quality, refinement and class, is displayed in this team in awesome power and in every context. Regions are defined and identified by the "tourism" and "export" they offer. Europe offers solid Christian Judeo Zionist Western values, Asia a mix of majority pagan and bad quality imitation ( please understand this is a general commonly held perception by the West ). The Middle East, identified by the Ishmaelites, is a region imbued by a spirit of error and death and attempts to import this political system around the world. No wonder that they are vociferously against, the Spirit of Christ, the Prince of Peace. This quaint region on earth, where to date a 3 year insurrection and civil war within a myriad of countries therein, is touted not as a winter of strife and mayhem, but an Arab spring - go figure. The battle, however is the Lord's and the Word plainly says He will uproot that not of His planting, that those who do not have Him, even what they seem to have will be taken from them and that He has imbued a spirit in them to warp their judgment - but we digress. An anti-Christian political system that is a euphemism for hate and terror - but we digress again. The good Ol Four Home Unions, the region comprising four countries within the imperious European Union, has this rugby firm as one of its greatest exports. Without doubt, the world's most acquisitive rugby brand. The Earl's Court, Kensington and Knightsbridge of the rugby world, the fine and distinguished to one of the greater themes of life – rugby. This Tour would seek and find beautiful character – a British and Irish Lions Tour always has. British and Irish Lions rugby is as close to middle Britain as the Holy Spirit is to the believer. If the Lions emanated from the greatest and only remaining new world superpower, the U.S, it would be listed on the Nasdaq, a marketing phenomena - in the same league as Apple and Microsoft et al. Ivy league at its finest. As it turns out the Lions are a United Rugby State of mind. A crackling, sparkling, popping champagne effect that gives life added savour. This was going to be a special Commonwealth rugby experience. A piece of Chelsea and Earls Court, into the colonies. At core within any civilization, are the structures that make up that whole. On their own they seem innocuous enough but in concert with the other constituent parts, they make up the spectacular. British and Irish rugby is integral and vital as rugby seeks to sublimate the maelstrom of passions within the 21st century, in a gentlemanly fashion. As within life, social commentary and with relevance here, rugby commentators, do not operate within a vacuum. The biggest threat to society and democracy as a whole is for the watchmen to identify the enemy, the opponent - and in the broader context, political correctness and the liberal left. This rugby lifestyle is a great metaphor for life. Combat between the 30 men working symphonically within a set of rules, albeit opponents, is a great life allegory. The summary of the latest chapter in the British and Irish Lions saga would be a good report. Chapter 1 Fixtures, Management Sat 1 Jun Barbarians V British & Irish Lions | Hong Kong Stadium Wednesday 5th June 2013 Western Force V British & Irish Lions Patersons Stadium | Saturday 8th June 2013 Queensland Reds V British & Irish Lions Suncorp Stadium Tuesday 11th June 2013 Combined NSW-QLD Country V British & Irish Lions Hunter Stadium Saturday 15th June 2013 NSW Waratahs V British & Irish Lions Allianz Stadium Tuesday 18th June 2013 Brumbies V British & Irish Lions Canberra Stadium Saturday 22nd June 2013 Qantas Wallabies V British & Irish Lions Suncorp Stadium Tuesday 25th June 2013 Melbourne Rebels V British & Irish Lions AAMI Stadium Saturday 29th June 2013 Qantas Wallabies V British & Irish Lions Etihad Stadium Saturday 6th July 2013 Qantas Wallabies V British & Irish Lions ANZ Stadium Management Coaching and Conditioning Warren Gatland - Head Coach Rob Howley - Assistant Coach Graham Rowntree - Assistant Coach Andy Farrell - Assistant Coach Neil Jenkins - Assistant Coach Adam Beard - Head of strength and conditioning Paul Stridgeon - Fitness Coach Brian Cunniff - Sports Scientist Rhys Long - Head of Performance Analysis Rhodri Bown - Video Analyst Michael Hughes - Video Analyst Tour Management Andy Irvine - Tour Manager John Feehan - Chief Executive Charlie McEwen - Director of Sales and Marketing James Robson - Doctor Eanna Falvey - Doctor Richard Wegryzyk - Masseur Bob Stewart - Physio Phil Pask - Physio Prav Mathema - Physio Operations and Security Guy Richardson - Operations Director Gerard Carmody - Logistics Officer Patrick O'Reilly - Baggage Master Max Duthie - Lawyer Neil Strang - Head of Security Media and Communications Greg Thomas - Media and Comms Dave Barton - Media Manager Christine Connolly - Communications Manager Chapter 2 Squad Rory Best DOB 15th Aug 1982 Birthplace Craigavon (Northern Ireland) Height 1.80 m (5' 11") Weight 105 kg (16 st 7 lb) Position Hooker Honours Ireland Rory David BEST Ireland Caps: 67 (35-2-20) Ireland Points: 35 (7t) Ireland Debut: v New Zealand (rep) 2005 British & Irish Lions: First Tour Lions Debut: 05/06/2013 v Western Force Test Record v Australia: 5 (2-0-3) Rory Best was called up to join the British & Irish Lions tour party the day before the squad left for Hong Kong and Australia in the wake of the suspension of Dylan Hartley. He was due to captain the Irish squad on their two-Test North American tour this summer, but instead joins his Ulster Rugby team mate Tommy Bowe with the Lions. Having graduated through the Ireland Under 21 team at the Junior World Cup in 2003, and then featured for Ireland A, Best’s 67-cap career with Ireland began against New Zealand in 2005. His first four appearances came off the bench before he posted successive victories over South Africa and Australia with his first two starts in 2006. He was first choice in Ireland’s 2007 Triple Crown campaign and shared the duties with Jerry Flannery in the 2009 Grand Slam season. He played for Ireland in the 2007 and 2011 Rugby World Cups, starting in the Pool win over Australia two years ago, and has three wins to his credit in four outings as the Irish captain. Raised on the family farm in Poyntzpass, County Armagh, he studied agriculture at Newcastle University, where he was a member of the Newcastle Falcons Academy. He earned his first Ulster contract in 2004 after captaining Belfast Harlequins. He helped Ulster win the Celtic League in 2005/2006 and followed elder brother Simon as club captain in 2007. The two brothers had the distinction of packing down together in the front row for both Ulster and Ireland. He missed the whole of the 2009/10 season after undergoing neck surgery, but returned to forced his way into Ireland’s World Cup team and then helped Ulster reach the 2012 Heineken Cup final. Two days before the Lions squad left for Hong Kong he played in the Ulster side that lost to Leinster in the RaboDirect PRO12 final in Dublin. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Tommy Bowe DOB 22nd Feb 1984 Birthplace Height 1.91 m (6' 3") Weight 92 kg (14 st 6 lb) Position Winger Honours Ireland / Lions Thomas John BOWE Ireland Caps: 51 (27-2-22) Ireland Points: 130 (26t) Ireland Debut: v USA 2004 British & Irish Lions: 2009 (SA) Tests: 3 (1-0-2) Lions Debut: 30/05/2009 v Royal XV Test Record v Australia: 5 (1-1-3), 5pts (1t) Tommy Bowe has won a place on his second British & Irish Lions tour, having been a shining light on the 2009 tour to South Africa where he played in all three Test matches. Bowe missed the 2013 RBS 6 Nations after surgery on a knee injury, but the deceptively quick and versatile back is ready to fire once again after glimpses of his quality in recent weeks. His ability to finish on a consistent basis at international level is there for all the Lions selectors to see with a formidable record of 26 tries in 51 appearances for Ireland added to the fact he can play on the right wing or centre. Bowe, a former Monaghan minor Gaelic footballer, made a try-scoring debut for Ulster against Connacht at the end of the 2003/04 season He made his Ireland bow versus the USA during the 2004 Autumn Internationals, becoming the first player from County Monaghan to win a senior international cap in 80 years. It was not until the 2008 RBS 6 Nations that Bowe, who had joined the Welsh region, the Ospreys, really established himself in the Irish national set-up. He scored two tries in that campaign and repeated that feat a year later as Ireland sealed their Grand Slam victory over Wales in Cardiff. His form saw him book a place on the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa in 2009 where he was one of the stand-out performers. Bowe finished second behind Jamie Roberts for the Player of the Series. Individual accolades flowed in 2010 including the RBS 6 Nations Player of the Championship, the IRUPA Players' Player of the Year and the Rugby Writers of Ireland Player of the Year. He returned to Ulster ahead of the 2012/13 season after a four year spell with the Ospreys where he enhanced his reputation as a deadly finisher. Injuries have curtailed his progress, with Bowe only recently returning to the field after a four-month lay-off following knee ligament damage sustained in the Heineken Cup game with Northampton Saints in December. Bowe made his comeback in April and scored in back-to-back games, his recent finish against Connacht a record breaking 50th Celtic League try. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Dan Cole DOB 9th May 1987 Birthplace Height 1.91 m (6' 3") Weight 121 kg (19 st 0 lb) Position Prop Honours England Daniel Richard COLE England Caps: 40 (24-2-24) England Points: 5 (1t) England Debut: v Wales* 2010 British & Irish Lions: First Tour Lions Debut: 05/06/2012 v Western Force Test Record v Australia: 4 (2-0-2) Dan Cole has become the cornerstone of the England scrum since making his international debut as a replacement in the victory over Wales at Twickenham in 2010. The Leicester prop has missed just one of England’s last 41 Tests and started all five games in 2011 World Cup and both the 2012 and 2013 RBS 6 Nations Championship. Never more has he had an impact in the white jersey than with his formidable performance in the 21-20 victory over Australia at Sydney in June 2010. Despite suffering a cut and badly swollen left eye, his sheer determination was hailed by team-mate Lewis Moody as inspirational, in only his seventh Test appearance. Born in Leicester, he is a former pupil of Martin Johnson’s old school in Market Harborough and began his rugby as a flanker with South Leicester RFC. He swiftly emerged through the Tigers Academy and spent two successful seasons on loan at Bedford Blues between 2006 and 2008. International honours began with his part in England U18 winning the Association European Rugby (AER) festival in Lille and he played in every game in the U19 Six Nations and IRB World Championship in 2006, in which he helped the side to a third place finish in Dubai. The following year, he was a member of the England U20 squad in the Six Nations Championship and went on to start all four England Saxons’ games in 2009, including three in the Barclays Churchill Cup. Working under the likes of British & Irish Lions forwards coach Graham Rowntree at Welford Road, his Test career unfolded after just 21 senior starts for Tigers. Short-listed for PRA Young Player of the Year in 2009/10, he played in three successive Premiership finals and has become ever-present for England and has gone on to make more than 100 appearances for Leicester. His scored his one Test try with only his third cap, against Ireland in 2010. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Alex Corbisiero DOB 30th Aug 1988 Birthplace Height 1.88 m (6' 2") Weight 114 kg (17 st 13 lb) Position Prop Alexander Richard CORBISIERO England Caps: 18 (12-0-6) England Points: 0 England Debut: v Italy 2011 British & Irish Lions: First Tour Lions Debut: NA Test Record v Australia: 0 Alex Corbisiero was called up to join the 2013 British & Irish Lions squad from Argentina, where he was on tour with England. He was brought to Australia to replace the injured loose head prop, Cian Healy. Born in New York, he moved to England at the age of four and learned his rugby at the Hall School, Wimbledon, and playing through the age grades at KCS Old Boys, London Scottish, Cobham and London Welsh. He then joined the London Irish Academy and won honours at England Under 18, Under 19, Under 20 and Saxon levels. He also played for the USA Under 19 team, qualifying through birth, and was also eligible, via his grandfather, to play for Italy. He helped England Under 20 complete the Grand Slam in 2008 and made his full England debut against Italy in the 2011 RBS 6 Nations when he came in for the injured Andrew Sheridan. Since then he has played at the 2011 Rugby World Cup and was an ever present in the English front row in the 2012 6 Nations. He helped London Irish reach the Premiership final in 2009, but is moving on to join Northampton Saints next season after five seasons with the Irish. A knee injury wrecked his season, and seemingly his chances of playing for the Lions, but he returned to full fitness at the end of the season and was selected to tour with England in Argentina, where he won selection of the first Test against the Pumas. Then came the call from the Lions and he began winging his way from South America to Australia. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Tom Croft DOB 7th Nov 1985 Birthplace Height 1.96 m (6' 5") Weight 104 kg (16 st 5 lb) Position Flanker Honours England / Lions Thomas Richard CROFT England Caps: 38 (22-0-16) England Points: 20 (4t) England Debut: v France* 2008 British & Irish Lions: 2009 (SA) Tests: 3 (1-0-2) Lions Debut: 03/06/2009 v Golden Lions Test Record v Australia: 5 (2-0-3) Tom Croft’s selection for the British & Irish Lions owes as much to his character and determination as it does to the athleticism that has helped him stand out for the past six years. In April 2012, he feared his career was over after fracturing vertebrae in three places in helping Leicester Tigers to a crucial win over Harlequins. He was told by his specialist that he had come as close as was possible to being paralysed yet following surgery to insert a metal plate and four screws into his neck, he has made a remarkable return to top flight rugby. After taking his first step back against Worcester Warriors, the blindside flanker appeared for England a year since his previous cap, off the bench against Italy in this year’s RBS 6 Nations, before starting against Wales in Cardiff. This will be his second Lions tour despite initially being omitted from 2009 squad for South Africa. Not only was he called upon to replace the suspended Alan Quinlan before the tour party departed, but scored a try on his debut against the Golden Lions and then became the first forward in Lions’ history to score two tries against the Springboks during the first Test in Durban. In contrast, it had taken 21 appearances since making his Test debut against France in 2008 before scoring his maiden try for England. That was against Samoa in November 2010, though the following week, he fractured his right shoulder blade against South Africa. He claimed his second try on his return the following February, against Scotland, his third against Romania in the 2011 Rugby World Cup, in which he started all five games, and his fourth set up a famous win over France in Paris last year. Fast and agile, Croft took his first rugby steps with Newbury before switching to the Leicester Tigers Academy and excelled for England Schools and the U21 side that won the Grand Slam in 2006. He became a member of the England Sevens’ squad the following year and scored a try in the 17-13 triumph over New Zealand Maori in the 2007 Churchill Cup final at Twickenham. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Alex Cuthbert DOB 5th Apr 1990 Birthplace Height 1.98 m (6' 6") Weight 104 kg (16 st 5 lb) Position Winger Honours Wales Alexander Charles Gordon CUTHBERT Wales Caps: 18 (9-0-9) Wales Points: 45 (9t) Wales Debut: v Australia* 2011 British & Irish Lions: First Tour Lions Debut: 01/06/2013 v Barbarians Test Record v Australia: 5 (0-0-5) – 5pts (1t) Alex Cuthbert scored two tries in the RBS 6 Nations finale against England, to help Wales defend their Championship crown and deny the auld enemy a first Grand Slam in a decade. What made the feat all the more staggering was the fact that the 23-year-old scored with a grade-2 tear of his hamstring. In total, the Cardiff Blues wing crossed the whitewash four times during the RBS 6 Nations to become the tournament’s top try scorer in 2013. He clearly has a nose for the line with nine tries for Wales in 18 Tests and 22 from 31 for the Blues. Remarkably he only took up rugby at the age of 16 while at Hartpury College, where he was coached by former Wales international coach Allan Lewis. He had previously focused on competitive show jumping, athletics and football, where he had been a promising striker on the books of Gloucester City. But he turned his attention to rugby and first came to the attention of Wales selectors while playing for Marauders RFC in the Middlesex Sevens. He was invited to train with the Wales Sevens Squad and later moved to Cardiff to study Sports and Business Development at UWIC. He has twice represented Wales Sevens in Hong Kong, where Warren Gatland’s men kick-off the 2013 tour against the Barbarians on June 1. He reached the Bowl Final in 2010, in a team that also contained Wales flanker Justin Tipuric. He soon graduated to the Blues academy and plied his trade for Cardiff RFC before enjoying a meteoric rise in the last two years. The 6ft 6ins, 17 stone flyer made he debut for the Blues in September 2011 and was quickly selected by Warren Gatland following the World Cup. He made his international debut in Wales’ December Test with Australia in the same year and has started all but one of his country’s matches since. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jonathan Davies DOB 5th Apr 1988 Birthplace Height 1.86 m (6' 1") Weight 103 kg (16 st 3 lb) Position Centre Honours Wales Jonathan James Vaughan DAVIES Wales Caps: 36 (20-0-16) Wales Points: 45 (9t) Wales Debut: v Canada 2009 British & Irish Lions: First Tour Lions Debut: 01/06/2013 v Barbarians Test Record v Australia: 6 (0-0-6), 5pts (1t) Jonathan Davies has become an integral part of Wales’ midfield since making his international debut on the tour of North America in 2009.The Scarlets star has formed a formidable partnership with Jamie Roberts – with the duo becoming Wales’ most capped centre combination overtaking a previous British & Irish Lions duo of Steve Fenwick and Ray Gravell – to propel their country to back-to-back RBS 6 Nations titles. Renowned for his attacking nous, he is also strong in defence and has been central in Wales’ record-breaking rearguard action that kept four consecutive clean sheets in theRBS 6 Nations. Although born in Solihull, England, he moved to west Wales at a young age and began his rugby career at Whitland RFC, the same club as scrum-half Mike Phillips represented. He played age-grade rugby with Llanelli RFC and soon graduated to the Scarlets, where he has now made more than 100 appearances. His early years at the west Wales region were hampered by injuries, notably a serious knee complaint during the Under 19 World Championships in 2006. But he was a key component in the Wales Under 20 side that reached the Junior World Championships semi-finals in 2008, under the leadership of Sam Warburton and alongside Leigh Halfpenny . After making his senior debut against Canada, he scored two tries against USA and was retained in Warren Gatland’s autumn squad.By 2011 the 25-year-old had established himself as a first-choice centre for Wales and he featured in every match of their march to the World Cup semi-finals. He also started every encounter of their 2012 and 2013 Championship triumphs. He has 36 Tests and nine tries to his name, including a try in Wales’ agonising 25-23 loss to Australia in June, 2012.. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Ian Evans DOB 4th Oct 1984 Birthplace Johannesburg (South Africa) Height 2.03 m (6' 8") Weight 108 kg (17 st 0 lb) Position Lock Honours Wales Ian Richard EVANS Wales Caps: 30 (16-1-13) Wales Points: 5 (1t) Wales Debut: v Argentina 2006 British & Irish Lions: First Tour Lions Debut: 05/06/2013 v Western Force Test Record v Australia: 2 (0-1-1) Ian Evans has become an ever-present feature in the Wales set-up and played in every match of their back-to-back RBS 6 Nations titles. He is one of five members of the Ospreys pack heading to Hong Kong and Australia with the 2013 British & Irish Lions. Despite playing just 30 matches for his country, he has already racked up three Championship crowns. He was even described as Wales’ lucky charm having gone unbeaten in the tournament until this season’s loss to Ireland. He began playing rugby at Abercwmboi RFC before joining Pontypridd RFC and then Swansea RFC. While at the All Whites he was picked up by the Ospreys academy. The giant lock represented Wales at both Under 19 and Under 21 level and was part of the latter side’s Grand Slam in 2005, where he formed an impressive boiler house partnership with Bradley Davies. He made his Ospreys debut in the same year and he was soon called into the Wales senior set-up, making his debut against Argentina in June 2006. He galloped 60 metres to score a memorable try on his debut against the Pumas but has failed to cross the whitewash for his country since. The 28-year-old was then part of the Wales side that claimed a 29-29 draw with Australia in the following autumn but from there his international career became intermittent due to a succession of knee injuries. He returned during 2008 and played an integral role in the 2008 Grand Slam but was again derailed by injury, this time chest and ankle problems. Nonetheless, he stayed injury free at the beginning of 2011 and despite missing out on the World Cup he forced his way back into Warren Gatland’s plans for the December Test with the Wallabies. He has since established himself as one of the first names on the Wales team-sheet and started every match of their triumphant Six Nations campaigns in 2012 and 2013. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Toby Faletau DOB 12th Nov 1990 Birthplace Height 1.88 m (6' 2") Weight 109 kg (17 st 2 lb) Position No. 8 Honours Wales Tangaki Taulupe FALETAU Wales Caps: 26 (14-0-12) Wales Points: 10 (2t) Wales Debut: v Barbarians 2011 British & Irish Lions: First Tour Lions Debut: 01/06/2013 v Barbarians Test Record v Australia: 4 (0-0-4) Toby Faletau burst onto the international stage in 2011 and has established himself as one of Wales’ most consistent performers. The Tongan-born No.8 has started 26 of their 29 matches since making his debut against the Barbarians and has played his part in two RBS 6 Nations titles. Toby is renowned for his athleticism and is equally effective with ball in hand or in defence with a tireless work-rate. The 22-year-old moved to South Wales in 1998, when his father, Tongan lock Kuli Faletau, joined Ebbw Vale. He grew up with cousins and England internationals Billy and Mako Vunipola, whose father Fe’ao also moved to the steel-making town. Faletau was picked up by Newport Gwent Dragons while studying at Bristol Academy of Sport at Filton College. He made his regional debut against Edinburgh in 2009. Later that year he was selected by Wales Under 20s and he featured heavily in the 2010 Six Nations and Junior World Cup. His scintillating form for the Dragons saw him force his way into the senior set-up. He was an unused squad member throughout the autumn and RBS 6 Nations but picked up the Young Player award for the Magners League, Welsh Rugby Writers association and Welsh Rugby Players Association. He made his international debut against the Barbarians in June, 2011, becoming the first Pacific Islander to represent Wales. He retained his place in Warren Gatland’s squad for the World Cup and announced himself as a global star. He started all seven of Wales’ matches and was the tournaments top ball carrier and tackler, with a 100 per cent completion rate. The Dragons powerhouse has continued to excel for both region and country, making 57 appearances for the Gwent region and playing an integral role in Wales’ Championship success. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Owen Farrell DOB 24th Sep 1991 Birthplace Billinge Height 1.88 m (6' 2") Weight 96 kg (15 st 1 lb) Position Fly Half Honours England Owen Andrew FARRELL England Caps: 16 (9-1-6) England Points: 154 (11c 43p 1d) England Debut: v Scotland 2012 British & Irish Lions: First Tour Lions Debut: 01/06/2013 v Barbarians Test Record v Australia: 1 (0-0-1) Owen Farrell has taken senior rugby by such a storm that has was nominated for the 2012 IRB Player of the Year award. The Saracens outside half missed out to All Blacks captain Richie McCaw for the top award, although three days later he played a vital role in England’s record win over New Zealand with 17 points at Twickenham. However, his nomination alongside Dan Carter and Frederic Michalak capped a staggering rise in such a short space of time. And now he will create history alongside defence coach Andy Farrell as the first father-and-son to tour on the same British & Irish Lions tour. His uncle, Sean O’Loughlin, captained Wigan and also played rugby league for both England and Great Britain. Five years ago, Owen became the youngest player at the time to make his debut in the professional game, less than one month after his 17th birthday, and his combination of game management, kicking and a strong defence saw him make a swift impact. He represented England at U16, as captain, U17 and U18 and was part of the England U20 team that won the Grand Slam in 2011 and reached the IRB Junior World Cup final. That final in Italy, against New Zealand, came just a month after Farrell scored 17 points in Saracens 22-17 won over Leicester Tigers in the Premiership final. He made his Test debut in the 2012 Calcutta Cup game against Scotland at centre before he was handed the No 10 jersey against Wales. He played in each of England’s next 15 Test matches, including a man of the match display against Ireland in this year’s 6 Nations, until thigh injury ruled him out of the match against Italy. A product of St George’s School in Harpenden, he is studying Business at Hertfordshire University. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Ryan Grant DOB 8th Oct 1985 Birthplace Height 1.83 m (6' 0") Weight 109 kg (17 st 2 lb) Position Prop Ryan GRANT Scotland Caps: 10 (5-0-5) Scotland Points: 0 Scotland Debut: v Australia 2012 British & Irish Lions: First Tour Lions Debut: NA Test Record v Australia: 1 (1-0-0) Ryan Grant was called into the British & Irish Lions squad on Friday, 7 June to provide cover for the injured Gethin Jenkins. He was preparing to play for Scotland against Samoa in South Africa before boarding a plane from Johannesburg bound for Brisbane. He arrived in Australia in time to join the Lions on their trek to Newcastle for he fourth game of their tour, taking him back to the Hunter Stadium venue at which he made a winning start to his Scottish career a year earlier in the 9-6 win over the Qantas Wallabies – Scotland’s first win on Aussie soil in 30 years. He also featured in further summer tour Test victories in Samoa and Fiji last year, the first time the Scots had gone undefeated on tour. The only game he has failed to start since his debut was the defeat to Tonga in Aberdeen. His reputation as a strong scrummaging and highly mobile prop grew throughout the 2013 RBS 6 Nations campaign. Although born in Scotland, he was educated at the Alice Smith School in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and joined the Army after school. It was while serving with the Royal Signals, from where he played for the Army and the Combined Services, that he made his Scotland U21 debut against France in 2006. He also featured in all five games in the IRB World Junior Championships in France that same year. He made his Scotland A debut in Perth against Italy in 2007, while still an apprentice with Border Reivers, and switched to Edinburgh in the summer of 2007. He went on to win two more ‘A’ caps in 2011 and 2012, crossing for a try against Italy at Galashiels, by which time he had transferred from Edinburgh to Glasgow Warriors to make a clean sweep of the Scottish professional teams. He was named in Scotland’s 40-strong provisional Rugby World Cup squad in 2011, but didn’t make the cut. His two tries in the Warriors’ demolition job on reigning champions the Ospreys at Scotstoun was critical in steering his club into the RaboDirect PRO12 Play-Offs, and earning him a place in the tournament’s end of season ‘Dream Team’. In addition to playing rugby, he is also an RADI adventure diver. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Richie Gray DOB 24th Aug 1989 Birthplace Height 2.05 m (6' 9") Weight 120 kg (18 st 12 lb) Position Lock Honours Scotland Richard James GRAY Scotland Caps: 31 (13-0-18) Scotland Points: 5 (1t) Scotland Debut: v France (rep) 2010 British & Irish Lions: First Tour Lions Debut: 01/06/2013 v Barbarians Test Record v Australia: 1 (1-0-0) Richie Gray wins selection for his first Lions tour having become one of the stand-out performers in the Scotland pack since making his international debut in 2010. The former Kelvinside Academy student, who played his club rugby at Glasgow Hawks before joining Glasgow Warriors in 2008, represented Scotland at every age-grade level from U17-U20. He was heavily involved for Scotland U20s in the 2009 Six Nations and captained the side in their 35-20 victory over Ireland. By the end of the tournament he had started every match and he repeated the feat during the Junior World Championships in Japan. Gray made his senior debut the following year, coming off the bench in Scotland’s RBS 6 Nations defeat to France. He continued to make an impact as a replacement and earned his first start in the autumn international against New Zealand in Edinburgh. Since then Gray has amassed 31 caps, scoring his first and so far only try in a man of the match performance against Ireland in 2012. He was a key part of the Scotland side that claimed a famous victory over Australia in Newcastle last June, playing every minute and making a colossal 17 tackles in the 9-6 success. His 2013 RBS 6 Nations was cut short due to a hamstring injury picked up against Wales – a setback that means the 23-year-old hasn’t featured since that narrow loss at Murrayfield in March. On the domestic stage, Gray left Glasgow Warriors to join Sale Sharks after four years in 2012, but left the Aviva Premiership club at the end of April. He will join the French side Castres Olympique in July, but will be 'Unattached' during the Lions tour. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Leigh Halfpenny DOB 22nd Dec 1988 Birthplace Height 1.78 m (5' 10") Weight 83 kg (13 st 1 lb) Position Full Back Honours Wales Stephen Leigh HALFPENNY Wales Caps: 44 (21-0-23) Wales Points: 294 (12t 18c 66p) Wales Debut: Test Debut: v South Africa 2008 British & Irish Lions: 2009 (SA) 1-1-0-0 Lions Debut: 06/06/09 v Cheetahs Test Record v Australia: 7 (0-0-7) - 61pts (1t 4c 16p) Leigh Halfpenny won the RBS 6 Nations Player of the Tournament title with 40% of the votes after steering Wales to a successful defence of their title. The full back scored 74 points to end the competition as the leading scorer for the second season in a row. He won the Man of the match awards during Wales’ victories in Paris and Rome and now has 294 points in 43 appearances for his country. He launched his career at Gorseinon RFC, along with Ospreys and Wales outside half Dan Biggar, and became their first British & Irish Lion since Lewis Jones in 1950 when he was selected for the 2009 tour to South Africa. Injuries blighted his trip as he arrived late and left early, making only one appearance against the Cheetahs. Having been discarded by the Ospreys, he moved to join the Cardiff Blues Academy and quickly established himself in their side. He played for Wales in the Under 19 and Under 20 Junior World Cups, playing under Sam Warburton’s leadership, and won his first senior cap as a wing against South Africa in November, 2008. His first 20 appearances for Wales were all on the wing before he took over as full back when he came on as a replacement against Samoa in Hamilton in the 2011 Rugby World Cup. He reverted back to the wing for the wins over Namibia and Fiji before starting at full back for the first time for Wales in the World Cup quarter-final against Ireland. Since then he has started 21 of the last 22 Welsh internationals in the No 15 jersey, missing only the Barbarians game last summer. He was Man of the Match in the narrow defeat to Australia at the Millennium Stadium in the Autumn, a game in which he was carried off on a stretcher after tackling Dave Dennis head on. He has scored 58 points in six games against the Wallabies since October, 2011. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- James Heaslip DOB 15th Dec 1983 Birthplace Tiberias, Israel Height 1.93 m (6' 4") Weight 109 kg (17 st 2 lb) Position No. 8 Honours Ireland / Lions Jamie Peter Richard HEASLIP Ireland Caps: 57 (27-3-27) Ireland Points: 40 (8t) Ireland Debut: v Pacific Islanders 2006 British & Irish Lions: 2009 (SA) Tests: 3 (1-0-2) Lions Debut: 30/05/2009 v Royal XV Test Record v Australia: 3 (1-1-1) Jamie Heaslip makes his second tour appearance with the British & Irish Lions to follow on from his successful 2009 trip to South Africa. The Leinster and Ireland back-rower was a smash hit four years ago and was one of just five players to play in every minute of the enthralling three Test-match series. Since then, Jamie has gone from strength to strength, adding two more Heineken Cup winners medals to his first collected in 2009, being nominated for the IRB International Player of the Year award and gaining the Irish captaincy. He took over the latter role from Brian O'Driscoll. Born in Israel, where his father, Brigadier General Richard Heaslip, was on duty with UNIFIL ( United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon), Jamie returned to Ireland to play in school at Newbridge College, then local club Naas before moving on to Dublin University. He starred for his country in the 2004 IRB U21 World Cup in Scotland, where Ireland finished as runners-up to New Zealand. His outstanding performances saw him nominated for the IRB U21 World Player of the Year award. He was called into the Leinster squad in the 2004/05 season and he won his first Ireland cap against the Pacific Islands in the Autumn of 2006, becoming the 1,000th player to represent the Emerald Isle. He won the RaboDirect PRO12 title with Leinster in 2008 and was a member of the victorious Ireland team that claimed the 2009 RBS 6 Nations Championship and Grand Slam before touring to South Africa with the Lions. As well as his IRB International Player of the Year nomination, Jamie's consistent performances have put him into the Celtic League Dream Team for four successive seasons. He captained Leinster in their Amlin Challenge Cup final win over Stade Francais Paris. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Richard Hibbard DOB 13th Dec 1983 Birthplace Neath Height 1.83 m (6' 0") Weight 114 kg (17 st 13 lb) Position Hooker Honours Wales Richard Martin HIBBARD Wales Caps: 23 (12-0-11) Wales Points: 5 (1t) Wales Debut: v Argentina (rep) 2006 British & Irish Lions: First Tour Lions Debut: 01/06/2013 v Barbarians Test Record v Australia: 3 (0-0-3) Richard Hibbard emerged as Wales’ top choice hooker during the 2013 RBS 6 Nations title triumph, playing in four of the five games. At club level at the Ospreys he has had to fight with Grand Slam hooker Huw Bennett for recognition and this season had 2009 British & Irish Lions test hooker Matthew Rees and Ken Owens to deal with. A product of local rugby in Aberavon, he launched his career at Taibach and Aberavon Quins before playing for the Wizards. A hugely physical player, he played rugby league for Aberavon Fighting Irish and made one appearance for the Wales A rugby league side in their 28–18 win over England in Aberavon in 2003. He moved to Swansea, where he played 81 matches, and his Ospreys debut came against Munster in the opening game of the 2004/05 season. He has since helped the region win four RaboDirect PRO12 titles and the EDF Energy Cup. His first Welsh call-up came for the 2006 tour to Argentina, when he came off the bench in the first Test against the Pumas in Puerto Madryn to join fellow Ospreys debutants Ian Evans and Alun Wyn Jones. His first six caps were all gained away from home and he made his first start in the second Test againt South Africa in 2008. His RBS 6 Nations debut came off the bench against England in 2011 and he was a replacement in all five matches in that campaign. His first RBS 6 Nations start came against France in round two this year and he bagged his first Welsh try in the win over Scotland at Murrayfield. He toured Australia with Wales in the summer of 2012, coming on as a replacement in the second Test. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Stuart Hogg DOB 24th Jun 1992 Birthplace Height 1.80 m (5' 11") Weight 83 kg (13 st 1 lb) Position Full Back Honours Scotland Stuart William HOGG Scotland Caps: 15 (5-0-10) Scotland Points: 15 (3t) Scotland Debut: v Wales (rep) 2012 British & Irish Lions: First Tour Lions Debut: 01/06/2013 v Barbarians Test Record v Australia: 1 (1-0-0) Stuart Hogg was capped for Scotland at U17, 18 and 20 levels before eventually winning his first senior cap as a replacement for Max Evans in the 2012 RBS 6 Nations game against Wales in Cardiff at the age of 19. Two weeks later he marked his first start with a try against France. Born in the Borders, he learned his rugby with Hawick Wanderers, Hawick and Heriot's before joining Glasgow Warriors. His father, John, played at full back in a championship winning side at Hawick and his elder brother Graham played for Scotland in the IRB World Sevens Series. He made his professional debut for Glasgow while still only 18 and played at the 2011 IRB Junior World Championship later in the same year. In his first full season at Glasgow he was named Warriors Young Player of the Season and Players' Young Player of the Season. To crown a magnificent start to his career he was voted Young Player of the Year in the RaboDirect PRO12. This season his form was crucial in helping the Warriors reach the Play-Offs. He was in the Scottish side that beat Australia in Newcastle in the summer of 2012 and has been an ever-present in the Scottish side in their last 14 Tests, scoring tries in the RBS 6 Nations games against England and Italy. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Adam Jones DOB 8th Mar 1981 Birthplace Morriston (Wales) Height 1.83 m (6' 0") Weight 121 kg (19 st 0 lb) Position Prop Honours Wales / Lions Adam Rhys JONES Wales Caps: 88 (44-3-41) Wales Points: 10 (2t) Wales Debut: v England (rep) 2003 British & Irish Lions: 2009 (SA) Tests: 2 (0-0-2) Lions Debut: 30/05/2009 v Royal XV Test Record v Australia: 8 (1-0-7) Adam Jones wins a place on his second Lions tour having won his fourth RBS 6 Nations title earlier this year. The 32-year-old reaffirmed his position as one of the best tighthead props in the world as he joined Gethin Jenkins, Ryan Jones and the legendary trio of Gareth Edwards, Gerald Davies and JPR Williams in a select group of Welshman to have won the Grand Slam three times. He started his domestic career at Neath, made his Wales debut against England in 2003 and has and has two international tries to his name, against Scotland in 2004 and England in 2010. A constant member of Wales' 2005 Grand Slam winning team, Jones was selected for his second successive World Cup in 2007, making two appearances, against Canada in Nantes and against Australia at the Millennium Stadium. In 2008, Jones featured in four matches of the Grand Slam-winning campaign, against England, Scotland, Ireland and France. He was then among 13 Welsh players initially selected for the 2009 Lions tour of South Africa. After shoring up the Lions' scrum as a replacement in the first Test, Jones started the second international alongside fellow countrymen Jenkins and Matthew Rees. This was the first time an all-Welsh front row was selected for a Lions Test match since Billy Williams, Bryn Meredith and Courtney Meredith achieved the same feat in 1955. Jones missed the final international in Johannesburg, however, having been forced home after the heart-breaking 28-25 second Test defeat in Pretoria after dislocating his right shoulder. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Alun Wyn Jones DOB 19th Sep 1985 Birthplace Swansea (Wales) Height 1.96 m (6' 5") Weight 119 kg (18 st 10 lb) Position Lock Honours Wales / Lions Alun Wyn JONES Wales Caps: 70 (32-0-38) Wales Points: 35 (7t) Wales Debut: v Argentina 2006 British & Irish Lions: 2009 (SA) Tests: 3 (1-0-2) Lions Debut: 30/05/2009 v Royal XV Test Record v Australia: 8 (1-0-7) Alun Wyn Jones missed the opening two rounds of this year’s RBS 6 Nations with a shoulder injury but returned to help Wales to their fourth title in nine years and his second since making his Wales debut in 2006. He burst onto the international scene as part of the Wales U21 Grand Slam winning team in 2005 and won the Best Newcomer award in the Welsh Premiership with Swansea in the same season. He then joined the Ospreys, making fifteen appearances in his first season with the region. His superb form in his debut season with the region led to Jones being picked for Wales' summer tour to Argentina in 2006, where he played in both games at blindside flanker, gaining his first caps at senior level. Jones was named in the national squad for the 2006 autumn internationals, starting against the Pacific Islanders and coming off the bench for the clashes with Canada and New Zealand. He also featured for Wales in every game of the 2007 RBS 6 Nations. Jones was named in Gareth Jenkins' 2007 Rugby World Cup squad, making try-scoring appearances in Wales' Pool B encounters with Canada and Japan, and featuring in the starting line-up for the two defeats at the hands of Australia and Fiji. January 2008 saw Jones included in Warren Gatand's RBS 6 Nations squad and the 27-year-old made three appearances in the Grand Slam winning side against England, Ireland and France, missing out on the remaining fixtures due to an injury picked up after the initial match of the campaign. He was back in action in November of that year when he was one of Wales’s most consistent performers against South Africa, New Zealand and Australia and, after a fine domestic season, was selected for the 2009 Lions tour of South Africa where he partnered Ireland’s Paul O’Connell in each of the three Tests. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Robert Kearney DOB 26th Mar 1986 Birthplace Height 1.85 m (6' 1") Weight 95 kg (14 st 13 lb) Position Full Back Honours Ireland / Lions Robert KEARNEY Ireland Caps: 46 (19-3-24) Ireland Points: 37 (7t 1c) Ireland Debut: v Argentina 2007 British & Irish Lions: 2009 (SA) Tests: 3(1-0-2), Points: 5 (1t) Lions Debut: 03/06/09 v Golden Lions Test Record v Australia: 4(1-1-2) Rob Kearney returns for his second tour with the British & Irish Lions with the aim of emulating his world class performances of four years ago. Ireland's full back took over from the injured Lee Byrne in the first international against South Africa and produced some scintillating displays throughout the Test series, claiming the Lions' solitary try in the Battle of Pretoria in the second rubber. The double European champion is dominant under the high ball, has a big left boot and is a clever broken-field runner who should be suited to the hard, fast tracks of Australia. Kearney played Gaelic football as a youth for Louth in the All-Ireland Minor Football Championship and was a stalwart in the Clongowes Wood College school rugby side. He made his Leinster debut against the Ospreys in September 2005 at the age of 19, just months after helping University College, Dublin to a McCorry Cup victory over Trinity College. Eddie O'Sullivan awarded Kearney, who represented his country at schoolboy, U19 and A level, his first Ireland cap against Argentina in the summer of 2007. He played in the 2008 RBS 6 Nations, but it was a year later when Kearney produced his most spectacular form. Kearney was a permanent feature in the Ireland team that won the Grand Slam and the Leinster side that lifted the Heineken Cup before his stand-out tour with the Lions in South Africa. A knee injury against the All Blacks in November 2010 cut his season short and he missed out on Leinster's second European triumph but returned in time to play in his first Rugby World Cup in 2011. He won the Heineken Cup with Leinster for the second time in 2012 when his nine appearances yielded six tries and earned him the prestigious ERC Player of the Year award. He was a try scorer in Leinster's Amlin Challenge Cup final win over Stade Francais Paris. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dan Lydiate DOB 18th Dec 1987 Birthplace Height 1.93 m (6' 4") Weight 101 kg (15 st 12 lb) Position Flanker Honours Wales Danny John LYDIATE Welsh Caps: 27 (12-1-14) Welsh Points: 0 Wales Debut: v Argentina (rep) 2009 British & Irish Lions: First Tour Lions Debut: 01/06/2013 v Barbarians Test Record v Australia: 7 (0-0-7) Dan Lydiate missed more than six months of action, including this year’s autumn internationals and the RBS 6 Nations, with successive ankle and hamstring injuries before making a welcome return for Newport Gwent Dragons in March. Lydiate was raised in Llandrindod Wells and is a product of the Dragons academy. He was an ever-present member of the Wales U20 back row for the Six Nations campaign in 2006/07 and progressed to the Dragons senior side at the end of that season. Early in the 2007/08 campaign he suffered a serious neck injury in a Heineken Cup group match away to Perpignan which ruled him out for the rest of the season and raised doubts as to whether he would ever play again. He recovered to become a mainstay in the Dragons side, however, and his performances for the Gwent region caught the attention of Wales coach Warren Gatland in 2009. The blindside flanker has made a huge impact on the international scene since making his debut for Wales as a replacement against Argentina four years ago. Lydiate established himself in the No 6 shirt in the 2010 autumn series when coach Shaun Edwards described him as Wales’ best player across the four Tests. He made five appearances at the 2011 Rugby World Cup, helping Wales to the semi-finals where they were narrowly defeated by France. He formed part of an extremely effective back row unit in New Zealand, alongside regional colleague Toby Faletau and Wales, and now Lions, captain Sam Warburton. Lydiate finished second on the tournament's top-tacklers list, behind only fellow 2013 Lions tourist Faletau. In the 2012 RBS 6 Nations Championship, Lydiate received the Player of the Tournament award after featuring in every game bar the opener against Ireland and receiving man of the match awards against Scotland and France. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Sean Maitland DOB 14th Sep 1988 Birthplace Tokoroa Height 1.89 m (6' 2") Weight 97 kg (15 st 3 lb) Position Winger Honours Scotland Sean Daniel MAITLAND Scotland Caps: 5 (2-0-3) Scotland Points: 5 (1t) Scotland Debut: v England 2013 British & Irish Lions: First Tour Lions Debut: 01/06/2013 v Barbarians Test Record v Australia: 0 Sean Maitland will follow in the footsteps of Arthur O’Brien, Pat McEvedy and Riki Flutey as New Zealand-born players who have played for the British & Irish Lions when he makes his debut. Although born in Tokoroa, Maitland father is Scottish. A product of the same school as head coach Warren Gatland, Hamilton School for Boys, he was playing his rugby in New Zealand until Glasgow Warriors signed him on a three-year contract from this season. He arrived in Scotland in October, 2012 and made his Warriors debut in the Heineken Cup clash with Castres Olympique on 7 December. He won his first Scottish cap after a mere six appearances for his new club and became the first Scotsman to score a try on his RBS 6 Nations debut when he scored in the defeat against England in round one. He currently has five caps. He was in the New Zealand U19 team that won the IRB World Championship in Belfast in 2007, beating Sam Warburton’s Wales team along the way, and then featured in a New Zealand side that won the inaugural IRB World Junior Championships in Wales in 2008 by beating Ireland, the hosts and then England in the final. He was on the bench for the Crusaders when they beat the Waratahs in the 2008 Super Rugby final and was a losing finalist in 2011. In the latter campaign he scored a record four tries in one game against the Brumbies. He also played in four successful Canterbury sides that won NPC titles between 2008-2011. In all, he scored 20 tries in almost 50 games for Canterbury and made more than 50 Super Rugby appearances for the Crusaders. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Conor Murray DOB 20th Apr 1989 Birthplace Height 1.85 m (6' 1") Weight 84 kg (13 st 3 lb) Position Scrum Half Honours Ireland Conor MURRAY Ireland Caps: 19 (6-2-11) Ireland Points: 5 (1t) Ireland Debut: v France (rep) 2011 British & Irish Lions: First Tour Lions Debut: 01/06/2013 v Barbarians Test Record v Australia: 1 (1-0-0) Conor Murray earns selection for his first British & Irish Lions tour having established himself as Ireland’s first-choice scrum-half. The 24-year-old now has 19 international caps to his name having made his Test debut against France in a World Cup warm up in Bordeaux in August 2011. His first senior appearance for his country came after just 10 RaboDirect PRO12 games for Munster, of which only six were starts. His fine form and obvious promise saw him replace 2009 Lions selection Tomas O’Leary and Ireland veteran Peter Stringer as the number one No9 at his province and he has now replicated that position in the national side after a running battle with Leinster’s Eoin Reddan and Isaac Boss. He started each of his team’s Championship fixtures in February and March after doing the same in the autumn Tests against South Africa and Argentina and the three-Test summer tour of New Zealand. He has therefore been an ever present in the Ireland starting XV for the past 10 Tests and only missed 33 minutes of action throughout the entire RBS 6 Nations. His first, and so far only, Test try in the second international against the All Blacks in June of last year as Ireland came agonisingly close to an historic success. International honours at U20 level in the same season that the Lions were last on tour in South Africa preceded his step up to the senior Ireland side and a year later he represented Garryowen FC in the Irish Cup Final and Munster A in the British and Irish Cup Final. A product of the Munster Academy, he was a RaboDirect PRO12 winner with Munster in 2011, just over a year after making his first-team debut against Connacht. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ George North DOB 13th Apr 1992 Birthplace Height 1.92 m (6' 4") Weight 106 kg (16 st 9 lb) Position Winger Honours Wales George Philip NORTH Wales Caps: 31 (15-1-15) Wales Points: 60 (12t) Wales Debut: v South Africa 2010 British & Irish Lions: First Tour Lions Debut: 01/06/2013 v Barbarians Test Record v Australia: 5 (0-0-5), 5pts (1t) George North will make the switch from Scarlets to Northampton Saints following this summer’s British & Irish LIons tour to Australia after the Aviva Premiership side won the race for his coveted signature. Ever since marking his debut for the Scarlets with two tries against Benetton Treviso at the beginning of the 2010/11 season the King’s Lynn-born winger has enjoyed an incredible scoring record. At 18 years and 214 days, he became the youngest player ever to score a try on his debut for Wales. The previous record holder was Tom Pearson, who was aged 18 years, 238 days when he scored against England in 1891. He also became the youngest player to have scored two tries on his debut, with the opposition being a major rugby nation and the youngest player ever to have scored two tries against a major rugby nation, whether on his debut or not. He made a huge impression at the 2011 Rugby World Cup, scoring two tries against Namibia and one against Fjii, making him the youngest try scorer at a Rugby World Cup, aged 19 years and 166 days. He ended up topping the tournament statistics for most metres gained (509m) and defenders beaten (24). In February 2012 he broke yet another international record when his try in the opening Six Nations win against Ireland made him the youngest player in rugby history to score 10 international tries. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Sean O'Brien DOB 14th Feb 1987 Birthplace Height 1.88 m (6' 2") Weight 105 kg (16 st 7 lb) Position Back Row Honours Ireland Sean Kevin O’BRIEN Ireland Caps: 27 (12-2-13) Ireland Points: 10 (2t) Ireland Debut: v Fiji (rep) 2009 British & Irish Lions: First Tour Lions Debut: 05/06/2013 v Western Force Test Record v Australia: 1 (1-0-0) Sean O’Brien will be making his first British & Irish Lions tour having been uncapped by his country the last time Britain and Ireland’s elite were in the southern hemisphere. The 26-year-old flanker made his Ireland debut against Fiji in November of 2009 and has since established himself as a key member of the Ireland pack. O’Brien has started all but one of Ireland’s last 15 matches in the RBS 6 Nations and now has 27 caps to his name. He was an ever present in this year’s Championship, playing the full 80 minutes in four of the five fixtures. He has started in all three back row positions for Ireland but has now made the openside flank his own. O’Brien has worn the No7 shirt in his last 15 starts for his country, with his last start elsewhere coming on the blindside flank back against France in August 2011. He was forced to sit out Ireland’s autumn Tests against South Africa and Argentina following hip surgery and has featured in approximately a third of Leinster’s competitive fixtures this season. The Leinster Academy product won Heineken Cup crowns with the senior side in 2011 and 2012 and was named ERC Player of the Year during the first of those continental triumphs. He also started in the Amlin Challenge Cup final against Stade Francais Paris in Dublin, earning himself and his team another major Euriopean title. He was chosen as the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland Player of the Year in the same season before being named as one of the Top Five Star Players at the 2011 World Cup. He was a member of the Ireland U20 squad that won Grand Slam honours in 2007 and has also made eight appearances for his country at U21 level. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Paul O'Connell DOB 20th Oct 1979 Birthplace Limerick (Ireland) Height 1.98 m (6' 6") Weight 111 kg (17 st 6 lb) Position Lock Honours Ireland / Lions Paul Jeremiah O’CONNELL Ireland Caps: 85 (50-2-33) Ireland Points: 30 (6t) Ireland Debut: v Wales 2002 British & Irish Lions: 2005 (NZ), 2009 (SA) Tests: 6 (1-0-5) Lions Debut: 04/06/2005 v Bay of Plenty Test Record v Australia: 7 (2-1-4) Paul O’Connell will be making his third successive British & Irish Lions tour, completing a full house of southern hemisphere adventures having previously travelled to New Zealand and South Africa. The 33-year-old second row skippered the Lions on their last tour four years ago, leading the side to a third-Test victory over the Springboks and winning widespread plaudits for his captaincy efforts. He has started the last six Lions Test matches after being named in the first XV for the games against the All Blacks in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland and the Boks in Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg. He will start the tour with a total of 11 appearances for Britain and Ireland’s elite behind him, with five of those coming in 2005 and a further six in 2009. The Munsterman has won 85 caps for his country, with just six of those coming from the replacements’ bench. He made his senior Ireland debut against Wales in 2002 and first captained the side two years later. He has played in three Rugby World Cups, in 2003, 2007 and 2011, and helped Ireland win the Triple Crown in 2004, 2006 and 2007. He tasted Grand Slam glory in 2009, starting all five fixtures as Ireland claimed a first clean sweep in 61 years. He captained Ireland at the start of 2012, but a knee injury brought his Championship campaign to a premature end and he was forced to sit out the summer tour of New Zealand. A back problem then prevented him from playing in the autumn internationals against South Africa and Argentina and the entire 2013 RBS 6 Nations campaign. He missed most of the domestic season as well, playing just twice in October before finally returning to action in early April. A double Heineken Cup winner, having first claimed European club rugby’s biggest prize in 2006 before captaining Munster to a second success in 2008., he led Munster to the semi-final stage of Europe's top tournament this season. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Brian O'Driscoll DOB 21st Jan 1979 Birthplace Dublin (Ireland) Height 1.75 m (5' 9") Weight 95 kg (14 st 13 lb) Position Centre Honours Ireland / Lions Brian Gerald O’DRISCOLL Ireland Caps: 125 (75-2-48) Ireland Points: 245 (46t 5d) Ireland Debut: v Australia 1999 British & Irish Lions: 2001 (A), 2005 (Arg/NZ), 2009 (SA) Tests: 6 (1-0-5), 5pts (1t) Lions Debut: 08/06/2001 v Western Australia Test Record v Australia: 14 (4-1-9), 23pts (4t 1d) Brian O’Driscoll is heading on his fourth British & Irish Lions tour - only the third player in 125 years to do that after five-times tourists Willie John McBride and Mike Gibson. He is also the second most capped player in rugby union history with 131 Test appearances – 125 for Ireland and 6 with the British & Irish Lions – and the game’s seventh highest Test try scorer with Bryan Habana on 47. He has captained Ireland to 52 wins in 83 matches, including four Triple Crowns and the 2009 Grand Slam, and was the Lions tour captain in New Zealand in 2005. He has made 17 appearances, and scored seven tries, in four successive Rugby World Cup tournaments, and led Ireland to a Pool victory over Australia in 2011. He has four wins, a draw and four tries to his credit in 14 Tests against the Wallabies for both Ireland and the Lions. Born in Dublin, and a product of the famous Blackrock College, he made three appearances for the Irish School U18 team in 1996 and was in the Declan Kidney coached Ireland U19 team that won the IRB Junior World Cup in 1998. He made his Leinster debut in 1999 and has since helped his province to win three Heineken Cup titles and two RaboDirct PRO12 crowns. He won his first Irish senior cap on the 1999 summer tour to Australia, and played in all four of Ireland’s games at the 1999 World Cup, scoring his first try against the US Eagles. He added to his growing reputation by scoring a wonder try for the Lions against Australia in 2001. He was nominated for the 2002 IRB World Player of the Year award. He was voted Player of the Tournament for the 2006, 2007 and 2009 RBS 6 Nations, but on three occasions has been pipped for the World Player of the Year award, in 2001, 2002 and 2009. He married actress Amy Huberman in July, 2010, and the couple’s first child child, Sadie, was born just hours before this season’s RBS 6 Nations clash with England on 10 February, 2013. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Geoff Parling DOB 28th Oct 1983 Birthplace Height 1.96 m (6' 5") Weight 104 kg (16 st 5 lb) Position Lock Honours England Geoffrey Matthew PARLING England Caps: 17 (10-1-6) England Points: 5 (1t) England Debut: v Scotland (rep) 2012 British & Irish Lions: First Tour Lions Debut: 05/06/2013 v Western Force Test Record v Australia: 1 (0-0-1) Geoff Parling has underlined his importance to England by playing in their last 17 Test matches since making his debut against Scotland in 2012. He is one of five players from Leicester Tigers in the 2013 British & Irish Lions squad. The Leicester second-row has proved invaluable to the national team with a series of telling performances in which he proved the dominant force at the lineout as well as a leading tackler. He also claimed his first international try against Scotland at Twickenham in February, the first England lock to score an RBS 6 Nations try in seven years. Born in Stockton-on-Tees, higher representative honours have beckoned Parling since he appeared for England U16, U18, U19 and U21. He represented England in the U21 Six Nations and IRB Junior World Championships in both 2003 and 2004. A product of the Newcastle Falcons Academy, he became a first-team regular in 2005/6, often as a blindside flanker, and won the club’s Player of the Year award. He spent six years at the Flacons, captaining them for a time during 2006/7 in the absence of Wallaby star Matt Burke before joining Leicester in 2009. He lifted the Premiership title in his first season, on his way to England Saxons selection for the matches against Ireland A and Italy A in 2010 before touring Australia and New Zealand with England that summer. He appeared against the Australian Barbarians in Perth and New Zealand Maori in Napier but missed out on Test selection. Neck and knee injuries virtually wiped out the 2010/2011 campaign though returned to make his Test debut off the bench at Murrayfield and a first start against Wales at Twickenham. He has come to the fore this year with his first Test try against Scotland, the leading line out ball winner in the next match against France and the joint top tackler, with 17, alongside Chris Robshaw and Tom Wood against Wales in the final game. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mike Phillips DOB 29th Aug 1982 Birthplace Carmarthen (Wales) Height 1.91 m (6' 3") Weight 103 kg (16 st 3 lb) Position Scrum Half Honours Wales / Lions William Michael PHILLIPS Wales Caps: 77 (37-2-38) Wales Points: 40 (8t) Wales Debut: v Romania 2003 British & Irish Lions: 2009 (SA) Tests: 3 (1-0-2), 5pts (1t) Lions Debut: 30/05/2009 v Royal XV Test Record v Australia: 9 (0-0-9) Mike Phillips started all three Tests during the 2009 British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa and has since secured two RBS 6 Nations winners’ medals The scrum-half started every match of Wales’ latest Championship success and returned to his best with a rousing performance against England. Renowned for his physicality, he is often seen as a fourth back-row forward and is a menace around the fringes. It was in the back-row that he began playing rugby while at Whitland RFC in west Wales before moving on to Carmarthen RFC. He came through the Scarlets ranks as an understudy to 2005 tourist Dwyane Peel and made a try-scoring international debut against Romania in 2003, having represented Wales U21. He starred for Wales during the 2004 tour of North America, but a lack of first-team opportunities at the Scarlets saw him switch to Cardiff Blues. He continued to flourish but remained in Peel’s shadow until making the Wales No9 jersey his own in 2008, after moving onto the Ospreys. He was an integral member of the Wales side that won the 2008 Grand Slam and was selected on the Lions tour of South Africa the following year. He played in six matches in South Africa, including all three Tests, and he scored in the opening encounter with the Springboks in Durban. Since 2009 he has remained one of the first names on Gatland’s team-sheet and he started every clash of Wales’ consecutive Championship crowns. He joined Bayonne in 2011 and proved the move hadn't hampered his performance with his barnstorming RBS 6 Nations displays. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jamie Roberts DOB 8th Nov 1986 Birthplace Height 1.93 m (6' 4") Weight 107 kg (16 st 11 lb) Position Centre Honours Wales / Lions Jamie Huw ROBERTS Wales Caps: 53 (27-0-26) Wales Points: 25 (5t) Wales Debut: v Scotland 2008 British & Irish Lions: 2009 (SA) Tests: 2 (0-0-2) Lions Debut: 30/05/2009 v Royal XV Test Record v Australia 5 (1-0-4) Jamie Roberts will follow in the famous footsteps of Teddy Morgan, Jack Jones, Tuan Jones, Jack Matthews and JPR Williams as Welsh rugby playing doctors who have toured with the British & Irish Lions, having recently qualified as a doctor from Cardiff University after eight years of studying at university. He had spent three years as a student by the time he made his debut on the wing for Wales against Scotland at the beginning of the 2008 Grand Slam winning RBS 6 Nations campaign.He went on start in all of Wales' autumn internationals in the centre, before suffering a fractured skull in a sickening collision with Australian skipper Stirling Mortlock. The following season the Cardiff Blues centre was selected to play for the Lions on the 2009 tour of South Africa where he formed a formidable partnership with Brian O’Driscoll. Roberts was named the Lions’ ‘Player of the Series’ after superb performances in the first two Tests. After his 2008 Grand Slam triumph with Wales, Roberts added a second Grand Slam to his CV in 2012 before a third RBS 6 Nations title win followed in this year. He also impressed as Wales made the semi-finals of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, scoring two tries as Warren Gatland’s side made the final four before losing to France. Roberts represented Wales at U19 and U21 levels, and was part of the U21 Grand Slam winning Six Nations team in 2005. He was then called into the Wales Sevens squad in March, 2006 for the Adelaide and Hong Kong legs of the 2006 IRB Sevens World Series. At club level, Roberts played for Cardiff RFC in 2005/06 before making his debut for Cardiff Blues against the Ospreys in 2007. He has since gone on to make more than 85 appearances for the Blues, helping them to become the first Welsh side to lift silverware in Europe when they won the Amlin Challenge Cup with a final win over Toulon in Marseille in 2010. After seven years with the Blues, Roberts announced he will play his club rugby in France next season. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jonathan Sexton DOB 11th Jul 1985 Birthplace Height 1.88 m (6' 2") Weight 92 kg (14 st 6 lb) Position Fly Half Honours Ireland Jonathan SEXTON Ireland Caps: 36 (16-1-19) Ireland Points: 282 (3t 33c 65p 2d) Ireland Debut: v Fiji 2009 British & Irish Lions: First Tour Lions Debut: 01/06/2013 v Barbarians Test Record v Australia: 2 (1-0-1), 24pts (7p 1d) Jonny Sexton wins selection for his first Lions tour having proved he has recovered from a spate of injury problems that blighted his 2013 RBS 6 Nations campaign by steering Leinster to victory in the Amlin Challenge Cup final against Stade Francais Paris. He picked up the man of the match award as Leinster made it three European titles in a row. A three-time Heineken Cup winner with his home province, in 2009, 2011 and 2012, he exploded on to the European scene in 2009 when he took over from the injured Felipe Contepomi in the semi-final against Munster at Croke Park. He scored 11 points in the final, including a crucial drop goal, and then notched a match-winning 28 points against Northampton Saints in the 2011 showpiece in Cardiff. He went on to score a further 14 points in the 2012 victory over Ulster to make it 54 points in three European finals. A product of St Mary’s College in Dublin, he won caps for Ireland Schools U18 and Ireland U21 before making the first of 11 appearances for Ireland A in the Churchill Cup in 2009. He went on to kick 15 points in the final as the Irish routed England Saxons. Contepomi’s departure for France allowed Sexton to start the 2009/10 campaign as Leinster’s top choice No 10 and he marked his first full Irish cap with a man of the match performance as he provided 16 points to a comprehensive win over Fiji in Dublin. He kept his place for the next game against South Africa, ousting Ronan O’Gara for the first time in a battle that is still running. He made two appearances off the bench in the 2010 RBS 6 Nations and shared the jersey with O’Gara throughout the 2011 championship. Sexton started the first two Pool matches at the 2011 Rugby World Cup, including the win over Australia, but then found himself back on the bench behind O’Gara for the next three games, including the quarter-final defeat to Wales. He re-established himself as first choice and started in the last 12 Irish Tests dating back to the 2012 RBS 6 Nations before he tore a hamstring in the defeat to England this season. He was deemed fit to resume against Italy in the final round, but tore a tendon in his foot in the week leading up to the Rome encounter. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Matt Stevens DOB 1st Oct 1982 Birthplace Durban (South Africa) Height 1.83 m (6' 0") Weight 123 kg (19 st 5 lb) Position Prop Honours England Matthew John Hamilton STEVENS England Caps: 44 (24-0-20) England Points: 0 England Debut: v New Zealand (rep) 2004 British & Irish Lions: 2005 (Arg/NZ) Lions Debut: 04/06/05 v Bay of Plenty Test Record v Australia: 2 (1-0-1) Matt Stevens has been enticed out of international retirement to make a second tour with the British & Irish Lions. He played six times on the 2005 tour to New Zealand. Born and raised in South Africa, he earned representative honours for Western Province, South African Universities and the Junior Springboks at Under 18 and Under 19 level, before deciding to move to England to pursue his university studies. He obtained a BSc in Politics and Economics from Bath University and, having joined Bath in September, 2002, worked hard enough to earn five appearances as a replacement at the end of his first season. A British passport holder, he played for England U21 in the 2003 IRB Junior World Cup and then enjoyed a meteoric rise into the England strata. He made his Test debut against New Zealand as a replacement on the 2004 summer tour and his first England start came against Ireland in the 2005 RBS 6 Nations. He played in seven games at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, including the final against South Africa when he replaced skipper Phil Vickery. Equally at home on either side of the scrum, he helped Bath reach the Amlin Challenge Cup final in 2007 and win the title in 2008. His career was almost destroyed in January, 2009 when he failed a drugs test and received a two-year ban. Having made 74 league and 40 European appearances for Bath, he made his return from suspension with Saracens, who signed him half-way through his lay-off. He helped them become English champions in 2011 and to reach the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup this season. He returned rugby in February, 2011, and was back in England colours for the Saxons’ at the Churchill Cup in June. He was back in the senior England side two months later in the Rugby World Cup warm-up match against Wales at Twickenham and then appeared in 11 of the subsequent 12 Tests. A shoulder injury forced him to miss the summer tour to South Africa in 2012 and in August that year, after 44 caps, he announced his international retirement to allow him focus his efforts on club rugby and his young family. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Justin Tipuric DOB 6th Aug 1989 Birthplace Height 1.88 m (6' 2") Weight 107 kg (16 st 11 lb) Position Back Row Honours Wales Justin TIPURIC Wales Caps: 15 (8-0-7) Wales Points: 0 Wales Debut: v Argentina (rep) 2011 British & Irish Lions: First Tour Lions Debut: 01/06/2013 v Barbarians Test Record v Australia: 3 (0-0-3) Justin Tipuric’s dramatic rise from the Welsh Premiership to the international scene with Wales has seen him labelled as one of the most exciting backrow players in world rugby. His club form with the Ospreys and international displays for his country have led to an exciting duel with Sam Warburton for theNo7 shirt in Wales. Renowned for his tough tackling, supreme fitness and superb ball handling skills, Tipuric has all the attributes needed for a modern-day backrow specialist. He has been with the Swansea-based Ospreys since U16 level and Tipuric, whose grandfather is Croatian, has represented Wales at every age-grade level. He was hugely successful at Under 20 level with Wales, making 18 appearances over two seasons and scoring eight tries, six of which came at the 2009 Junior World Championship in Japan. He also starred for the Wales Sevens squad in 2009/10, playing in the Bowl Final in Hong Kong At club level he made his name in the Welsh Premiership, playing over 40 times for Aberavon in a successful spell with the Wizards. His form with Aberavon helped him break into the Ospreys side in 2010/11 with 27 appearances and two tries, including a fine individual effort against Edinburgh. A year after making his first start for the Ospreys he made his Wales debut against Argentina in August 2011 for the pre-World Cup warm-up fixture, before gaining his second cap at the Millennium Stadium as a replacement against Australia. He also featured twice in the Grand Slam fixtures of 2012, toured Australia last summer and played all five fixtures of Wales’ successful Six Nations campaign in 2013. He was named man of the match in Wales’ final game of the campaign when they produced a stunning display against England at the Millennium Stadium to snatch the Six Nations title. He couples his playing career with some part time coaching at his village club, Trebanos RFC, and has helped them top Division 3 South West in the Welsh league system. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Manu Tuilagi DOB 18th May 1991 Birthplace Height 1.85 m (6' 1") Weight 110 kg (17 st 4 lb) Position Centre Honours England Etuale Manusamoa TUILAGI England Caps: 21 (13-1-17) England Points: 50 (10t) England Debut: v Wales 2011 British & Irish Lions: First Tour Lions Debut: 05/06/2013 v Western Force Test Record v Australia: 1 (0-0-1) Manu Tuilagi has wasted no time in making an indelible impression for Leicester Tigers and England. The youngest of six brothers in the famous Samoan rugby dynasty, he has demonstrated ambition and resolve to wear the Red Rose jersey in a full international having lived in England for nine years. After becoming the Rugby Players’ Association Young Player of the Year for 2010/11, Tuilagi was handed that chance in the summer of 2011 and duly played his way into Martin Johnson’s Rugby World Cup squad. A debut try against Wales at Twickenham before a second against Ireland in Dublin three weeks later confirmed his rapid emergence. He became England’s youngest RWC player at 20 years and 115 days against Argentina, being 15 days younger than Jonny Wilkinson, who set the previous record in 1999. Manu started all five games in New Zealand, scoring from a dynamic break against Georgia and added a fourth touchdown against Romania six days later. A hamstring injury and broken cheekbone blighted the following season, though he returned to face Wales in February 2012 and ran his fifth try in nine Tests when France were beaten 24-22 in Paris. Manu started all three Test matches in South Africa and the four November Tests in which he scored two of England’s seven tries against Fiji, their only try against Australia and another against the All Blacks. His approach against New Zealand typified that of England – fast, direct and unyielding. Manu intercepted a pass and ran half the length of the field to score his ninth Test try and had a hand in scores for Brad Barritt and Chris Ashton. An ankle injury ruled him out of the opening match in the 2013 RBS 6 Nations against Scotland but he returned off the bench against Ireland and scored his tenth Test try in the win over France, despite requiring 19 stitches around his left ear after the game. Born in the village of Fatausi-Fogapoa, Manu rose through the England age group ranks, playing for the U16 and U18 teams, and became the fifth Tuilagi brother to play for Leicester. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mako Vunipola DOB 13th Jan 1991 Birthplace Wellington, N Zealand Height 1.80 m (5' 11") Weight 130 kg (20 st 6 lb) Position Prop Honours England Makovina Wanangarua I Whanga Nui-Atara VUNIPOLA England Caps: 9 (6-0-3) England Points: 0 England Debut: v Fiji (rep) 2012 British & Irish Lions: First Tour Lions Debut: 01/06/2013 v Barbarians Test Record v Australia: 1 (0-0-1) Mako Vunipola is the latest member of an established Tongan rugby dynasty to grab the rugby headlines. Born in Wellington, New Zealand, he was reared in the famous front-row breeding ground of Pontypool. Aged just seven, Vunipola emigrated to Wales when his father Fe’ao, a hooker, signed to play for Pontypool in 1998. Fe’ao went on to win 32 caps for Tonga, including appearances in the 1995 and 1999 Rugby World Cup tournaments. Mako, and his younger brother Viliami, better known as ‘Billy’, who now plays for London Wasps, grew up in the same household as Wales No 8 Toby Faletau and was raised playing rugby throughout Gwent before attending Millfield School and joining the Bristol Rugby Academy. He had the option of representing Wales, but chose England, through residency, and appeared for the England Schools U18s alongside his brother. He enjoyed a stunning season in 2010/11 by sharing in the England U20 Grand Slam and their impressive run to the IRB Junior World Championship final. In 2011, he signed for Saracens, the Premiership champions at the time, from Bristol but a broken metatarsal, followed by a hamstring tear, restricted him to eight Premiership games in his debut season. He had a spell on loan at Bedford Blues and was elevated to the England Saxons squad last summer before winning his first senior cap against Fiji in November, 2012, as a replacement for Joe Marler. He then played off the bench in seven consecutive matches for England before starting against Italy in March this year. Remarkably, six of Mako’s uncles and his grandfather represented their native country. Fe’ao was head coach of High Wycombe and then Marlow before returning to Tonga. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sam Warburton DOB 5th Oct 1988 Birthplace Height 1.91 m (6' 3") Weight 96 kg (15 st 1 lb) Position Flanker Honours Wales Sam Kennedy WARBURTON Wales Caps: 38 (18-0-20) Wales Points: 10 (2t) Wales Debut: v USA (rep) 2009 British & Irish Lions: First Tour Lions Debut: 08/06/2013 v Queensland Reds Test Record v Australia: 7 (0-0-7) Sam Warburton led Wales to the 2011 Rugby World Cup semi-finals and on to an RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam in 2012. He becomes only the fourth Welsh player to lead the British & Irish Lions on tour – Arthur Harding in 1908, John Dawes in 1971 and Phil Bennett in 1977 – and he will become the fifth youngest of the 28 Lions tour captains stretching back to Rob Seddon on the pioneering tour of 1888. He will be 24 yrs, 244 days old on the day of the opening tour match against the Barbarians in Hong Kong. The only other captains to have been younger on the date of the first game on their tours have been: 1950: Karl Mullen (Ireland) 23 yrs, 165 days; 1904: David Bedell-Sivright (Scotland) 23 yrs, 193 days; 1955: Robin Thompson (Ireland) 24 yrs, 48 days; 1924: Ron Cove-Smith (England) 24 yrs, 229 days. He is regarded as one of the world’s finest flankers and stormed back to his best form with his performances in the 2013 RBS 6 Nations campaign. He was named man-of-the-match against Scotland and followed it up with another destructive display against England as Wales successfully defended their title. Warburton learned his rugby at Whitchurch High School, where he was in the same class as Tottenham Hotspur and Wales star Gareth Bale, and also played at Rhiwbina RFC. He enjoyed a brief spell with Glamorgan Wanderers before switching to Cardiff RFC and the Cardiff Blues academy. A No 8 in the Welsh age-grade teams, the versatile back-row forward has won caps at U18, 19 and 20s levels. In 2007, he led Wales into the IRB U19 World Cup in Belfast, where they lost 25-21 to Australia in the third-place Play-Off game, and a year later captained Wales at the inaugural IRB World Junior Championships on home soil. He served as understudy to three times Lions tourist Martyn Williams in his early years at the Blues and made his regional debut against Edinburgh in 2009. He then caught the eye of the Welsh selectors with a string of impressive performances and made his Test debut on the summer tour against USA in 2009. He was named in Wales’ 2010 RBS 6 Nations squad, but had to wait until the following season to get his first taste of championship action. In June, 2011, he became Wales’ second youngest captain, after Lions legend Gareth Edwards, when he led his country against the Barbarians. He hung on to the captain’s armband for the Rugby World Cup, after Matthew Rees was ruled out, and took Wales to the last four. He led Wales out of their Pool, past Ireland in the quarter-finals and into a semi-final clash with France. In the 18th minute he was infamously sent-off for a tip-tackle on Vincent Clerc and Wales missed out on a place in the final as they lost 9-8. Warburton retained the captaincy on his return home and, after leading Wales to the Grand Slam last year, he was in charge for the three games against the Wallabies on the summer tour. He relinquished the honour during the 2013 tournament, with Ryan Jones and Gethin Jenkins picking up the arm-band. He has led his country to eight wins in 20 Tests to date. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Ben Youngs DOB 5th Sep 1989 Birthplace Height 1.79 m (5' 10") Weight 76 kg (11 st 13 lb) Position Scrum Half Honours England Benjamin Ryder YOUNGS England Caps: 33 (21-1-11) England Points: 30 (6t) England Debut: v Scotland (rep) 2010 British & Irish Lions: First Tour Lions Debut: 05/06/2013 v Western Force Test Record v Australia: 4 (2-0-2), 5pts (1t) Ben Youngs has already tasted success against Australia having twice provided a crucial contribution in victories over the Wallabies.He will be joined on his first British & Irish Lions tour by his elder brother, Tom, making them the 14th set of brothers to be selected by the Lions. The Leicester scrum-half announced his arrival on the international stage with a try-scoring first start for England in the 21-20 win at Sydney in June 2010 courtesy of a dummy pass and dynamic dash from line. He followed that with a virtuoso performance on only his second Twickenham start when England overpowered Australia 35-18 in November 2010. His imaginative blind side pass near his own line helped to launch Chris Ashton for an 85-metre try and was rewarded with Man of the Match award. Youngs has made a habit of making a good first impression having also scored on his Rugby World Cup debut with a crucial try against Argentina in Dunedin in 2011. Further tries followed against Romania and Ireland while his at Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg in June 2012 was the first time an England player had scored twice against the Springboks since Will Greenwood ten years earlier. Youngs was a member of the England Junior National Academy in 2006-07 and played at outside half, full back and centre, as well as scrum half with the Tigers Academy, which he joined on a full time basis that season. He became the youngest Leicester player to appear in a league match when he faced Bristol in 2007, aged just 17, and went on to claim a Premiership winner’s medal. He reached the final of the Junior World Championships in both 2008 and 2009, before advancing into the England Sevens squad. Scintillating form behind a dominant Leicester pack projected him to the accolade of Premiership Discovery of the Year 2009-10 in which he made his England debut as a replacement wing against Scotland. Ever-present during the 6 nations-winning campaign of 2011, he overcame knee surgery to play in every game at the World Cup in New Zealand and has gone on to win 33 caps. Born in Cawston, Norfolk, his father Nick Youngs won six England caps as scrum-half in 1983-84. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Tom Youngs DOB 28th Jan 1987 Birthplace Height 1.76 m (5' 9") Weight 102 kg (16 st 0 lb) Position Hooker Honours England Thomas Nicholas YOUNGS England Caps: 9 (6-0-3) England Points: 0 England Debut: v Fiji 2012 British & Irish Lions: First Tour Lions Debut: 01/06/2013 v Barbarians Test Record v Australia: 1 (0-0-1) Tom Youngs joins scrum half brother Tom in the 2013 British & Irish Lions squad and they will become the 14th set of brothers to play for the Lions. He started life as a centre for Leicester Tigers, but has sealed a remarkable switch in positions to become his country’s leading hooker. Having made his senior debut for Tigers in 2006 he was regarded a good enough centre to represent England from U16 to U20 level and earned an England Sevens call for the IRB World Series in 2007. However, when he was sin-binned for fighting with an opposing Saracens prop in a second team game, Tigers coach Heyneke Meyer suggested he should play at hooker. Having enjoyed scrimmaging sessions during previous age-grade tours with England tight-head prop Dan Cole, Tom accepted the idea and forged a new career. Brought up on the family’s arable farm in Norfolk, he combined the pace of footwork of a three-quarter allied with the aggression and physicality suited for front-row rugby. He went on loan to Nottingham in 2009 and despite not playing the position before, he went on to play hooker in 60 matches over two seasons and was named as players’ player of the year. He started alongside younger brother Ben for the first time in the EDF Energy Cup match at Bath in 2008-09 and a senior call for the tour of South Africa united the brothers for their country for the first time. Tom played in both midweek matches against the South African Barbarians South and North but had to wait until the game against Fiji at Twickenham in November for his first cap. Tom has since appeared in nine consecutive Test matches, eight of them in the starting line up. Youngs made his first appearance at hooker for Tigers in the ‘A’ League win over Gloucester in January 2009, ended the 2011/12 season with an LV= Cup winner’s medal and a first appearance in a Premiership Final and has gone on to make 50 appearances for the club. Tom is also the son of Nick Youngs, the England scrum half capped six times in 1983-84. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 3 The Barbarians Venue: Hong Kong Stadium, Hong Kong Date: Saturday 1st June 2013 19.30 local (12.30 UK) UK Television: Sky Sports 1 & HD 1 (12.00 UK) Weather: Clear Skies, Max 27 degrees Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia) Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa), Angus Gardner (Australia) Television match official: Matt Goddard (Australia) Assessor: Scott Young/Andrew Cole (Australia) The Barbarians The British & Irish Lions 15: Jared Payne 14: Joe Rokocoko 13: Elliot Daly 12: Casey Laulala 11: Takudzwa Ngwenya 10: Nick Evans 9: Dimitri Yachvili 1: Paul James 2: Schalk Brits 3: Martin Castrogiovanni 4: Marco Wentzel 5: Dean Mumm 6: Samu Manoa 7: Sam Jones 8: Sergio Parisse (c) 15: Stuart Hogg 14: Alex Cuthbert 13: Jonathan Davies 12: Jamie Roberts 11: Sean Maitland 10: Owen Farrell 9: Mike Phillips 8: Toby Faletau 7: Justin Tipuric 6: Dan Lydiate 5: Paul O’Connell (c) 4: Richie Gray 3: Adam Jones 2: Richard Hibbert 1: Mako Vunipola Replacements Replacements 16: Leonardo Ghiraldini 17: Duncan Jones 18: Andrea Lo Cicero 19: Jim Hamilton 20: Imanol Harinordoquy 21: Kahn Fotuali’i 22: James Hook 23: Mike Tindall/Rowan Varty 16: Tom Youngs 17: Cian Healy 18: Matt Stevens 19: Alun Wyn Jones 20: Jamie Heaslip 21: Conor Murray 22: Jonathan Sexton 23: George North Chapter 3 The Barbarians So after four long years, here we were again. You ask the players about what the Lions mean to them. You ask the opposition players what playing against the Lions means to them. You ask the 40,000 odd supporters who would travel half way round the world over the course of the following few weeks to go and watch their Lions, what they mean to them. You only needed look at this opening tour game in Hong Kong for further indication of the pull that the Lions have as a sporting unit. From a commercial point of view, it’s obvious that this game is being put on because of the influence of the Lions main sponsor HSBC. Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in case you need the clarification. It was clear that HSBC wanted to bring the most famous touring side in the world to a city that really, have real rugby pedigree outside of their sevens tournament held each year, although that is more famous for the party than the rugby on the field of play. Nevertheless, the Lions are a huge draw for Hong Kong and it’s no surprise that HSBC leaned very heavily on the Lions to make this fixture happen, such is their worldwide appeal. It had also been alleged by the newspapers that HSBC may have had a hand in why Hong Kong winger Rowan Varty was added to the squad as last minute injury cover for Mike Tindall. Perhaps their influence isn’t just over the Lions, but also their opposition team sheet too? The game itself would be a scrappy affair to say the least. The weather on the Saturday was set to be roasting hot with humidity levels reaching unsustainable levels of around 85%. Match officials allowed a drinks break to occur mid way through both halves, but that would do little to quell the drain on the players from both sides, and the Lions would be particularly aware that this was just the first game in a series of ten, with the next match coming quickly on its heals on the Wednesday in Perth. The Lions would be using the game as an early indicator of combinations, but no-one seriously expected that game to be much of a spectacle given that both sides are completely unused to playing with each other. We expected that conditions and unfamiliarity would win out here, but it would be interesting to look at some of the basic individual performances and see how they fitted into the biggest and most complex rugby system. Looking at some specifics, the obvious candidate to keep an eye on will be Mako Vunipola. With Adam Jones on the other side of the scrum, he would need to at least be steady in the scrum and offer something around the park as his lack of international experience could be highlighted quite early. Owen Farrell would also have a spotlight on him. He would be playing inside the settled Welsh centre partnership and would have the experienced former Lion Mike Phillips feeding him the ball so he’d need an assured game to convince the doubters of his ability to run the game at this level. It would be interesting to see who really put their hands up here. It was going to be a tough game physically so to come out of this with any credit the Lions were going to have to show promise and successful early combinations outside of the existing partnerships, in the back row and midfield. The British & Irish Lions started their 2013 tour with a bang by beating the Barbarians by 59 points to 8 on a hot and sticky evening in Hong Kong. Mike Phillips and Alex Cuthbert grabbed the headlines with two tries each. Paul O’Connell scored the first try of the tour, and Jonathan Davies, Dan Lydiate and Alun Wyn Jones also scored tries on the night, with Owen Farrell and Jonny Sexton adding 19 points between them from the boot. Kahn Fotuali’l scored the Barbarians only try following an excellent step and break from the impressive former All Black Joe Rokocoko. Difficult conditions made ball handling tricky, but the Lions scored a number of tries late in the game when the Barbarians defence was tiring in the heat. Stand out performances from the welsh trio Mike Phillips, Jonathan Davies and Adam Jones helped the Lions to put on show for the 25,000 odd fans in Hong Kong. Joe Rokocoko was unlucky to end the evening without a score from his hard work as the outstanding performer for the Barbarians, but it was all about the Lions on the night and their power when on the front foot. All in all, it was a good work out for the Lions. Some good performances from the expected test starters and some good performances off the bench. Lions Head Coach Warren Gatland talking to Sky said ”The conditions were very tough and we missed three or four opportunities in the first half. But we kept going. The players said the ball was like a bar of soap, but they kept their composure after a rusty start. “To kick off like that keeps momentum and puts pressure on those players who were not involved today. That’s what you want as a coach. It’s a nice platform.” The Lions would have been pleased that they didn’t lose anybody to injury and now boarded a plane the next morning to fly to Perth ahead of their match on the Wednesday against Western Force. Dear rugger buggers. We are, with this edition, and for the first time ever, transcribing the matches with a live score tracker. We are in a digital age after all! What is required is to scroll down to the end of the chapter and work your way up with a ball by ball ( almost) commentary. Envisage yourself sitting in the stand, envision it live. This is a novel approach for an e-book and works well. Thracerugby and the boys in Herdfordshire are in concert here. Read the live tracker from the bottom up. 14:30 Jonny Sexton from ten yards in misses to make it one from four conversions for the Irishman. Final score 8-59 to the Lions. 14:30 And the Lions are still knocking at the door… and Alun Wyn Jones breaks through for another try! 14:30 Time’s up for the Lions so this is the last play… 14:25 Third time lucky for Jonathan Sexton from the right hand touchline. 8-54 14:25 A big drive from the Lions pack and they rumble over for the try. Dan Lydiate emerges as the man who put the ball down. 14:20 Ten minutes to go and with a bench full of replacements on for both sides, the game is getting a little bitty. A few breakaway scores as a result of some tired defending the difference for the Lions. 14: 20 Sexton misses the conversion again, but again from right out by the right touchline. 14:15 Alex Cuthbert adds a second try to his collection after a nice break from Conor Murray. Murray has a hard act to follow replacing Mike Phillips, but he’s started well since he’s come on. 14:15 George North is now also on in place of Jamie Roberts. 14:10 Alun Wyn Jones and Jamie Heaslip now on the field for the Lions. 14:10 Sexton misses the conversion from the right hand touchline. 8-42 14:05 And another try for the Lions from Alex Cuthbert from a turnover off Parisse. 14:05 Sexton converts to make it 8-37. 14:00 The Lions respond with a try of their own through Jonathan Davies which is verified by the TMO. 14:00 Quick drinks break and the half back pairing from the Lions have been replaced by Conor Murray and Jonathan Sexton. 14:00 Excellent try from the Barbarians. A good break from Rokocoko, who puts in Fotuali’i for the score. Evans misses the conversion. 8-30 14:00 A few replacements now on for the Lions. Complete front row change with Tom Youngs, Matt Stevens and Cian Healy all on. 13:55 Excellent attacking move from the Lions from their own 22 right up to the Baa Baas try line with Farrell’s final pass just being swiped down by the last man. Great move from the Lions. 13:50 Good break from Justin Tipuric who is stopped just short of the line by Joe Rokocoko. Attacking scrum under the posts for the Lions. 13:50 Mike Phillips is already putting his hand up for test selection. Excellent ball steal from him to add to his two tries so far and only just falling short of a third at the start of the match. Excellent 45 mins from him so far. 13:45 Farrell steps up and converts well from the touchline. 3-30 13:45 Phillips makes another try scoring break exploiting a huge hole in the Baa Baas defence off the back of the line out. Simple stuff! 13:40 So we’re back under way again with the Barbarians kicking off. 13:35 “Typical Phillips performance so far, shite with the pass, plenty of poor decisions but the eye for the break makes metres and points.” 13:30 Farrell kicks another penalty on the stroke of half time to lead 3-23 at the break. 13:25 Paul James is getting hammered by Adam Jones in the scrum. That doesn’t bode well for his Lions standby chances. 13:20 The conditions are pretty telling already. The players look like they’ve been out there for hours, not 30 minutes! 13:15 Excellent break from Mike Phillips again and this time does score on his own. Excellent solo effort, although it was an uncharacteristically poor attempt at a tackle from Sergio Parisse. Farrell converts to make it 3-20. 13:15 Owen Farrell kicks the conversion to make it 3 -13. 13:10 Phillips stopped just short of the line and Paul O’Connell dives over the top to touchdown, but Steve Walsh heads upstairs to the TMO who gives the try! 13:10 Some scrappy play from both sides, but that’s understandable given the conditions. The Lions probably have the edge slightly, no tries as yet, 13:00 Another good scrum from the Lions and Adam Jones in particular opposite his Wales colleague Paul James. Farrell lines it up and this time dissects the posts to make it 3-6. 12:55 Elliott Daly kicks a long range penalty to even up the scores at 3-3. Time for a drinks break. 12:55 Scrum penalty for the Lions which Farrell kicks at goal but hooks it and misses. 12:50 Great break for the Lions with Sean Maitland tearing after the ball but unfortunately knocking on just short of the line. 12:45 Unnecessary punch on Owen Farrell from his Saracens team mate Schalk Brits which results in a yellow card for the South African. 12:40 Decent enough start from the Lions, good tackle on Stuart Hogg from Casey Laulala, but the Lions win a penalty in Farrells range which he kicks for the first points on the board. 12: 35 Here we go then, Owen Farrell of the Lions gets us under way. 12:30 OK so the teams are coming out, the waiting is very nearly over, just five mins till kick off in Hong Kong. 12:05: First thing to tell you is that kick off is delayed by five minutes because the Lions were late to arrive at the ground having been stuck in traffic. 12.00: OK, so here we go then, the first game on the 2013 tour and the first time we’re doing these live score updates through the games. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 4 The Western Force Venue: Patersons Stadium, Perth Date: Wednesday 5th June 2013 18.00 local (11.00 UK) UK Television: Sky Sports 1 & HD 1 (10.30 UK) Weather: Sunny Intervals, Max 18 degrees Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand) Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Garratt Williamson (New Zealand) Television match official: tba (New Zealand) Assessor: Scott Young/Andrew Cole (Australia) Western Force The British & Irish Lions 15: Sam Christie 14: Dane Haylett-Petty 13: Ed Stubbs 12: Chris Tuatara-Morrison 11: Corey Brown 10: Sam Norton-Knight 9: Brett Sheehan 8: Richard Brown 7: Matt Hodgson (c) 6: Angus Cottrell 5: Phoenix Battye 4: Toby Lynn 3: Salesi Ma’afu 2: James Hilterbrand 1: Salesi Manu 15: Leigh Halfpenny 14: Tommy Bowe 13: Brian O’Driscoll (c) 12: Manu Tuilagi 11: George North 10: Jonathan Sexton 9: Conor Murray 8: Jamie Heaslip 7: Sean O’Brien 6: Tom Croft 5: Ian Evans 4: Alun Wyn Jones 3: Dan Cole 2: Rory Best 1: Cian Healy Replacements Replacements 16: Hugh Roach 17: Sione Kolo 18: Tim Metcher 19: Ben Matwijow 20: Lachlan McCaffrey 21: Alby Mathewson 22: Nick Haining 23: Junior Rasolea 16: Tom Youngs 17: Mako Vunipola 18: Matt Stevens 19: Geoff Parling 20: Toby Faletau 21: Ben Youngs 22: Owen Farrell 23: Sean Maitland So this was going to be a “bruising encounter” then was it? The Force made no secret of where their intentions would lie for the evening clash. The Force were going to be looking to do some roughing up of the Lions in the first match of the tour, and the Lions were going to have to fight fire with fire. But then that is the standard script for every Lions tour. The tone was set in a press conference a few days ahead of the game where Force scrum half Brett Sheehan outlined their plans for the Lions when they stepped out at Paterson Stadium on the Wednesday “We want it to be an extremely physical game, It’s a game of rugby where we don’t want to hold anything back; we want to go at them and let them know what it’s going to be like [in Australia]. We want them to know they’ve been in a battle.” What didnt help the Lions was that Western Force were playing two games in four days and therefore were resting some of their more crucial players for the Super XV game on the Saturday against the NSW Waratahs. Whilst this gave opportunities for younger players, they would have less of a concern about getting themselves injured and would be looking to make a mark (literally) on the Lions with the world watching. The Force named six international in their team to face the Lions, but no one would be under any illusions that the Lions could play an understrength twelfth best Super XV side. As long as the Lions could avoid injury from some over zealous physicality, the rugby world expected a possibility of a cricket score. Rugby in Perth has come on leaps and bounds since the last time the Lions were in town. The Western Force franchise didn’t exist and the Lions gave a Western Australia side a good hiding 10-116, albeit a scoreline quite that comprehensive this time around would be unlikely, but if the Lions could put 60 past the Barbarians, they could certainly get more than that against a poor and weakened Force side. The Lions would be welcoming their Leinster and Leicester Tigers players into the fold, and they would be looking to their talismanic figures to lead the way, most notably four time tourist (and captain for this match) Brian O’Driscoll. O’Driscoll would be partnering Manu Tuilagi in the centre, and outside them George North, Tommy Bowe and Leigh Halfpenny made up the back three. Saturdays bench combo of Conor Murray and Jonny Sexton were starting, and Jonny Sexton would be a key target for the Force after Farrell’s poor showing on the previous Saturday. Up front Cian Healy would pack down against Wallaby Salesi Ma’afu and that would be an intriguing battle. Alongside him would be his Ireland colleague Rory Best and Dan Cole would anchor the other side of the scrum against the inexperienced Salesi Manu. The Welsh combination of Alun Wyn Jones and Ian Evans were at lock, with an interesting back row combination of Tom Croft, Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip making up the forward pack. All signs were pointing to a bit of a pasting and if the Lions could keep their discipline and avoid any injuries then Gatland would be pleased with the outcome regardless of scoreline. The Lions came into this first game of the tour in Australia and faced a depleted Western Force team who were stripped of most of their key players ahead of a crucial Super XV match against the NSW Waratahs.The Force team included a number of players who have yet to even make their debuts in the Super XV so it was no surprise that they didn’t put up much of a fight. The Lions were challenged not to take the game lightly and although they finished with a 52 point winning margin, there were times that the Lions looked very pedestrian. They would need stiffer tests than this if they were not to head into the test matches against the Wallabies within two weeks - undercooked. The Lions made the same mistake in 2009 by not having an intensive enough set of warm up games and Lions head coach Warren Gatland would be keen to ensure that did not happen this time round. The Lions scored nine tries with Brian O’Driscoll leading the line with two scores. Further tries were added by Jonny Sexton, Tom Croft, Jamie Heaslip, Mako Vunipola, Tommy Bowe, Owen Farrell and Geoff Parling. Leigh Halfpenny kicked all nine of his conversions and also kicked two early penalties in a faultless display from the full back. The Force were rewarded for their efforts with two tries from Richard Brown and Lachlan McCaffrey, with Brett Sheehan converting both scores and adding a further penalty. The win came at a cost though with Lions prop Cian Healy being stretchered off towards the end of the first half, although initial reports suggested that he had only sprained his ankle, but was taken to hospital for scans. Healy was a contender to start in the Test matches so the Lions would be keen to find out if he was able to continue with the tour. Warren Gatland said “It was a good workout, in particular for those guys who were making their first start of the tour. We talked about keeping our patience and when we got down there finishing them off which we did in the second half. Overall I was pretty pleased with the performance and the guys coming off the bench gave us good impact. ” The Lions now moved on to Brisbane to take on the Queensland Reds at Suncorp Stadium. They would be hoping that their hosts put out a stronger team and provide a stiffer test. Tour captain Sam Warburton would be making his debut so the Lions would be keen to ensure they continued to progress.This is always the nature of a composite rugby team from 4 countries. Reader this live format commentary needs to start from page down and scroll up – here the Thracerugby match tracker and the fellas in Hertford, Hertfordshire work together. 13:00 Lions captain for the match Brian O’Driscoll “We’re relatively pleased with the performance with plenty to work on. We have to continue to build on this because we know what lies ahead of us in two weeks time against the Wallabies.” 12:55 All in all a 50 point victory is a decent effort from the Lions, but really with the weakened opposition the Lions should have put more points on the board. Good performances from Heaslip and Vunipola were the big stand outs, and of course Halfpenny didn’t miss a kick all night. Plenty of positives to take, but nothing earth shattering either. The Lions will have a tougher test to face on Saturday when they take on the Reds in Brisbane. 12:50 A forward [pass from the force concedes the penalty and the game is over. 12:50 The final hooter sounds so we’re into the last play with the Force on the attack. 12:50 Last five minutes of the game and pace hasn’t slowed. A good break from George North is turned over and the force knock on to give the Lions possession, but then they get in each others way to give a penalty to the Force. 12:50 Good pressure now for the Lions ends with a good score through replacement lock Geoff Parling. Multiple phases of attack eventually ends with the Force being unable to stem the tide. Halfpenny lines up the kick and kicks it once again. Sean Maitland joins the field to finish off the Lions replacements. 17 -69 12:45 Continued Force pressure is wasted when Norton-Knight kicks through, but they regain possession and continue to press. The Lions turn it over again and they clear to touch. 12:40 Tom Croft takes a head to head collision, but manages to leave the field on foot to be replaced by Toby Faletau. 12:40 The Force keep up the pressure and Alun Wyn Jones concedes the penalty and is sent to the bin for deliberately killing the ball under his own posts. 12:40 From the restart the Force win a penalty and kick for the corner. Good pressure from the Force is rewarded by another penalty after a series of attacking phases. 12:40 Dan Cole comes off and Matt Stevens replaces him. 12:40 Two more from Halfpenny 17-62 12:40 Couple more replacements on for the Lions, Ben Youngs is on and so is Farrell who scores with his first touch! 17-60 12:35 The Lions respond immediately through a fine move from Sexton through Tuilagi and O’Driscoll to finish. Halfpenny adds the extras. Brilliant combination from the Lions midfield. 17-55 12:35 Try for the Force. Lachlan McCaffrey steals off the back of a ruck following some good pressure from the Force and scores just to the right of the posts. Sheehan converts and it’s 17-48 12:30 Two changes for the Lions Tom Youngs and Geoff Parling enter the fray. 12:30 The Lions take the scrum from the resulting penalty and Tommy Bowe scores in the corner after slipping through a pretty pathetic attempt at a tackle from Force winger Corey Brown. Halfpenny converts. 10-48 12:25 The Lions get an attacking penalty in the Force 22 from a late hit on Sexton and the Lions power on through the forwards to just short of the Force tryline. Continued pressure from the Lions results in a penalty for the Lions when Force centre Ed Stubbs kills the ball and get’s binned for his actions. 12:25 Some interesting attacking moves from the Lions. Jonny Sexton has gone for the cross field kicks a number of times. It hasn’t yet quite comes off, but you can see some of the moves that are being implemented on the training ground. 12:25 The Lions force a penalty from the restart and Jonny Sexton kicks for the corner and pops it half a metre in to give the Lions an excellent platform on the 5 metre line, but the Lions turn over possession. 12:20 The faultless thus far Halfpenny steps up for the conversion again and bangs it straight through the posts once again. Faultless indeed! 10-41 12:20 The Lions keep the pressure on and after a series of fine moves from the Lions backs, Mako Vunipola uses his power to crash through the tackle to score in the right hand corner. 10-39 12:20 The Lions force a penalty from the restart and the Lions take the scrum, but the Force pinch the ball on their own line and clear. 12:15 Good period of pressure from the Force and the try is scored by Richard Brown following a quick penalty from the Lions. Good score for the Western Force. Scrum half Brett Sheehan converts to make it 10-34 12:10 Halfpenny once again kicks the conversation from the right hand touchline. That’s 6 from 6 for the welsh full back. 3-34 12:10 Brilliant start from the Lions as Heaslip powers through the tackle and is stopped just short of the line and after three or four probes at the line, the ball fires back over to the right hand touchline and Heaslip is there to finish off the move he started. Just reward for his initial work. 3-32 12:05 And the teams are coming back out onto the field. Jonny Sexton restarts the match. 11:55 Encouraging signs from the Lions in the first half with the only major concern being the injury to Cian Healy which at this stage looks like it might end his tour given how much pain he looked in when he hit the deck. 11:55 Leigh Halfpenny steps up for the conversion and dissects the posts comfortably, and that’s half time. 3-27 11:55 A knock on from Force brings an attacking scrum for the Lions on the Force 22. Training ground move off the back of the scrum gives the Lions a good attacking position from which the Lions eventually score in the corner from Tom Croft. 11:50 Healy leaves the field and is replaced by Mako Vunipola. Back to the action and the Lions have a penalty for offside and Halfpenny kicks the three points. 3-20 11:45 Interesting news coming from Fox news alleging that Brett Sheehan has complained that Cian Healy bit him in the first 15 mins or so, which would explain the earlier delay whilst the TMO looked for foul play. 11:45 There’s quite a break in play here whilst Healy is loaded onto a stretcher and carried from the field. 11:45 Cian Healy has gone down heavily and looks in a lot of pain. This doesn’t look good for the Irish prop. 11:45 Five mins to go to half time and Jamie Heaslip takes the restart and charges up field. The Lions are starting to build some momentum. 11:40 Halfpenny steps up again for the conversion from the left hand side and strikes it perfectly. 3-17 11:40 And the Lions reply quickly through captain Brian O’Driscoll diving over in the corner. It’s referred to the TMO, but there’s nothing wrong with the score and its 3-15 11:40 Brett Sheehan steps up and kicks it through the posts for the first score for the Western Force. 3-10 11:35 Good pressure from the Force results in a turnover penalty which they this time opt to kick for the posts and get a score on the board. 11:30 The Force go for the line out again rather than take the three points and they lose the lineout which pushes them back 30 metres. 11:30 Good pressure from the hosts as they are repeatedly pushing the line and O’Driscoll gives away the penalty for straying offside. 11:30 Breakaway opportunity for the Force after Rory Best overthrows the line out. Sam Norton Knight punts the ball down field and Leigh Halfpenny doesn’t clear up properly and the Lions lose 80 odd metres. Force attacking line out on the Lions 5 metre line. 11:25 Very solid scrum, but Conor Murray steps inside and then knocks on in the tackle. 11:25 Bit of a break in play whilst the TMO checks for foul play. Nothing visible on the replays though so the Lions are attacking from a 5 metre scrum. 11:25 Another good break from Tommy Bowe on the inside who feeds Tuilagi who is hauled down just short of the line. 11:20 The Force pull down a maul 10 yards from their own try line and instead of taking the three points the forwards want the scrum. 11:15 Leigh Halfpenny converts 0-10. 11:15 Sustained pressure from the Lions attack eventually see’s Jonny Sexton break the line and score under the posts for the opening try. 0-8 11:15 The expected inexperience of the Force is really quite evident. However the Lions have yet to really punish the mistakes the opposition are making. Still early days though. 11:10 Good opening break from Tommy Bowe puts the Lions in good field position and the penalty for offside is given. Leigh Halfpenny lines up the kick from just in front of the posts and it sails easily through the uprights. 0-3 11:05 Force fly half Sam Norton-Knight gets the game underway. 11:00 The Lions make their way onto the field led by Brian O’Driscoll. 10:55 Warren Gatland speaking just ahead of the game “Conditions are absolutely perfect here tonight” 10:50 Ten mins to go till kick off and the guys are just going through their last minute warm routines before heading back into the changing rooms. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 5 The Queensland Reds Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane Date: Saturday 8th June 2013 19.30 local (10.30 UK) UK Television: Sky Sports 2 & HD 2 (10.30 UK) Weather: Cloudy with light winds, Max 18 degrees Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa) Assistant referees: Jerome Garces (France), Garratt Williamson (New Zealand) Television match official: tba (New Zealand) Assessor: Scott Young/Andrew Cole (Australia) Queensland Reds The British & Irish Lions 15. Ben Lucas (60 Reds) 14. Rod Davies (43 Reds – 1 Wallabies) 13. Ben Tapuai (38 Reds – 7 Wallabies) 12. Anthony Faingaa (58 Reds – 23 Wallabies) 11. Luke Morahan (44 Reds – 1 Wallabies) 10. Quade Cooper (c) (87 Reds – 38 Wallabies) 9. Nick Frisby (16 Reds) 8. Jake Schatz (47 Reds) 7. Beau Robinson (35 Reds – 1 Wallabies) 6. Eddie Quirk (27 Reds) 5. Ed O’Donoghue (40 Reds) 4. Adam Wallace-Harrison (vc) (32 Reds) 3. Greg Holmes (103 Reds – 13 Wallabies) 2. James Hanson (50 Reds – 1 Wallabies) 1. Ben Daley (58 Reds – 3 Wallabies) 15: Stuart Hogg 14: Alex Cuthbert 13: Manu Tuilagi 12: Jonathan Davies 11: Tommy Bowe 10: Owen Farrell 9: Ben Youngs 8: Toby Faletau 7: Sam Warburton (c) 6: Dan Lydiate 5: Geoff Parling 4: Richie Grey 3: Matt Stevens 2: Tom Youngs 1: Mako Vunipola Replacements Replacements 16. Albert Anae (15 Reds) 17. Sam Denny (Queensland debut) 18. Jono Owen (Queensland debut) 19. Radike Samo (32 Reds – 23 Wallabies) 20. Jarrad Butler (12 Reds) 21. Jono Lance (18 Reds) 22. Mike Harris (30 Reds – 8 Wallabies) 23. Dom Shipperley (33 Reds – 8 Wallabies) 16: Richard Hibbard 17: Dan Cole 18: Adam Jones 19: Paul O’Connell 20: Justin Tipuric 21: Conor Murray 22: Jonathan Sexton 23: George North At last, some sensible opposition! The Queensland Reds named twelve Wallabies in their side to face the Lions at Suncorp Stadium on the Saturday and the Lions would welcome what was set to be a much stiffer challenge than the two previous matches. Captained by the mercurial talent of Quade Cooper, who would be stinging from his omission from the Wallabies squad and would be a man on a mission. He wasnt very pleased with Wallabies Coach Robbie Dean’s decision to leave him out of the Test series and would have a serious point to prove so the Lions would need to be on their toes as Cooper is a potential match winner, even behind a pack that is going backwards. The Lions picked some of their big guns for this match. Tour captain Sam Warburton made his first start of the tour at the back of a pack that looked like it might be one or two players short of the Test forward pack. Gethin Jenkins was also due to make his first appearance of the tour in the front row, but failed a late fitness test on his injured calf. Mako Vunipola was promoted up to the starting spot with Dan Cole taking his place on the bench. Behind the pack, having not set the world alight thus far, Owen Farrell would need to have a solid game to even come close to dislodging Jonny Sexton.With the talent opposite him at 10, he would need to show his Swiss army knife of talent, behind what was expected be a fairly dominant pack otherwise he could well be exposed by his opposite number. Manu Tuilagi and Tommy Bowe played their second games in four days, but we could expect both of them to be replaced at some point in the second half. The youngest player on the tour Stuart Hogg was likely to get somewhat of a test here with the Reds likely to pepper him with high balls. All in all, this was stacking up as a cracking contest. We had a stronger forward pack for the Lions and a slightly weaker back line, up against a weaker pack for the Reds and a stronger back line. With Cooper pulling the strings it would be interesting to see how the Lions combination in the backs handled the Reds. Farrell and the two centres Tuilagi and Jonathan Davies would need to be extremely well organised to keep a handle on Cooper and Anthony Faingaa outside him, and I suspect Warburton and Lydiate would need their A game. The Reds put up a much stiffer test than either of the previous two matches the Lions faced on this tour thus far. The Lions were concerned that Manu Tuilagiu left the field early in the first half after suffering a shoulder injury and Tommy Bowe also left the field in the second half with an injury. The Lions medical staff were concerned about injuries to two of the Lions key backs. The match started at a ferocious pace as the Reds made their intentions very clear from the first whistle. Reds fly half Quade Cooper was the spark and was choosing to run everything often spurning penlties that could be kicked for field position and setting his back line off with running move after running move. It didn’t help for the Lions that they insisted on kicking possession back to the Reds. Queensland Reds wing Luke Morahan scored a superb solo effort to start the try scoring. The Lions eventually got a handle on the game and started to play some rugby with a couple of good breaks from Tommy Bowe and George North. From the resultant scrum following the break from North, Ben Youngs scored an opportunist try capitalising on the mistake from the Reds scrum on their own 5 metre line. The second half was a less frenetic affair. The Lions exerted their authority at the set piece and the Reds continued to try and run everything. Scrum Half Nick Frisby scored an excellent break away try to bring the scores close with 15 mins to go. The Reds continued to run from their own line but conceded the penalty and Farrell kicked a late penlty to put the game beyond. The Lions moved on to Newcastle on the Tuesday to face a combined New South Wales and Queensland Country XV side and would be hoping to build on what was their first real test. "Live" Thracerugby score tracker ( sourced out of Hertfordshire) commentary follows and remember as do the Jewish we start the match from the bottom up – you need to scroll down for the beginning of the match: 12:40 Good pressure from the Reds as they roll the last throw of the dice, but they knock on in the Lions 22. The final whistle goes and the Lions get the victory despite a spirited performance from the hosts who provided a much stiffer test for the tourists. 12:35 The danger of running from your own line is that if you concede a penalty under your own posts then your opponents are going to push the game away from you, and that’s just what has happened here as the Reds are pinged for holding on directly in front of their own posts. Farrell kicks the three points. 12-22 12:30 The Reds turn it over though and are still running from their own tryline. There are only five mins to go and the Reds are five points behind, so everything still to play for. 12:30 A forward pass from the Reds on their own tryline gives the Lions a great attacking platform. Justin Tipuric comes on for captain Sam Warburton. 12:30 A series of set pieces from both sides are squeezing any life and creativity out of the game with both sides knocking on frequently. 12:25 There’s more concern for The Reds as full back Ben Lucas is taken from the field on a stretcher. 12:20 A whole host of replacements in the pack on for the Lions. Adam Jones, Richard Hibbard, Dan Cole, Paul O’Connell are all on, which strengthens the Lions further in the set piece. 12:20 The Lions defence lets Reds winger Rod Davies slip through the net and he offloads to Nick Frisby who races away to the line for the try. Mike Harris misses the easy conversion 12-19 12:15 It’s been a bit of a scrappy affair in the second half. The intensity has dropped off somewhat, but then the Reds were never going to be able to keep up that pace for the whole game. 12:10 The stoppage is a lengthy one, but the Lions get us underway again with the put in to the scrum. 12:05 There’s quite some concern as Mako Vunipola clashes heads with the Reds’ openside Beau Robinson. It looks like Robinson has come off worse though as the Saracens man is on his feet, but Robinson is going to leave the field on a stretcher. 12:00 A couple of knock on’s for both sides and the Lions get a free kick from the scrum. The Lions go forward and the Reds concede a penalty on their own 22. Farrell kicks for 7-19 11:55 Bit of a reshuffle for the Lions. Tommy Bowe comes off and Sexton is on to replace him. Farrell moves out to inside centre. 11:50 First blood in this second half from the Lions who attack the Reds line in multiple phases but good defence from the Reds and they turn the ball over and clear up field. 11:50 The teams are out again for the second half and Cooper kicks off. 11:35 The half time hooter has gone and from the line out the Lions pour forward and eventually the Reds concede the penalty. Farrell steps up again and kicks it in off the right hand post. 7-16 at half time. 11:30 Another big drive from the Lions and the scrum is reset again. The Reds are under huge pressure on their own line. The ball squirts out from the scrum and the Reds dive on it and clear their lines for a Lions line out. 11:30 Big drive from the Lions at the resultant scrum but the packs drop and they are reset. 11:30 Brilliant break from George North on as a replacement for Manu Tuilagi charges right through the middle of the field and offloads brilliantly to Sam Warburton who dives for the line. the decision is referred to the TMO who does not give the try, but gives a 5 metre scrum. 11:25 Farrell converts for 7-13 11:20 From the resultant scrum Ben Youngs steals the ball from the Reds No 8 Jake Schatz, the ball spills over the try line and Youngs dives on it to score. The decision is referred to the TMO as a suspected knock on by Youngs, but the TMO gives the try! 7-11 11:20 Brilliant break from George North who steams down the left hand touchline and offloads to Farrell who charges for the line, but the ball is knocked out of his hand in the act of scoring by Reds try scorer Luke Morihan. The TMO is called into action and gives the knock on by Farrell over the line. No try, 11:15 Good attacking pressure from the Reds this time and the Lions concede the penalty from straying offside. So far Cooper has run almost everything, but this time he’s down receiving treatment, so once he recovers his composure he steps up to go for the kick at goal. It’s straight in front but 30 or so metres out, he steps up and kicks it and misses just wide to the left of the posts. 11:15 Good break from Farrell, but the ball is turned over and the Reds try running from their own line and get turned over again. The Lions on the attack. 11:10 Bit of a kicking dual going on here. Farrell and Cooper are exchanging cross field kicks whilst the back three from both sides are punting the ball back and forth to each other. 11:10 The Reds concede a penalty in their own 22 by holding on to Alex Cuthbert on the floor. Farrell steps up and kicks it straight through to make it 7-6. 25 mins gone. 11:05 The Reds are trying to run from everywhere and eventually Cooper makes the error and passes into space on his own 22. The Lions hack on but there is too much on it and the ball goes dead. Good opportunity for the Lions. 11:00 Outstanding try for the Reds. Luke Morihan scores a wonderful individual try after breaking through the Lions defence then chipping over the top of Stuart Hogg regathering and scoring under the posts. Excellent try which is converted to make it 7-3 11:00 The Reds concede a penalty at the scrum, 10 metres in from the right hand touchline and Farrell steps up to kick at goal which sails through for the first score of the match. 0-3 10:55 Cheers go round the ground as Wallaby Radike Samo comes on to replace Ed O’Donoghue as a blood replacement for the Reds. 10:50 The Reds are determined to run everything back at the Lions. No clearing kick from Cooper as he sets his backline going again under their own posts. 10:50 Exceptional break from Tommy Bowe, cutting inside and charging through the Reds defence, nice pass to set Alex Cuthbert free and he races for the line but is pushed into touch in the act of scoring the try. He’s clearly in touch, but it is referred to the TMO who confirms the player was in touch. 10:45 Solid scrum from the Lions on their own 5 metre line results in a penalty for the Lions to clear their lines. 10:45 Sustained pressure from the Reds hammering away at the Lions tryline but Beau Robinson knocks on just as the Reds were asking the Lions defence some serious questions. 10:45 Penalty for the Reds on halfway and Cooper takes it quickly to fire up the Reds back line. All the signs are there from the start that the Reds mean business and the Lions are on the defensive. 10:45 Ferocious start from the Reds who get stuck in right from the whistle. 10:40 And the teams are coming out led by tour Captain Sam Warburton for the first time. 10:30 The teams are going through their final warm up routines out on the field and there is quite some anticipation in the ground for what should be quite a competitive game. Ten mins till kick off. 10:15 Once again we’re back with our Thracerugby live score tracker for today’s game with the Queensland Reds. The big news this morning, is that prop Gethin Jenkins has been ruled out of the tour following an irritation of his calf injury yesterday. He will now fly home to receive further treatment. Chapter 6 New South Wales – Queensland Country XV Venue: Hunter Stadium, Newcastle Date: Tuesday 11th June 2013 19.30 local (10.30 UK) UK Television: Sky Sports 1 & HD 1 (10.00 UK) Weather: Cloudy with light winds, Max 17 degrees Referee: Jerome Garces (France) Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Jaco Peyper (South Africa) Television match official: tba (New Zealand) Assessor: Scott Young/Andrew Cole (Australia) NSW-QLD CountryXV The British & Irish Lions 15. Nathan Trist 14. Alex Gibbon 13. Lewie Catt 12. Tareta-Junior Siakisini 11. Tom Cox 10. Angus Roberts 9. Michael Snowden 8. Tim Davidson (c) 7. Jarrad Butler 6. Richard Stanford 5. Blake Enever 4. Phoenix Battye 3. Tim Metcher 2. Josh Mann-Rae 1. Haydn Hirsimaki 15: Sean Maitland 14: Alex Cuthbert 13: Brian O’Driscoll (c) 12: Jamie Roberts 11: George North 10: Stuart Hogg 9: Conor Murray 8: Jamie Heaslip 7: Justin Tipuric 6: Sean O’Brien 5: Ian Evans 4: Richie Grey 3: Dan Cole 2: Richard Hibbard 1: Alex Corbisiero Replacements Replacements 16. Tom Kearney 17. Dylan Evans 18. Rikki Abraham 19. Rory Arnold 20. Trent Dyer 21. Adam McCormack 22. Shuan McCarthy 23. Dale Ahwang 16: Rory Best 17: Ryan Grant 18: Matt Stevens 19: Alun Wyn Jones 20: Toby Faletau 21: Mike Phillips 22: Jonathan Davies 23: Leigh Halfpenny After finally getting a decent test against a determined Reds side on the Saturday, it was back to as you were against a pitifully weak opposition once again with this Combined NSW-QLD Country XV side. Rugby Union in Australia doesn't have huge depth. Ironically enough, it would be a good opportunity for the Lions to rest a number of their strained players following the bruising encounter in Brisbane at the weekend. The Lions lost Manu Tuilagi and Tomme Bowe to injury during the game, although Tuilagi would be fine to continue the tour. Not only those two though, Jonny Sexton picked up a hamstring injury which was concerning for the Test series only three matches away. Stuart Hogg was selected at fly half for this match having never played a professional match there, with Farrell being completely rested. I guess they were always going to play Hogg at fly half at some point during the tour given he was being expected to cover the position, and a match against probably the weakest opponents on the tour was probably the time to do it. It would be interesting to see the O’Driscoll/Roberts axis for the first time on this tour. The centre partnership worked so well in 2009 against South Africa, that it would be interesting to see if they could pick up from where they left off. You got the feeling that if they did, it could be a very difficult evening for the inexperienced Catt and Siakisini opposite them. Although this match was seen as an opportunity for players to be rested, game time for others (especially the two new props) and for some combinations to be tested, it was worth remembering that actually there were one or two players here who would be looking to press their claims for a Test place. A few of the guys here would be looking to really press their claims following good performances earlier in the tour. The likes of Jamie Heaslip, who had an excellent match against the Force, George North who was on a mission to make himself a Test starter with some excellent breaks in the match against the Reds, and Richard Hibbard who was pressing for a Test start. This was by no means a training run out. It may have been widely construed as a bit one sided contest, but at this stage of the tour, those playing in the side would be getting used to playing with unfamiliar players, and would be starting to get a handle on the game plan that Gatland wanted to play. There would be no excuses here for a lightening in intensity, and the Lions would be looking to set down a real marker ahead of the next tough test on the Saturday against the NSW Waratahs. The British & Irish Lions recorded a comfortable 0-64 win against a weak Combined NSW/QLD Country opposition at Hunter Stadium in Newcastle. The Lions were always expected to win the match comfortably, which they did, but it wasn’t as straight forward as many pundits and fans alike were expecting. A spirited performance from a scratch NSW/QLD Country side resulted in a solid defensive effort which restricted the Lions scoring. Stuart Hogg, playing at fly half in his first match since his school days started the game solidly and controlled the show calmly. He was also handed the kicking duties and did not falter on the big stage kicking his first conversion from out on the right hand touchline straight through the posts. The combination of Brian O’Driscoll and Jamie Roberts was put together once again outside Hogg which will have given him the experience he needed to control the attack. After a slow start from both sides this was rewarded early on with three quick fire tries in 5 minutes from Alex Cuthbert, Conor Murray and then Hogg himself. The match was only going one way at that stage with further tries from George North, Richard Hibbard and North again putting the Lions in at half time 0-38 up. In the second half Combined Country stepped up their defensive effort and restricted the Lions to just 19 points from three tries from Brian O’Driscoll, Leigh Halfpenny and Sean O’Brien with only two minutes to go. Unfortunately for Country though, some tired legs in the defence allowed the Lions to score a try in the last minute by substitute Jonathan Davies following a perfectly weighted grubber kick through from Brian O’Driscoll. Halfpenny of course kicked the conversion to make the final score 0-64. Overall, a decent performance form the Lions with a few areas to work on. There were a number of handling errors from both sides which the Lions would be keen to iron out ahead of the Tests, but more seriously the line out was a bit wobbly at times. They'd need to spend time working on the line out, but to be fair, the Lions had two “number 4′s” on the field in Ian Evans and Richie Grey. Neither of whom are used to calling and running the line out. Come Test match time were likely see at least one of Paul O’Connell or Alun Wyn Jones who are used to running the line outs for their countries so it would be less of a concern for the Tests. The Lions now stepped up again in intensity when they would next take on NSW Waratahs in Sydney. This would probably be the best opportunity for the Lions to test their potential test match combinations. Good opposition one week out for the Test series and the Lions would be looking to use the match to set down a real marker and ask players to put hands up for selection. The business end of the tour begins. The Thracerugby match tracker to follow - live the experience: 12:20 All in all, the Lions were probably in a no win situation here. They were expected to win and win comfortably. They did get the win, but not by the cricket score that they should have done. A very spirited performance from Combined Country in the second half restricting the Lions to just 26 points when they were tiring was a sterling effort from the hosts. Onwards to a much more difficult test again New South Wales Waratahs on Saturday. 12:20 …and they do. A little grubber kick through from Brian O’Driscoll is picked up by Jonathan Davies and he scores . Good finish. Halfpenny steps up for the conversion and fires it through the posts. Final Score 0-64 12:15 The Lions are still on the attack as the hooter goes. They will want to score from this final play. 12:10 More pressure for the Lions against a spirited but tiring Country side. O’Driscoll gets the ball down in the corner, but his foot was in touch under pressure from two defenders. No try. Since half time, Country have restricted the Lions to just 19 points so far which is a tremendous effort. 12:10 Solid scrum from Country for once and they apply a bit of pressure to the Lions line. They spin it wide, but another handling errors lets them down and the Lions hack it upfield to the half way line and it goes into touch. 12:10 Another potential calamitous moment for the Lions as Leigh Halfpenny makes a hash of an up and under which is then hacked on by Country, but Maitland is there to dot down in his own goal area for a Country attacking scrum. 12:05 Mike Phillips is on for Murray. 12:05 Pandemonium in the Lions defence. The ball comes off the Dale Ahwang’s boot following an attempted interception for Country, Ahwang is stopped just short of the tryline, but the TMO is called for and adjudges the interception as a knock on. A moments panic there for the Lions. 12:00 Solid scrum from the Lions once again and the Lions put the pressure on the Country defence which creaks and Sean O’Brien powers over. Halfpenny converts. 0-57 12:00 Quite a few handling errors from both sides, but the Lions ruck the Country off the ball and attack in the left corner through Halfpenny and O’Driscoll. Murray picks up the ball and dives over but is held up over the line. 11:55 The Lions push it into the corner again, but concede the penalty after a loose throw in from Best. 11:55 Some lovely hands an running from the Lions creating a number of open field chances. Country slow it down and regain their shape but concede the penalty for going offside. The Lion punt for the corner. Best fires it in and the Lions set up the maul but Country turn it over and they kick it out to Maitland who launches another attack. 11:50 Jonathan Davies comes on for Jamie Roberts. 11:50 Try for Leigh Halfpenny. Turnover by the Lions following a great tackle from Sean Maitland out wide. The lions run it through the hands across the field and Halfpenny picks a line and breaks the tackle and uses his power to score. He lines up the conversion himself and whacks it between the posts. Normal service resumed. 0-50 11:50 Toby Faletau comes on for Jamie Heaslip. 11:50 The Lions collect the restart and run it back at Country but concede the penalty at the breakdown which allows Country to clear their lines. 11:45 Halfpenny takes over kicking duties and uncharacteristically misses. Full front row change for the Lions, Rory Best, Ryan Grant and Matt Stevens are on. 11:45 Good maul from the resulting line out for the Lions results in a penalty for the Lions. O’Brien takes it quickly and runs it at the defence. Multiple phases of possession on the Country line ends in a penalty for the defence going offside but they don’t need it as the Lions spin it wide and O’Driscoll scores on the overlap. 0-43 11:40 More handling errors from the Lions gives Country the scrum and clear from their own 22. 11:40 Good break from Sean Maitland who offloads to Roberts but he cant keep control and knocks on. Country run it out from under their own posts but then kick possession back to the Lions who run it back at them and they knock it on again. 11:40 Alun Wyn Jones and Leigh Halfpenny are on for Richie Gray and George North. 11:35 The teams are out again and Stuart Hogg gets us under way kicking from right to left. 11:20 The Lions win the penalty from the scrum and kick for the Line out. The hooter goes so this is the last play before half time. The ball is stolen by Country and they kick it out. Half time 0-38. 11:20 Ian Evans pinches the ball from the line out but it doesn’t fall kindly. The Lions turn it over again and run it back at Country but the Lions knock on. 11:20 More incisive running from the Lions results in Sean O’Brien dotting down in the corner, but he was almost certainly in touch before. It’s referred, but he was clearly foot in touch. 11:15 From the restart the Lions charge forward again into Country territory, but Murray passes forward to Cuthbert. 11:15 Big scrum from the Lions results in the penalty but there’s no need for that as they run it through the hands to North who scores in the corner. Simple stuff. Hogg lines up the conversion but misses wildly, but it was from a difficult angle out wide. 0-38 11:15 Turnovers are killing country, they work themselves into half decent positions and then either get turned over easily in the tackle or knock the ball on to present the Lions with ample attacking opportunities. 11:10 Comfortable attacking maul from the Lions and after a couple of probes, the ball works it’s way back to Richard Hibbard who spins off the back and scores very easily. Hogg pops it over for 0-33. 11:05 They pinch the ball at the line out and run it through the backs looking for the hole which doesn’t come but the penalty is conceded by Country. Attacking lineout for the Lions. 11:05 Good defensive work on half way for the Country and they win the line out. They run a backs move but get turned over easily by the Lions who punt down field for territory on the Country 5 metre line. 11:00 Backs move from Country is turned over by the Lions and they charge 90 metres down field through George North and Sean Maitland, Maitland passes back to North to score. Hogg converts. 0-26 11:00 They opt for the line out and secure the ball. A few more attacking phases from the forwards and they again win a penalty which they kick for touch. 10:55 As soon as I say that Maitland is charged down in his own 22 and concedes an attacking line out for Country on the 5 metre line, and they camp out on the Lions line for a number of phases in the forwards and eventually win the penalty. 10:55 This match is only going one way. Ten mins of resistance from Country at the start, but it really is men against boys now. 10:50 Try from Stuart Hogg. Complete gift from the Country. Poor lineout which Tipuric picks up comfortably and passes to Hogg who runs in unopposed. Hogg misses the conversion. 10:50 From the restart the Lions run it straight back at Country and score a fine try following a number of delightful passes from the Lions. Connor Murray scores under the posts. Hogg converts. 0-14 10:50 Stuart Hogg takes his first kick of the tour from the right hand touch line and fires it through the posts Excellent conversion. 0-7 10:50 An overthrow at the line out from Country and Justin Tipuric picks up the ball and charges at the defence. The ball comes wide on the right hand side to Alex Cuthbert who scores in the corner. 10:45 Excellent second scrum for the Lions as they march Country back and win the penalty, but O’Brien is driven into touch after the advantage is over. 10:45 Bitty start from the Lions. We’re expecting a thumping victory for the visitors, but the intensity isn’t there. A couple of early mistakes and the Lions win a penalty from a scrum inside the Country half, but opt to take the scrum again. 10:40 Angus Roberts kicks off for Combined Country. 1040: Big day for some of the Lions on show fighting for their test places, and indeed for some of the opposition who don’t usually play in games of this sort of intensity. 10:40 The Lions come out onto the field lead by skipper for the match Brian O’Driscoll clutching the cuddly Lion mascot. Chapter 7 The New South Wales Waratahs Venue: Sydney Football Stadium, Brisbane Date: Saturday 15th June 2013 19.30 local (10.30 UK) UK Television: Sky Sports 2 & HD 2 (10.30 UK) Weather: Partly cloudy with moderate winds, Max 15 degrees Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa) Assistant referees: Jerome Garces, Glen Jackson (New Zealand) Television match official: tba (New Zealand) Assessor: Scott Young/Andrew Cole (Australia) NSW Waratahs The British & Irish Lions 15. Drew Mitchell 14. Cam Crawford 13. Rob Horne 12. Tom Carter 11. Peter Betham 10. Bernard Foley 9. Brendan McKibbin 8. Dave Dennis c) 7. Pat McCutcheon 6. Jed Holloway 5. Ollie Atkins 4. Will Skelton 3. Paddy Ryan 2. John Ulugia 1. Jeremy Tilse 15: Leigh Halfpenny 14: Sean Maitland 13: Jonathan Davies 12: Jamie Roberts 11: Simon Zebo 10: Jonathan Sexton 9: Mike Phillips 8: Jamie Heaslip 7: Sam Warburton (c) 6: Tom Croft 5: Paul O’Connell 4: Alun Wyn Jones 3: Adam Jones 2: Tom Youngs 1: Mako Vunipola Replacements Replacements 16. Luke Holmes 17. Richard Aho 18. Sam Talakai 19. Lopeti Timani 20. AJ Gilbert 21. Matt Lucas 22. Ben Volavola 23. Tom Kingston 16: Richard Hibbard 17: Alex Corbisiero 18: Dan Cole 19: Geoff Parling 20: Dan Lydiate 21: Ben Youngs 22: Owen Farrell 23: Rob Kearney So we reached the dress rehearsal stage. One week out from the first Test and the Lions were fielding what looked like an almost complete Test forward pack with a back line shorn of three or four real Test contenders due to ongoing injury concerns. The Lions were taking this seriously indeed! There had been multiple complaints from the visiting fans and pundits that their hosts had not taken the tour seriously. Although disappointing, it is relatively normal for the Lions to face provincial teams shorn of their international stars. However what was getting up the noses of everyone was the fact that the Super 15 franchises were resting players outside of international call ups on the basis of keeping them fresh for their Super rugby campaign. There was more than a little suspicion that these teams were being encouraged by the Wallaby management to give the Lions as easy a ride as possible into the Test series so they would lack the Test match intensity until that first Test. This approach had angered fans of the Lions who had expressed disappointment with their hosts, with some going as far as to suggest future Lions tours to Australia could be jeopardy. I think that is very harsh – quite simply the Australian Rugby Union does not have depth and on a good day cant really match British systems represented in the flagship juggernaut Team British Rugby. Whatever the thoughts of the Lions management on the issue, one thing was for certain the team to face the Lions next was certainly not what it should be regardless of the fact that two of the Wallabies squad had been released to play in the match including captain Dave Dennis and centre Rob Horne. The other notable inclusion was full back Drew Mitchell, although he had not been selected for the Wallabies camp for the Test series. The Waratahs were short of 11 internationals who had not been released from the Wallaby squad. The Lions named a strong pack for the game with only the hooker berth and the back row places still perhaps up for grabs. The line out had been of some concern to the Lions in the last couple of matches so Tom Youngs would have a great opportunity to put down a marker ahead of the Test. The back row conundrum rumbled on with head coach Warren Gatland indicating that tour captain Sam Warburton was not assured of his place in the Test side and needed to put in a good performance. In the back line, it was a lot more difficult for the Lions to field a Test match rehearsal. The players like Manu Tuilagi and George North who would likely make the Test team the next Saturday were not fit and Brian O’Driscoll was being carefully managed to ensure his fitness for the Tests. Therefore the Lions were giving opportunities to impress to the likes of Jonathan Davies, Sean Maitland and the newly arrived Simon Zebo. If the Waratahs could give the Lions any kind of a contest then this would prove to be a fascinating exhibition into the likely Test match side and combinations. I’m sure the Wallaby management would be analysing this match very closely, but if the Tahs didnt put up much of a fight then it wouldnt hugely benefit either side . The Lions wouldnt have the opportunity to really try out their Test combinations ahead of the next Saturday, whilst the Wallabies wouldnt learn anything about the Lions ability to cope under pressure. We all hoped the Waratahs would do us all a favour and at least make a good game of it. The British & Irish Lions recorded a record score in a 17-47 win against the NSW Waratahs in Sydney. It was a decent work out for the Lions in what was billed as the final run out for the Test combinations and the Waratahs gave a decent account of themselves even though the scoreline did not reflect that. Leigh Halfpenny had a stormer scoring a record number of points for a Lions player in a match against Australian opposition with two tries and eight kicks from eight. There were also tries for Jonathan Sexton, Tom Croft and Jonathan Davies. Tom Carter scored twice for the Waratahs in reply, but the Lions were clinical in their points scoring and the final score did not reflect the performance from a decent Waratahs side. Excellent performances all round the park from the Lions. The two locks were immense and had surely cemented their places in the Test side. Tom Youngs stepped up to shore up the line out throwing and the Lions won considerably more ball from their own throw. Simon Zebo started like a train and nearly scored with his first touch of the ball in the opening seconds after breaking down the left hand side. He was all over the park in the first half, but faded a little in the second. Another excellent performance from Jonathan Davies in the centre and the Lions would have been delighted with his performance given the number of injuries to the back line. Head Coach Warren Gatland said “They put it up to us physically and the boys responded really well. I was very pleased. I thought Alun Wyn Jones was outstanding, he carried, he defended really well for us. Mako Vunipola carried well for us and some great stuff from Simon Zebo too. there are a few things we need to look at in the lineout, there’s always things for us to work on.” The only negative point of the night was that Jamie Roberts limped off the field in the second half and Gatland commented “It looks like Jamie Roberts has torn his hamstring, but we’ll have to talk to the medics and see where we are with it.” The Lions moved on to Canberra for a match against the ACT Brumbies on the Tuesday, but all eyes were now on that first Test match against the Wallabies on the following Saturday. Follow the ball by ball action below with the Thracerugby match tracker in tandem with the boys in Hertford, Hertfordshire – as is the norm scroll down to the bottom to begin the match. 12:20 The hooter goes and the Tahs turn it over and pour forward, Alun Wyn Jones makes the try saving tackle and the Lions turn it over and kick it out for full time. 12:20 The Lions are sapping the life out of this game by going through multiple phases of play in the middle of the park. There’s only a few minutes to go and the life is being strangled out of this game. 12:15 The Lions lost the line out on their own throw, and that’s not a great start from Richard Hibbard over throwing. The Tahs charge forward. 12:15 Farrell takes over the kicking duties whilst Halfpenny is off the field and duly keeps up the 100% record. 17-47 12:10 Good steal for the Lions and Ben Youngs makes a break. Jonathan Davies collects the ball and charges down the left touchline to score. 12:10 Jamie Heaslip charges upfield after Parling steals the Tahs ball at the line out. The ball comes through a number of phases on the Tahs 22 but they lose the ball in the tackle and Mitchell clears. Jamie Roberts is off the field and there is a lot of concern about his hamstring. 12:05 Lions attacking scrum inside the Tahs 22 and they win the penalty, but the Lions take the scrum again and win another penalty. The replacements in the front row are turning the screw and showing what they can do. Unfortunately they concede the penalty this time and it’s a let off for the Lions. 12:05 Good break from the Lions after the turnover from Sam Warburton, the ball comes out to Farrell who cross field kicks towards Simon Zebo, but Mitchell fields the kick and drops on it over his own line. 12:00 Bunch of replacements coming on. Rob Kearney makes his tour debut. Richard Hibbard, Alex Corbisiero and Dan Cole are on, together with Geoff Parling, Dan Lydiate and Ben Youngs. 12:00 The Lions are defending their own line and they effect the turnover and kick back to the Tahs to attack again. The Lions turn it over and charge forward but give away the penalty at the breakdown. 11:55 Jonathan Davies intercepts a pass in his own half and the Lions charge forward, the ball goes through the hands and Tom Croft breaks the line to score. Leigh Halfpenny once again fires the conversion through the posts. 17-40 11:55 Tahs Hooker John Ulugia is caught shoulder charging Simon Zebo off the ball and the penalty is given to the Lions. 11:50 The Lions win a penalty from the man coming round the side of the maul. Sexton kicks into the Tahs 22. Sexton then comes off for Owen Farrell. The Lions attack from the line out and the Lions win a penalty in front of the posts for offside. Halfpenny whacks it through the posts. 17-33 11:45 McKibbin lines up the conversion and it sails through the posts. 17-30. 11:40 From the kick off the Lions concede a penalty and the Tahs kick for the corner again. Good drive from the Tahs and Tom Carter drives over the line for his second try. It’s referred to the TMO to check whether he knocked on over the line. Nothing wrong with the grounding itself, but its the ball popping out of the maul that is the issue, but the TMO gives the try. 15-30 11:40 And from a pretty benign situation, a lovely little set of moves from the Lions, excellent hands from Davies, Roberts and Sexton to set Halfpenny free to score. He steps up to convert his own try again and he keeps up his 100% kicking record. 10 -30 with 25 of them from Halfpenny alone. 11:40 Bit of a scrappy start to the second half, but the Lions have secured possession on the Tahs 22. 11:35 The teams are back out on the field and the Tahs get us under way once again. 11:30 “J Davies has been excellent again. Zebo looks lively but hasn’t been tested. Maitland has been tested and looks awful. Halfpenny is very solid. Warburton has been everywhere. Heaslip is playing quite well. Croft is playing in the centre and just tackling backs. as a result the breakdown is unsurprisingly struggling. O’Connell is having a stormer as is Alun-Wyn. Vuinapolo looks to be struggling in the scrum. Tom Youngs is putting himself about very well. Jamie Roberts is being targeted and his gameplan is being nullified. Good game.” 11:25 Halfpenny steps up to convert his own try and he dissects the posts once again and that’s half time. 10-23 11:20 A little chip kick over the top gives the Lions a great attacking chance. The Lions have the penalty but are powering forward for the try. The advantage is over just 5 metres short of the line, but they don’t need it anyway as the ball fires out to the right and Leigh Halfpenny scores. 11:20 Lovely break by the Tahs by Drew Mitchell offloading out of the tackle and setting up a brilliant phase of attacking from the Waratahs. The Lions defence is stretched but hold firm and they win the penalty which Sexton kicks clear to touch. 11:15 Tom Youngs ends on the wrong side of a Tahs ruck following his tackle on Foley and the referee is having none of it. Penalty Waratahs, McKibbin steps up and clears the posts. 10-16 11:10 Excellent take from Simon Zebo from Mike Phillips up and under, the ball is kicked on into the Tahs 22 and the Waratahs captain Dave Dennis takes it over his own 22 and dots down in goal for the Lions scrum, but the ball goes loose and the Tahs breath again. 11:05 The Tahs get a ticking off for the second man arriving at the breakdown giving cheap penalties away after the tackle. Leigh Halfpenny steps up to take the kick and fires it over again. 7-16 11:05 Adam Jones gives away the penalty following a series of attacking phases. The Tahs kick for the corner, much to the delight of the home crowd. The Tahs secure the line out but knock it on over the line. 11:00 20 minutes gone and we have a game on our hands. The Waratahs are now building a sustained period of attacking pressure and they are battering against the Lions defence. 11:00 Simon Zebo changes the angle of attack for the Lions charging around the back of the ruck into traffic and offloading to Adam Jones. Zebo is everywhere this evening. Penalty for the Lions following an offside by the Tahs and Halfpenny fires it through the posts. 7-13 10:55 Try for the Waratahs. Tom Carter scores in the corner from an outstanding running move from their own 22. Great cross field kick from Bernard Foley sets up Peter Betham who strides down the left touchline and offloads to Carter under pressure from Sean Maitland. Brendan McKibbin converts 7-10 10:50 Excellent attacking move from the Lions. An punishing rolling maul down the left, Warburton spins off the back and they pass it through the hands but Jamie Roberts knocks on in the tackle 10 metres short of the Waratahs line. 10:50 Very bright start from the Lions in both attack and defence, some bruising tackles out there forcing the Waratahs on to the back foot. 10:45 Leigh Halfpenny charges down a kick which Drew Mitchell collects and clears , but not into touch and the Lions run it back . the ball comes out to the left touchline where Jonathan Davies offloads beautifully to Sexton who scores a wonderful try on the left Halfpenny converts the try. 0-10 10:45 Tom Youngs is dumped on on his back by Horne, but the referee Jaco Peyper deems it dangerous and awards the [penalty top the Lions on halfway. Leigh Halfpenny steps up and makes the distance. 0-3 10:40 And Simon Zebo has scored with his first touch in a Lions shirt!! But he’s got a foot in touch! How disappointing for the Irishman. Excellent tackle from Wallaby full back Drew Mitchell. 10:40 Jonny Sexton gets us under way kicking from right to left. 10:35 OK, the teams are coming on to the field, Lions first led by captain Sam Warburton. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 8 The Brumbies Venue: Canberra Stadium, Canberra Date: Tuesday 18th June 2013 19.30 local (10.30 UK) UK Television: Sky Sports 1 & HD 1 (10.00 UK) Weather: Cloudy with light winds, Max 6 degrees Referee: Jerome Garces (France) Assistant referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Jaco Peyper (South Africa) Television match official: tba (New Zealand) Assessor: Scott Young/Andrew Cole (Australia) University of Canberra Brumbies The British & Irish Lions 15. Jesse Mogg 14. Henry Speight 13. Tevita Kuridrani 12. Andrew Smith 11. Clyde Rathbone 10. Matt Toomua 9. Ian Prior 8. Peter Kimlin (c) 7. Colby Faingaa 6. Scott Fardy 5. Sam Carter 4. Leon Power 3. Scott Sio 2. Siliva Siliva 1. Ruan Smith 15: Rob Kearney 14: Christian Wade 13: Brad Barritt 12: Billy Twelvetrees 11: Shane Williams 10: Stuart Hogg 9: Ben Youngs 8: Toby Faletau 7: Justin Tipuric 6: Sean O’Brien 5: Richie Grey 4: Ian Evans 3: Matt Stevens 2: Rory Best (c) 1: Ryan Grant Replacements Replacements 16. Josh Mann-Rea 17. Jean-Pierre Smith 18. Chris Cocca 19. Etienne Oosthuizen 20. Jordan Smiler 21. Mark Swanepoel 22. Robbie Coleman 23. Zack Holmes 16: Richard Hibbard 17: Alex Corbisiero 18: Dan Cole 19: Geoff Parling 20: Dan Lydiate 21: Conor Murray 22: Owen Farrell 23: Simon Zebo So this was traditionally where the tour went from a cohesive tour party unit to a potentially divided and split camp. The Test team and the dirt trackers. The haves and the have nots. And this was where the the tour would be made or broken. Those not selected for this game against the University of Canberra Brumbies on the Tuesday would have a good idea that they would be playing in the first Test at the weekend and those that had been chosen would know that they almost certainly would be playing on the Saturday. It would be absolutely key that those appearing for the Lions on the Tuesday were totally committed to the tour and supporting those that had been selected in their respective positions for the Test. Not least, because everything could change for the second Test. One never knows what could happen with injuries, tactical changes etc. This game against the Brumbies was going to be very close. Probably the closest game of the tour considering the relative strength of the Lions and Brumbies teams on show. For once, the Australian hosts were putting out a competitive side with plenty of current and former Wallabies on show including Peter Kimlin, Scott Sio and Cylde Rathbone. The Lions were really struggling with injuries in the back line and this had resulted in the raft of call ups over the weekend. Four of the six backs on show had not played any part in the tour to date, with winger Shane Williams only coming in to play this game and then he would be leaving the tour party again. They had tour débutantes on both wings in Williams and Christian Wade, and at both centre positions in Billy Twelvetrees and Brad Barritt, Rob Kearney was only just on his way back from injury and Stuart Hogg was once again playing at fly half. The Lions forwards were a much more settled unit and there were arguments to say that some of those on show would be disappointed that they hadnt made the Test team, including all members of the back row selected. This was going to be a close game, that was sure. The Lions forwards would in all likely-hood have too much for the Brumbies, but the hosts would have a much more settled back line which was bound to put the makeshift Lions defence to the test. The Lions would be keen to ensure they went into the Test series on a high and the way to do that would be to record an important win against a good Brumbies side with their makeshift Lions side. The ACT Brumbies inflicted the first defeat on the British & Irish Lions on the 2013 tour of Australia with a 14-12 win in Canberra. The Lions suffered at the hands of an organised and committed Brumbies side who bossed the breakdown and caused the Lions all sort of problems in the forward pack. All the talk ahead of the match was that the Lions back line would struggle but the forwards should be able to set the platform for the Lions backs to have a go, but it was the complete opposite in the heat of the battle. The Lions forward pack were all over the place at the set piece. The lineout was a complete disaster. Not just in the throwing from Rory Best, but also the control in securing their own ball. The breakdown was a complete mess with the Lions getting turned over repeatedly, and then getting pinged for holding on time and again. The Lions did not have any real field position and it was no surprise that the Lions were staring down the barrel of a nil score line at half time, but their blushes were spared by a Stuart Hogg penalty right on the stroke of the break. Andy Farrell gave the boys a rocket at half time and it was a good test of the Lions character as to how they would respond after half time, but no sooner had they come back on to the field when a line out was won and Best fired it in not straight again. The Brumbies took the initiative and pushed their lead out further with a couple of penalties from the boot of Jesse Mogg. The Lions responded by bringing on a raft of replacements and the intensity completely changed. The scrum started go forwards and line out were secured and you could sense the panic growing in the Brumbies ranks. Owen Farrell kicked a couple of vital penalties to bring the Lions within two points with just under 10 minutes to go. The Lions piled on the pressure, but they were let down again by their play at the breakdown allowing the Brumbies to clear. A series of scrums from a Lions free kick looked like it might win them the penalty they would need to win the match, but the Brumbies secured the ball and punted up field. The ball never came back into Lions possession and the Brumbies booted the ball out on the hooter to secure a famous win. British & Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland said “I am disappointed because we came here on the right track and the momentum was going, and we have taken a bit of a backward step after a good performance on Saturday against the Waratahs. They put us under pressure at the set piece. We had a couple of not straights and some overthrows. They are things that happen when under pressure and we have to work on that.” “It’s disappointing. The Brumbies played well and put us under pressure at the breakdown. No excuses, the first half was not good enough and we got what we deserved. Our breakdown was disappointing. I was disappointed with the intensity in the first half. ” The Lions now moved on to Brisbane for the first Test against the Wallabies on the Saturday. Rugby-men were, however, aware that this was a makeshift Lions team and when the intensity and gear change was required they were able. As is our want in this e-book, the match tracker kicks in now beginning from the bottom of the chapter and working up 12:25 Fantastic win for the Brumbies. They are absolutely delighted, and rightly so given their performance over the 80 minutes. An decent response from the Lions in the last twenty minutes, but the Brumbies fully deserved the victory. 12:25 The Brumbies secure the scrum and kick it out and it’s all over! The Brumbies win 14-12. 12:20 The Brumbies retain the ball and get the free kick, its a scrum to the Brumbies with 10 seconds to go. 12:20 The Lions go for a quick line out but it doesn’t go five metres and the Brumbies have possession in the Lions half with under two minutes left on the clock. They pack down for the scrum slowly. The Brumbies retain the ball and they run the clock down as much as possible. One minute to go… 12:20 Big scrum from the Brumbies and they steal the ball under immense pressure to clear their lines. 3 mins to go. 12:20 The Brumbies delay the throw and the Lions get a free kick and they go from the scrum. 12:15 Powerful rolling maul from the Lions 10 metres out. The Lions are hammering away at the Brumbies line, but the Lions get pinged again for holding on. Mogg clears to just inside their own 22. 12:15 The Lions are sensing they are going to win this now. The Brumbies are under pressure and making little mistakes. six minutes to go and the Lions are piling on the pressure. 12:10 Beautiful kick from Rob Kearney who makes 70 metres or so and wins the territory. Richie Gray spoils the line out and the Lions win the penalty. Farrell is right there and wants the kick to bring the Lions within two points with 9 minutes to go. He lines it up and whacks it straight through. 14-12 12:10 Simon Zebo is on for Shane Williams. 12:10 Bit of a kicking duel which the Brumbies win with a great kick to touch inside the Lions 22 from Toomua. 12:05 Once again the Lions concede the penalty at the breakdown when on the attack to release the pressure. There are 15 minutes to go and whilst the tide is with the Lions, they are still five points behind so don’t need to be letting off the pressure unnecessarily. 12:05 There is quite a shift in the intensity of the Lions since the replacements are on and the Brumbies get pinged for not rolling away. Farrell is champing at the bit for the kick and it sails through. 14-9 The comeback is on. 12:00 Conor Murray, Owen Farrell and Geoff Parling are on. The Lions defaintely do want to win this and they have the player on to do that now. 12:00 Stuart Hogg bangs it off the post again and comes back into play. The Brumbies clear. 12:00 Couple of scrums to get the Lions front row right into the action from the word go. Brilliant scrum from the Lions and they win the clear penalty and suddenly the Lions have a platform from which to play. 12:00 Full set of front row replacements on for the Lions and Dan Lydiate on for O’Brien. They clearly do want to win this game. 11:55 At last, some success at the breakdown. kick up field from Kearney which he chases, the ball goes to ground in the tackle and Sean O’Brien is right in the thick of things and wins the penalty. Hogg makes the kick and it’s 14-6. 11:50 Ryan Grant gives away a cheap penalty on the Lions own drive for wrestling with the Brumbies props head. Jesse Mogg steps up to kick from the left touchline and perfectly dissects the posts. 14-3 11:50 Big scrum from the Brumbies and they drive the Lions back over their own ball. Huge moment for the Aussie crowd! 11:50 The TMO is checking the tackle on Hogg as a suspect spear tackle but there’s nothing really in it. The TMO confirms all is OK. 11:45 Some inspiration is needed from somewhere. The Brumbies are tackling like demons. Brilliant tackles flying in on Williams and Hogg and the Brumbies are all over the breakdown. 11:40 The Brumbies are on the attack and the Lions concede another penalty at the breakdown in front of their own posts. Mogg lines it up and bangs it through to lead 11-3 11:40 Good run down the wing from Wade and is tackled a bit high. The referee checks with the TMO, and the penalty is given about 30 metres out. The Lions have gone for the line out?!? Big call given Bests throwing so far… and they’ve lost it again! 11:40 Another not straight line out from Best. Not good. 11:35 Stuart Hogg gets us under way again for the second half and what a big half this needs to be from the Lions. 11:30 “Fearing the worst at the moment. The Lions have no continuity whatsoever and we are most definitely losing the kicking game as well as being beaten at the breakdown. The line out is not really functioning and can’t see where we are going to get back into this. Maybe the bench?” 11:25 Extremely difficult half for the Lions. A deserved lead at half time for the Brumbies and Warren Gatland is going to have his work cut out to address some of the glaring problems in the forward if the Lions are going to have any chance of keeping up their 100% winning record. 11:25 The half time hooter goes with the Lions on the attack from the restart and the Lions hammer at the Brumbies defence. Peter Kimlin gives away the penalty for a shot at goal to ensure the Lions don’t go in at half time scoreless. Hogg lines it up and makes the kick. 8-3 at half time. 11:20 The Lions give away another very cheap penalty inside their own half at the 22 clearance. This time Jesse Mogg steps up and he finally makes a kick, one from four. 8-0 with a minute till half time. 11:20 The Brumbies win another penalty for not releasing at the breakdown. Ian Prior steps up to have a go at kicking the penalty and also misses again. 5-0 11:15 Another dreadful line out throw from Rory Best and the Lions are really hurting themselves. The set piece isn’t good enough and given the problems in the back line, they really need their forwards to start performing at the breakdown and set piece. 11:15 Long range penalty attempt for The Brumbies full back Jesse Mogg. The distance was good, but he was just wide. Still 5-0 11:10 Approaching the half hour mark and the Lions are still scoreless. An excellent defensive effort from the Brumbies and they have had a number of decent attacking opportunities as a result of the unstable Lions set piece. 11:05 Good break from the Brumbies from try scorer Kurindrani and they fall just short of the line and the Brumbies eventually knock the ball on. 11:00 Stuart Hogg hits the post and comes back into into play. The Brumbies clear to touch. 11:00 Good attacking pressure for the Lions and the penalty is given for the Brumbies pulling down the maul. The Lions line up the three point kick much to the grumbles in the crowd. 11:00 Another poor line out from the Lions losing their own ball for the third out of five times. Worrying signs for the Lions set piece. 10:55 Good rolling maul from the Lions marching the Brumbies backwards, the ball comes free and Hogg gives an inside ball to Wade but he knocks on. 10:55 The Lions have good ball, but excellent defence from the The Brumbies keeps pushing the Lions back. Not a great start from the Lions who were always expected to have one or two issues in the back line. 10:50 Ben Youngs makes a nuisance of himself at the scrum, the Lions collect the ball and kick down field into the Brumbies 22. 10:45 Stuart Hogg takes the restart but kicks it straight into touch. 10:45 Try for the Brumbies. Some good attacking pressure from The Brumbies and Ben Youngs kicks clear but doesn’t find touch. They run it back and it comes out to centre Tevita Kuridrani who charges forward. Wade chases him down, but misses the tackle and the cover from Kearney is very poor as he is just brushed aside. Ian Prior misses the conversion. 0-5 10:45 Good start from the Lions, long line out throw from Best gives the Lions a good attacking chance, but Shane Williams is tackled in to touch just short of the line. 10:40 Nice early touch from Christian Wade to win the ball at the breakdown. 10:40 The Brumbies get us under-way kicking right to left. 10:40 So here we go. Rory Best leads out the Lions. Proud moment for him given he wasn’t named in the original tour party. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Chapter 9 The first Test Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane Date: Saturday 22nd June 2013 20.00 local (11.00 UK) UK Television: Sky Sports 1 & HD 1 (10.30 UK) Weather: Clear skies with light winds, Max 14 degrees Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand) Assistant referees: Craig Joubert, Romain Poite (France) Television match official: Vinny Munro (New Zealand) Assessor: Clayton Thomas Australia The British & Irish Lions 15. Berrick Barnes (NSW Waratahs) 14. Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs) 13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (NSW Waratahs) 12. Christian Leali’ifano (Brumbies) 11. Digby Ioane (Queensland Reds) 10. James O’Connor (Melbourne Rebels) 9. Will Genia (Queensland Reds) 8. Wycliff Palu (NSW Waratahs) 7. Michael Hooper (NSW Waratahs) 6. Ben Mowen (Brumbies) 5. James Horwill (Queensland Reds) (c) 4. Kane Douglas (NSW Waratahs) 3. Ben Alexander (Brumbies) 2. Stephen Moore (Brumbies) 1. Benn Robinson (NSW Waratahs) 15: Leigh Halfpenny 14: Alex Cuthbert 13: Jonathan Davies 12: Brian O’Driscoll 11: George North 10: Jonathan Sexton 9: Mike Phillips 8: Jamie Heaslip 7: Sam Warburton (c) 6: Tom Croft 5: Paul O’Connell 4: Alun Wyn Jones 3: Adam Jones 2: Tom Youngs 1: Alex Corbisiero Replacements Replacements 16. Saia Fainga’a (Queensland Reds) 17. James Slipper (Queensland Reds) 18. Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs) 19. Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds) 20. Liam Gill (Queensland Reds 21. Nick Phipps (Melbourne Rebels) 22. Pat McCabe (Brumbies) 23. Kurtley Beale (Melbourne Rebels) 16: Richard Hibbard 17: Mako Vunipola 18: Dan Cole 19: Geoff Parling 20: Dan Lydiate 21: Ben Youngs 22: Owen Farrell 23: Sean Maitland After all the waiting and all the build up, we were finally here. This was the big one. The first Test match between the Qantas Wallabies and the British & Irish Lions. The Lions would take to the field to avenge the series defeat by Australia suffered in 2001 and the Lions had an excellent chance of doing just that. This wasn't just another Test match. These Lions matches are rare. The Wallaby players would only get one shot at this, and most of the Lions on show would only get one shot at this. The stakes couldn’t have been higher for both sides. The only man who had experienced this before was Brian O’Driscoll. The Ireland and Leinster centre had been picked to line up against the Wallabies, twelve years after making his Lions debut in the same city. O’Driscoll famously announced his arrival on the world stage with a fantastic try ghosting through the Wallaby defence. Just to remind you. Brian O’Driscoll would line up in his seventh Test for the British & Irish Lions having played in all three matches on the 2001 tour. Alongside him in the centre would be Jonathan Davies playing in his Test debut for the British & Irish Lions. Davies had been fortunate that other centre options Manu Tuilagi and Jamie Roberts had succumbed to injury during the tour and he had been able to stake his claim. That’s not to say that Davies did not deserve his place. After consistently performing well on the tour he has played himself in, but he was expected to deputise for his centre colleague O’Drisoll rather than play alongside him. Outside the centres the familiar Welsh back three of Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert and George North would form a settled look to the attack, and Lions Coach Warren Gatland would be hoping that their familiarity would enable them to use those combinations to good effect during the game. Mike Phillips and Jonny Sexton lined up in the half back positions and much was expected of the two. Phillips came out of the blocks like a train in the first tour match against the Barbarians with a man of the match display, but had not quite been so effective since. Given he would be up against the best scrum half in world rugby in Will Genia, he would again need to up his game to compete. Jonny Sexton would give a settled presence at fly half and his controlled and calm approach would be key to setting the Lions back line off and running. In the forward pack, the only real surprise in the team was the omission of Mako Vunipola in favour of the better scrummaging power of Alex Corbisiero. The former London Irish man (now of Northampton Saints) was not picked for the tour party, but was called up following injuries to Cian Healy and Gethin Jenkins, and the prop had quietly gone about his business and played his way into the team. Vunipola was dropped to the bench in order to better use his work around the field when the Aussies were tiring. The two locks picked themselves. 2009 tour captain Paul O’Connell was an injury doubt coming into the tour and much like his Ireland colleague O’Driscoll Warren Gatland had used him sparingly to ensure he was as fit and fresh as possible given his importance to the side. Alun Wyn Jones had also been kept wrapped up in cotton wool because both players were so vitally important to the Lions chances in the series. The key area of competition however, and one of the Aussies real strengths, would be in the back row. Gatland had opted to go for the combination of captain Sam Warburton at 7, with Tom Croft and Jamie Heaslip at 6 and 8 accordingly. The balance in that back row looked a little off. Both Croft and Heaslip like to play around the field and pop up and cause problems elsewhere around the back line, but this would leave the breakdown area a little exposed with just Warburton there to apply any pressure. This would put more emphasis on the front five to get stuck into the breakdown as well and with only Warburton from the back row making tackles, it could well have been an area the Wallabies would target, especially given their strength in that area of the field. The selection of Croft and Heaslip together represented quite a gamble for Warren Gatland, and if Warburton found himself without support then Gatland would have a lot of questions to answer for in his team selections. The Aussies came into this match as a little bit of an unknown. They hadn't played a Test match (or any other warm up match either) that year and had named three debutants in their side. No-one really knew how they were or how they were not likely to go. They had got a good mix of experience and untainted freshness. The key to this game would be how Michael Hooper and Will Genia got on. If they got a decent grip on the game then the Lions were going to be in trouble because the back line outside them was outstanding and could really hurt the Lions. All eyes would be on new boy Israel Folau, but Digby Ioane and Berrick Barnes were both supremely talented finishers who had been there and done it already. The battle of the breakdown would be crucial. If the Lions front five could support Warburton enough, then it was game on, but if the Wallabies found they were only up against the Lions skipper then Hooper and Genia would run amok. Passion alone will not win you a Test match, but in the case of the Lions, it can make quite a difference to how the Lions feel when they go out to play. The Lions had already had the ceremonial presentation of their jerseys presented by Sir Ian McGeechan. The Lions took to the field representing every one of us and they took a weight of history with them. Heres a rally call and critical opinion from a chat room “On another note, I feel that this Summer, is the time when Australian sport is going to crumble a notch. The Lions and the Ashes – in 3 months. Now is the time to shut the Pom haters up and make them realise that we’re not just a group of pasty white, warm beer drinking, sheep loving, haggis eating pansies. The Olympics showed we can compete at the highest level – against the odds. We can do it. Lets shove it up em.” Who said Queens English is dead. The British & Irish Lions kept up their 100% record in Tests against the Wallabies in Brisbane with an excellent 21-23 win at Suncorp Stadium. The Lions rode their luck a little at the end of the match by giving away two penalties to give the Wallabies two kicks at goal to win the match, but replacement Kurtley Beale missed both of the kicks, the last being the last play of the match. The Lions had been having issues at the breakdown for the whole game, struggling to deal with the southern hemisphere ref’s interpretation of the breakdown laws, and they were repeatedly pinged for going off their feet. The Wallabies suffered with an injury hit back line, losing three of their back to injury during the match. The first injury happening in the first minute when Christian Leali’ifano went down under the tackle from Jonathan Davies. Australia missed two early penalties from the boot of James O’Connor, but they made no mistake in scoring the first points of the match when debutant Israel Folau scored a magnificent try following an opportunist break from Will Genia. Leigh Halfpenny scored the first points for the Lions from a penalty conceded by Wallaby captain James Horwill at the line out to make the score 7-3. Then George North scored an outstanding individual try, breaking from his own 22 to run 80 odd metres through the Wallaby defence and stepping round Berrick Barnes to score in the corner. Leigh Halfpenny further added to the score with another penalty after 30 mins. Australia responded immediately with another try from the impressive Wallaby wing Folau, but O’Connor missed the conversion. After the break, the Wallabies lost replacement centre Pat McCabe to injury and they were forced to put openside flanker Michael Hooper into the centre. The Lions immediately exploited that weakness with Alex Cuthbert charging through the centre channel to score under the posts. Two more penalties from O’Connor and Beale brought the Wallabies back to within two points with 20 mins left on the clock. Halfpenny responded with another kick of his own before Beale responded again with another penalty from out wide with 10 mins left. But all the drama was saved for the last ten minutes. The Wallabies kept up the pressure on the Lions, but their problems at the breakdown continued when Mako Vunipola was penalised for going off his feet at the ruck. Beale stepped up to give the Wallabies the shot at the lead with just 7 minutes to go but pushed his kick wide. The Wallabies continued to pile on the pressure trying to force the error from the Lions and eventually it came with the penalty being awarded as the scrum collapsed in front of the posts. Kurtely Beale had one last chance to give the Wallabies the win with the final kick of the game, but slipped as he took the kick and it sailed harmlessly wide. Referee Chris Pollock blew the final whistle and the Lions and the British Isles were in dreamland. The win gave the Lions a 100% record in Test matches against the Wallabies in Brisbane. Captain Sam Warburton said “That was entertaining that’s for sure. The last 20 minutes was so hard. It’s just such a great achievement to win this first game. ” The British & Irish Lions now moved on to Melbourne where they played the Rebels. Live score tracker to follow and scroll down and work up - Adjust your beer to the left and mouse right. 10:02pm: An incredible end to an incredible match. The Lions start the tour with a 23-21 victory in the first Test as Kurtley Beale can't get either of his two late penalties home. He had a kick on full-time to win it but slipped over as he struck the ball and the Lions take it by two points. You have to feel for that man and he looks absolutely shattered. That was a pulsating Test and the Lions can count themselves a touch lucky tonight. The Wallabies lost three key back-line players to injury, as well as Adam Ashley-Cooper late, and ended up with Michael Hooper, the openside flanker, at inside centre. Christian Lealiifano (head knock) only saw 50 seconds of his Test debut, while Berrick Barnes (head knock) and Pat McCabe (neck) were also stretchered off the park. Israel Folau was superb on debut, scoring two tries, while Lions winger George North replied with a sensational long-distance try of his own and went within a whisker of getting a second. Both men deserve star billing. The scene had been set for the rematch but the record crowd was given a hell of a show at Suncorp Stadium. 9:57pm: FULLTIME British and Irish Lions 23 Wallabies 21. 9:56pm: Amazing scenes here. Beale has slipped taking the kick and it's a shocker. The British and Irish Lions WIN the first Test 23-21. 9:56pm: He lines it up, stalks the ball, moves in, it's on its way..... he's SLIPPED OVER! 9:55pm: Nightmare here for the Wallabies. Scrum taking an eternity and it's reset for the third time. The clock says 77 minutes. Some suggestion Ashley-Cooper dislocated his shoulder and had in fact been playing with the injury. And what about this! Scrum penalty for the Wallabies! Beale will get the chance to be a hero all over again! We are 46m out, almost directly in front. Hold your breath... 9:52pm: The Wallabies can't go anywhere and that all breaks down. It's lost in the tackle and the Lions get a scrum midfield. They will want to close this out now. Expect it to be played fairly tight and hope for the penalty. Lions lead 23-21. Ashley-Cooper off, Phipps on. He'll go to the wing, Ioane goes to 13. 9:50pm: Beale can't make it count. Drifts out to the right and that was his moment to be a hero. Lions lead 23-21 with five minutes left in this unbelievable Test match. 9:49pm: Here we go... penalty to the Wallabies. It's just to the left of the uprights and about 30m out. Huge moment here for Kurtley Beale to try and give the Wallabies a lead in this game with just five minutes left. 9:47pm: Ioane carrying an injury but staying out there. Ashley-Cooper down getting treatment. He won't go off but he has some sort of facial injury. Lions lead 32-21 with eight minutes remaining. This is tense stuff. Wallaby scrum... will they go to Folau down the short side? Might be worth a go. 9:46pm: Wallabies win it against the feed! Now Genia clears and Folau regathers! What a play from the Wallabies. They now have the ball on halfway and get the chance to really press ahead. 9:44pm: BIG play for the Lions. Sexton sends it high and big George North runs through and manages to keep Ioane on his feet. The Lions get a scrum just five metres out from the Wallaby Lions now. This is a huge moment in the game. Lions lead 23-21. Ten minutes to play. 9:42pm: Rob Simmons on now for Kane Douglas. 9:42pm: Beale has been good since he came on the field and makes a quality break there. The Wallabies spin it wide but find big James Horwill in the backline when it needed to be spun out to Folau. That's a big charge and they win the penalty though. Beale strides in.... and it's good. Wallabies get that three points back and the Lions lead 23-21 with 12 minutes left in this first Test. 9:39pm: Halfpenny is back to his best and that gives the Lions a degree of comfort. The tourists lead 23-18 after 65 minutes. Let's see what the Wallabies can do from here. 9:38pm: Mowen infringes and Halfpenny will no doubt try to extend this lead. Both sides have slowed down a bit now and it's little surprise. Wonder if Deans will send on fresh troops soon. A few of the big boys blowing out there now. 9:36pm: Beale does the job and this is a brave effort from the Wallabies. It's now the Lions leading 20-18 and we are heading for a blockbuster perhaps. Can Folau be the man again? Hasn't seen much of the pill this half. 9:34pm: Wouldn't mind seeing Beale at 10 for a while. O'Connor having a crack there but just doesn't seem to have the tricks needed at this point. A short kick or two might be the go to mix things up and Genia does just that. Now a penalty for the Wallabies and they are making a point at the breakdown. Horwill points at the posts and Beale will take the shot from 35m out. He has the longer boot. Lions lead 20-15 with 20 minutes remaining. 9:31pm: Kepu on now for the Wallabies, Alexander takes a seat. Looks like they are sticking with Hooper at 12. He's nothing if not versatile, I'll give that. Update on McCabe is a neck injury. Unsure how serious. 9:30pm: Update on Barnes.... he's is ok for the moment but will have scans on his jaw tomorrow. Lions attack down the left but it's floated forward just as they break into open space. The Lions lead 20-15 after 56 minutes. 9:26pm: Penalty to the Wallabies and they're aren't done for just yet. Gill could be a pest now on the ball - he's probably a touch stronger than Hooper in that department. But this is simply a massive task now with Lealiifano, Barnes and McCabe all stretchered off for the Wallabies. 9:24pm: Penalty to the Wallabies and O'Connor brings it back to 20-15 in the 50th minute. Good reply there from the Australians. Not sure about Hooper at 12. Maybe Phipps on the wing and Digby in the centres? I'm taking suggestions. 9:22pm: Try to the Lions it seems. That was too easy there and it's Alex Cuthbert who tears them to shreds off the scrum. But I think this could be called back for the obstruction. No! TRY to the Lions. Michael Hooper with the initial miss, O'Connor also had a crack and Genia and Beale were too late on the scene. Lions take it out to 20-12 with that conversion. Not sure this will be a fair fight from this point with that Wallaby side looking like this. Three key backs off the field for the night. 9:19pm: This is unbelievable. The stretcher out again for the Wallabies. McCabe this time. A neck injury perhaps and that's a terrible sight. He's carried off and the Wallabies are paper thin now. Liam Gill at openside and what about this, Michael Hooper is playing 12. Wallabies on their last legs in terms of injuries. 9:16pm: Beale away and has the open Folau outside him - but he goes himself! Insanity! Didn't he see the first half? Lions round him up, keep the 13-12 lead and win the ball on the other side of the field. Stephen Moore with the dodgy pass to McCabe, who knocks on. 9:14pm: Paul Cully lauds Folau but says the experienced men must now stand up and be counted: "Israel Folau is writing himself into Wallabies folklore tonight if he continues in this fashion. But the Wallabies cannot win if it is the debutant showing the way, not the senior men." 9:13pm: O'Connor just can't get himself in the game tonight from 10 and makes the mistake there. Drifted across the field and couldn't decide whether to pass or run. In the end, he loses the ball. But the Wallabies manage to win a penalty. Some luck there for the home side. Ground record rugby crowd of 52,499 in the house. Lions lead 13-12. 9:11pm: We're back as the Lions and Wallabies lock horns again. Folau getting a few touches early after that blistering start to his international career. There's a few UK journos in this very press box who have been eating a few of their words already. I'm quite sure they didn't know how good or dangerous Folau can be. I tend to think plenty of Australian rugby fans were also doubting what he could do. Not any more. 8:58pm: LIONS 13 WALLABIES 12 at the break. That's a great half of rugby with George North and Israel Folau really stealing the show. Folau has a pair of tries on debut and North torched the Wallabies for one and was a whisker away from getting a second. The Australians have lost Christian Lealiifano and Berrick Barnes to concussions and that will really test their depth as this match grinds onwards. Join us after oranges for the second half. 8:56pm: Here go the Lions! Stopped short but they win the penalty. Palu right through the middle of the ruck and he's lucky not to get a yellow card there. Halfpenny with the shot right on the stroke of halftime... he's missed! 8:54pm: 8:53pm: Not another one. Barnes down this time and the poor bloke had a glass head after all the knocks he's taken. North chased the kick, which was taken by Folau. But North shoved Folau right into Barnes and he was flattened. Out comes the stretcher again and Barnes is gone for the night, joining Lealiifano on a tour of Disneyland. Cometh the hour, cometh Kurtley Beale. Lions lead 13-12. Two minutes left in the half. 8:51pm: Whatever happens from now, surely that's enough for the Folau sceptics to get stuck into a bit humble pie. He looked on a different planet in terms of athleticism there. The big wingers stealing the show tonight. The backline move was as simple as 'shovel it out to Folau'. 8:49pm: It goes wide to Folau and that TRY is too easy. Just brushes off three defenders, steps and goes over for his second try in his first Test. Wow, wow and wow. They had him covered and then some but the power and spee did them in. They check upstairs for some reason but that gets the green light. Sexton was one of the victims there, Corbisiero got the don't argue and Folau goes over. O'Connor misses the kick but the Lions lead 13-12. 8:46pm: Folau with the great take as he chases the Genia kick! He should play AFL that guy. But Horwill's bold charge on the short side isn't a brilliant plan as he's rushed into touch. 8:45pm: Halfpenny racking them up. He's unbelievable this fella. Lions extend the lead and it's now 13-7 after 32 minutes. 8:43pm: I think North has scored again here and that looked very easy indeed. The Lions forwards set the platform and North somehow ends up with a one-on-one on Genia about two metres out from the line. But Folau might have saved this with a desperate push... we've gone upstairs and this is very close indeed. It is... NO TRY. But it's a penalty to the Lions in any case. Folau was offside. Lions lead 10-7 and want the scrum. 8:40pm: Genia cleans up at the back. Folau caught out there. Clever chip behind from the Lions and they have a massive chance now with the five metre lineout. They win and want the maul. 8:38pm: Barnes kicked long and high and that was as good as it got. Pat McCabe rushed up to be guilty of the first miss. O'Connor couldn't get him with the second and Barnes wasn't good enough with the third. Genia chased hard but couldn't get there. Halfpenny is good from the sideline and all of a sudden, the Lions lead 10-7. We've had 28 minutes of play. 8:37pm: Genia is as brave as they come taking the high ball. Does it for the Reds every week and is doing the same tonight. Leaps and catches that. But North hits back! Smashes through some ordinary defence and runs 60m to score the TRY for the Lions. They lead 8-7. 8:35pm: Halfpenny makes no mistake and the Lions are on the board after 24 minutes. Wallabies 7-3. 8:34pm: Just over 20 minutes gone and the Wallabies up 7-0 thanks to the Folau try. Some worrying signs too for the tourists as they get a lineout throw on the attacking 40m zone. Their forwards are being well contained by the Wallabies and the backline hasn't looked particularly creative. But they get a penalty now and you'd back this one home. 8:31pm: Robinson makes a break for the Wallabies! But he only gets a few metres before he's dragged to the deck. The Wallabies pour into that breakdown but the Lions win the penalty. All of the momentum with the home side at the moment though as the Lions try to clear this one from their 22m zone. A real forwards game at the moment bar Genia's bust up the park. Wallabies lead 7-0. 8:28pm: Genia box kick... and Cuthbert drops it cold. He looked all over the shop trying to get under that one and the Wallabies get a scrum feed right on halfway. Bold showing from the men in gold thus far. The Lions have looked out of ideas in attack to this point. Wallabies lead 7-0 after 18 minutes. 8:26pm: Betting agencies just took a bath when Folau crossed. Had been backed off the map for the first try. The Wallabies manage a lead with just a third of possession so far. 8:25pm: What about that. Some questionable refereeing up the other end and the UK press are not impressed with that at all. But Genia seized the moment and his little kick for Folau was good enough for the big winger. He regathered, flew away and gets a try with almost his first touch. Sensational stuff from the Wallabies and put that down to massive defence on their line. It's Wallabies 7 Lions 0 after 15 minutes. JOC adds the extras. 8:23pm: Lions advantage.... but it's over, then the Wallabies get a penalty. Now Genia with the tap and they are away. TRY to ISRAEL FOLAU. Wallabies 5 Lions 0. 8:21pm: Big phase ball from the Lions and they are smashing away up the middle. It's simple but effective stuff. But this is strong Wallaby defence and the Lions are going backwards at the moment. 8:18pm: MASSIVE scrum from the Lions. Chapter 10 The Melbourne Rebels Melbourne Rebels: Jason Woodward; Tom English, Mitch Inman, Rory Sidey, Lachlan Mitchell; Bryce Hegarty, Luke Burgess; Nic Henderson, Ged Robinson, Laurie Weeks, Cadeyrn Neville, Hugh Pyle, Jarrod Saffy, Scott Fuglistaller, Gareth Delve (capt). Replacements: Pat Leafa, Cruze Ah-Nau, Paul Alo-Emilie, Luke Jones, Jordy Reid, Nic Stirzaker, Angus Roberts, Cooper Vuna. British and Irish Lions: Rob Kearney; Sean Maitland, Manu Tuilagi, Brad Barritt, Simon Zebo; Owen Farrell, Conor Murray; Ryan Grant, Richard Hibbard, Dan Cole, Richie Gray, Ian Evans, Dan Lydiate (capt), Sean O'Brien, Toby Faletau. Replacements: Rory Best, Tom Court, Matt Stevens, Tom Croft, Justin Tipuric, Ben Youngs, Billy Twelvetrees, Stuart Hogg. The British & Irish Lions beat the Melbourne Rebels to round off the provincial tour matches with a deserved victory 0-35. First half tries from Connor Murray and Sean Maitland gave the Lions a 0-14 lead at half time. Further scores after the break were registered from Sean O’Brien, a penalty try and Ben Youngs. Owen Farrell kept up his extremely high kicking percentage by converting all three tries from out wide he kicked. Farrell had now converted every single kick with the exception of one on this tour to keep the Lions other high percentage kicker Leigh Halfpenny on his toes. Both sides eschewed possible penalty kicks at goal in the first half in favour of scoring tries, but neither side were rewarded from the set pieces to justify their decision not to kick. Murray scored an opportunist effort following excellent work by the Lions scrum to force the Rebels almost back over their own line. The ball squirted out the back of the ruck and Murray picked it up and spun round to finish smartly. Sean Maitland rounded off a complete move from the British & Irish Lions, with the ball running through a number of Lions hands before being well finished by the Scots winger. After the break Sean O’Brien registered another score after some excellent line out work. Two previous line outs had not gone to plan so the decision to stick with the line out when a scrum could have been taken was a bold call and the Lions were rewarded for getting it right at the third attempt. The Lions forwards were rewarded again for their efforts on the 62 minute mark when they rumbled a rolling maul imperiously towards the Rebels line. The hosts had no option but to cynically pull it down as the Lions were on the charge over the line and referee Glen Jackson had no option but to award the penalty try and bin the most culpable offender in the Rebels pack. Ben Youngs rounded off the scoring with another opportunist try after taking the ball off the back of the line out and bursting through the Rebels defence to score under the posts. The result was an emphatic response following the defeat against the ACT Brumbies the previous Tuesday in the final outing for the midweek side. British & Irish Lions captain for the match Dan Lydiate said “We definitely had to up our game coming here. It was always going to be tough but getting the result on the weekend helped. A lot of the boys missed out on selection last week so it was important to play well tonight.” Head Coach Warren Gatland said “It was really pleasing. I thought today our set piece was good, we defended strongly. I think a lot of the players made up for last weeks disappointment. Putting a scratch team together was tough on the players last Tuesday, but you can see having the players together and running a few combinations made a difference.” “We talked about keeping the tempo up and keep playing and they had a licence to do that. I think you can see we’re in pretty good nick and the players have to just enjoy those moments.” On the potential for players in this game to make the test side at the weekend he added “We haven’t really thought about the test side yet, but we’ll do that tonight. It’s not over yet, but we’ve got a chance on Saturday to finish things off. We said to the players there will be opportunities, its not just about the 15 or 23, it’s about the whole squad out here.” Here goes with the Thracerugby match tracker, as is the norm with this e-book scroll down and read from the bottom up THAT'S ALL FOLKS I've got some good news and some bad news. No more Tuesday morning Lions I'm afraid. That was the last midweek match, just the two Tests to go. We're back in Melbourne on the Saturday, just a couple of miles down the Yarra, for the match that could decide the series, before heading north east to Sydney for the third and final Test the following week. Lions flanker Sean O'Brien: "We wanted to put things right tonight [after the defeat last Tuesday] - go out and work hard and play well as a team. "The refereeing in the southern hemisphere is a bit of a grey area. The ref is just going to ref it, so we have to get on with it." Lions captain for the day Dan Lydiate: "We wanted to get the result and keep the momentum going. A lot of the lads missed out from playing at the weekend, so wanted to take their chance. "Warren [Gatland] told us to play well as a team and as an individual and to push ourselves for Test-match selection. This is the pinnacle of my career captaining the Lions, made even better getting the result." +++ PLAYER STAT ATTACK +++ The top tackler on the day was Lions flanker Dan Lydiate with 15, one more than Rebel blind-side Jarrod Saffy. Lions number eight Toby Faletau - Brian Moore's man of the match - made 13 tackles and also carried for 60m. Manu Tuilagi made 52 powerful metres from his 11 runs, and produced two breaks and three offloads, while lively winger Simon Zebo also made two breaks and three offloads, in addition to carrying for 75m. Beaten Melbourne Rebels captain and former Wales number eight Gareth Delve: "We wanted to try a few different things and we probably didn't get the stability we needed. Obviously you can't defend against a team of the quality of the Lions for the length of time we did. "I've been so proud of being part of this Rebels journey for the last three years and I'm proud of the boys in the Lions shirts too." +++ STAT ATTACK +++ The Lions carried 538m to the Rebels' 344 and made eight clean breaks to three. The visitors also enjoyed the better of both possession - 52% to 48% - and territory - 55% to 45%. While the Rebels missed 18 tackles, the Lions missed 15 - but they kept their line intact, which will please them no end. Lions hooker Richard Hibbard: "The coaches said there are opportunities and places in the squad. The boys played out of their skin and have put their hands up." FULL-TIME- Melbourne Rebels 0-35 Lions Not a game of the very highest class but the Lions scored some good tries and a few players will have at least given Warren Gatland something to think about. Manu Tuilagi was impressive, especially in the first half. Could his thunderous carrying be put to good use by the Lions in the second Test on the Saturday? Dan Lydiate and Sean O'Brien both put in big shifts in the back row and Owen Farrell revelled in the chance to play front foot rugby. We would find out on theThursday if they have done enough to earn - or retain - a place in the Test squad. 80 mins: FULL-TIME- Melbourne Rebels 0-35 Lions Can the Rebels grab a consolation score? They batter away through Cooper Vuna and Jarrod Saffy but the Lions are determined to keep a clean sheet and when Jason Woodward tries to drive over in the corner, the tourists converge as a pack and bundle him into touch. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is that. 78 mins: Melbourne Rebels 0-35 Lions The Lions are starting to play a bit of basketball but a sweeping attack comes to an end as Manu Tuilagi fails to take Sean Maitland's pass. 73 mins: TRY (Youngs, con Youngs)- Melbourne Rebels 0-35 Lions Class from Ben Youngs. Tom Croft wins clean ball at the tail and feeds England team-mate Youngs, who dummies, races through a gap, out-paces Jarrod Saffy and eludes Jason Woodward to score a cracking solo try, which he then converts from in front of the sticks. 70 mins: Melbourne Rebels 0-28 Lions The crowd goes wild as the Rebels go over, but the ref had blown his whistle a long time before. Boos from the crowd as Simon Zebo wins the hanging free-kick and Sean Maitland clears. To be honest, I think the fans enjoyed it - quite a lot of pantomime all around there. 67 mins: Melbourne Rebels 0-28 Lions The Rebels look to run from deep, Justin Tipuric jackals at the ruck and the Lions go into the corner once again. Time for the fifth try? Nope. The Lions try to drive over from the maul and when that works they try to move it wide but are turned over and Nic Stirzaker leads a lively break-out. 66 mins: Melbourne Rebels 0-28 Lions Tom Croft on for Dan Lydiate. Test blind-side on for the last 15 minutes - not ideal. 62 mins: TRY (penalty, con Hogg)- Melbourne Rebels 0-28 Lions Pick an offence, any one of a handful will do. I think the ref gives a penalty try for pulling down the maul as the Lions look to rumble over from a line-out. But Jordy Reid also came round blatantly offside to play the ball carrier at the back of the maul, and he is duly sin-binned - Rebels down to 14. 60 mins: Melbourne Rebels 0-21 Lions Haha. Rodders (see below), are you calling Sean O'Brien a show pony? A shire horse with a ribbon in its hair maybe. Rob Kearney off - he made 90m with ball in hand - so Stuart Hogg moves to full-back and Billy Twelvetrees comes on at 10. He's a better inside centre, but no doubt he'll be delighted just to be on the pitch. 59 mins: Melbourne Rebels 0-21 Lions The Lions on the attack five metres out but Toby Faletau becomes isolated and Rebels centre Mitch Inman wins the penalty. 57 mins: Melbourne Rebels 0-21 Lions Sean O'Brien is replaced. Is this to protect him? Dan Lydiate is still on - will O'Brien displace him from the bench on Saturday? 55 mins: Melbourne Rebels 0-21 Lions That is Owen Farrell's last contribution before he is replaced in readiness for bench duties on Saturday. The young Englishman had a fine game, getting flat to the line and distributing well in attack, and kicking flawlessly. Stuart Hogg comes on at 10 - he should enjoy this more than his chastening experience last Tuesday against the Brumbies. Ireland prop Tom Court is also on to make his Lions debut. 49 mins: TRY (O'Brien, con Farrell)- Melbourne Rebels 0-21 Lions He's all smiles now is Sean O'Brien. The Lions kick a penalty to the corner and win the line-out this time. They attack around the front, Dan Lydiate feeds O'Brien and the flanker shows all his "farm strength" as he steps inside one man and then takes another Rebel over the line with him. Leigh Halfpenny, I mean Owen Farrell, drills the kick over from the touchline. These Lions kickers really are something else. 46 mins: Melbourne Rebels 0-14 Lions The Lions go right then left, but the final pass to the recovered Sean O'Brien does not go to hand. Safe to say the flanker is a touch frustrated - the line was wide open. 45 mins: Melbourne Rebels 0-14 Lions The Lions have a crack from a five-metre line-out and, although they lose control, at the resulting scrum they have the hosts in all sorts of trouble. They scramble the ball back to Bryce Hegarty and he is forced to kick all the way across his in-goal area to gift the Lions another attacking line-out. 41 mins: KICK-OFF- Melbourne Rebels 0-14 Lions We're back. The Rebels have a crack but the Lions defence is red in tooth and claw and they force a penalty as the Rebels hold on at a ruck. Worrying signs for the Lions though as Sean O'Brien receives treatment, but at least he's sitting up. HALF-TIME- Melbourne Rebels 0-14 Lions It's not been perfect from the Lions, but when they have clicked into gear they have looked far better than their out-gunned hosts. Sean Maitland's try was a beauty, and if they can stop dropping passes then the Lions will add many more to the brace they have managed so far. The power of their pack - not least at the scrum - is making the difference and giving the likes of Owen Farrell and Manu Tuilagi the chance to shine in attack. 39 mins: Melbourne Rebels 0-14 Lions Conor Murray kicks to touch but time's not up. One more chance for the hosts just outside the Lions 22, but Bryce Hegarty's cross-kick eludes winger Tom English. 38 mins: Melbourne Rebels 0-14 Lions The Rebels are on the attack, the Lions fall offside and the hosts kick to the corner. Crowd delighted. Crowd then less delighted as the Lions steal the line-out courtesy of Ian Evans and clear. 37 mins: Melbourne Rebels 0-14 Lions Something that was awful, but has now improved dramatically, is the Lions line-out. Richard Hibbard finds his man and the tourists clear their lines. 38 mins: TRY (Maitland, con Farrell)- Melbourne Rebels 0-14 Lions That's a gem from the Lions. Sean O'Brien's pop pass finds Manu Tuilagi at pace and he blasts through Gareth Delve, takes out three more men and finds Sean Maitland on the inside. The Scotland winger makes 30m and finds Toby Faletau, and although the Wales number eight slips just short of the line, the Lions recycle and quick hands from Simon Zebo send Maitland over in the corner. Owen Farrell adds the extras - the Lions kickers are on quite staggering form - just three missed kicks between them all tour. 25 mins: MISSED PENALTY (Woodward)- Melbourne Rebels 0-7 Lions Sean O'Brien penalised for offside at a ruck. First points for the hosts? It's pretty straight, just inside the Lions' 10m line, and Jason Woodward... pushes it wide. 24 mins: Melbourne Rebels 0-7 Lions The Lions front row slumps to the ground like a stroppy toddler, penalty Rebels and they clear their lines. Frustrating for the visitors. 22 mins: Melbourne Rebels 0-7 Lions Scrum superb, line-out not so hot. Richie Gray loses control this time. Great play from Toby Faletau though to win a penalty at a ruck, Owen Farrell kicks to the corner but once again the Lions' handling lets them down as Dan Cole knocks on five metres from the line. 19 mins: Melbourne Rebels 0-7 Lions The Lions are destroying the Rebel scrum. Darth Vader would be pleased. 15 mins: TRY (Murray, con Farrell)- Melbourne Rebels 0-7 Lions The Lions disassemble the Rebels at a five metre scrum. Number eight Toby Faletau is held just short but Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray spins over the line to score. Owen Farrell makes it 16 successful kicks from 17 on tour as he slots the tricky conversion. 14 mins: Melbourne Rebels 0-0 Lions Nearest thing to a try so far. Manu Tuilagi thunders into midfield, Brad Barritt chips through, but Jason Woodward just beats Sean Maitland to the ball. 13 mins: Melbourne Rebels 0-0 Lions A scrum collapses as though a sink hole had just opened up underneath it. The Rebels manage to hold firm - just - at the next engagement and Jason Woodward booms a clearance up to halfway. 11 mins: Melbourne Rebels 0-0 Lions The Lions are coming alive now but the final pass, from Richard Hibbard to Sean O'Brien, just won't go to hand in the Rebels' 22. 10 mins: Melbourne Rebels 0-0 Lions The Lions go through the phases, with Owen Farrell dummying and offloading to get them on the front foot, but Melbourne's Gareth Delve hammers Ryan Grant and when Grant carries, the Rebels turn over possession again. 7 mins: Melbourne Rebels 0-0 Lions The scrum goes to ground. The props seem quite happy truffling around in the dirt, don't they? From the reset the Lions get on the front foot, win a penalty and clear their lines. 6 mins: Melbourne Rebels 0-0 Lions The Rebels are enjoying the better of the opening stages and are looking to play with width and pace, but they knock on at an attacking line-out to relieve the pressure on the Lions. 4 mins: Melbourne Rebels 0-0 Lions The Lions lose two line-outs in a row - Richard Hibbard's not going to repeat Rory Best's horror show from last week is he? The hosts go through the phases but Toby Faletau gets over the ball at a ruck and wins a penalty. Chapter 11 Test 2 Chapter 12 Test 3

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published on 2016-05-25 23:24:41, last modified on 2016-06-20 16:29:00

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