John Inverdale on The Lions
“THE LIONS have assumed mythical status. It’s the ultimate embodiment of the game.” John Inverdale.
Rugby broadcaster and Wooden Spoon Surrey Honorary President, John Inverdale reveals that he thinks Gatland’s British and Lions squad is spot on. He shares his insights into the squad, the development of the game and the importance of the tour to players and fans alike.
What are your thoughts on the British and Irish Lions team selected?
I thought the selection was initially spot on. But now the injuries are coming through, they will have a major impact on our ability to win the series.
Is Sam Warburton’s recent injury a concern?
He has announced that he is fit and I think we need to take that at face value. Sam is a great choice as captain. He is an excellent leader of men.
What are your thoughts on Billy Vunipola being replaced by James Haskell?
There were always going to be two key figures in the team: Billy Vunipola and Owen Farrell. Losing Billy Vunipola is a major setback. However, James Haskell will bring something different with his lively personality and he will really help gel the team.
What about losing Ben Youngs?
Ben Youngs clearly had no other choice. Greig Laidlaw is a great big match player and will hopefully get to play some of the bigger games.
Do you believe Scotland is being under represented?
When the team was announced, it was exactly what I expected and Warren Gatland made a great choice. However, the likelihood is that as more injuries happen, Scotland will get a bigger representation.
The Lions have announced plans to create a female team. Is this a welcome development?
The only problem with that is I am not sure how developed women’s rugby is in South Africa and Australia. But in principle, it is a good idea. What has to happen first is more investment in the women’s game overseas. We might need to start by playing in America and Canada where women’s rugby is more developed.
With the busy professional rugby schedules, in today’s professional world how under threat is the Lions?
When you look at the schedule across the board, you would think that the Lions tour would be in jeopardy. But the money and investment it generates means that it has sustainability.
Why are the Lions tours so important to players and fans?
For the player, it is the ultimate achievement in their playing career. It’s almost assumed mythical status. And the fact that there are 30,000 fans heading over to New Zealand says how important it is to the fans. Whenever I talk to rugby fans, they all tell me they want to do a Lions tour. It is the ultimate embodiment of the spirit of the game. The friendships and camaraderie make rugby the amazing game it is.