Vickery: Nothing better than representing the Lions
18 December 2014 11:29am
Phil Vickery played on two British & Irish Lions tours
Representing the British & Irish Lions is the pinnacle of any player's career, according to two-Tour veteran Phil Vickery, who says the experience is further enhanced by the mass support afforded to them in the southern hemisphere.
The former tighthead prop played in all three Tests during the 2001 tour to Australia, and twice in South Africa in 2009, though missed the 2005 trip to New Zealand due to injury.
And though Vickery, a World Cup winner with England in 2003, did not taste a series win with the Lions, playing his part in two Test victories and captaining the side against the Western Province has left him with his fondest rugby memories.
"The first Test against Australia I remember being in the hotel and there was a sea of red in the hotel lobby," he recalls.
"I remember there being a tunnel of people to walk through to get to the bus. Then all the way to the stadium there were people in cars, standing on lorries, hanging out windows, there were red shirts everywhere.
"The Lions support was just taking over the place. At the time you think I'm playing for the biggest team in the world, against the best team in the world, in the biggest stadium in the world, it doesn't get better, this is a big deal."
New Zealand is the next destination for the Lions in 2017.
And chairman Gerald Davies believes the magnitude of support the tourists are almost certain to get can make all the difference.
"With the Lions there is a great army of support, whether it is in South Africa, Australia or New Zealand," he said. "There is great red tide of people shifting from one city to the next."