Lions having a fine time

Heard the one about the Englishman, Scotsman, Irishman and Welshman? They are all happily mixing and blending into a powerful off the field unit with the British & Irish Lions. [more]

Lions having a fine time

Heard the one about the Englishman, Scotsman, Irishman and Welshman? They are all happily mixing and blending into a powerful off the field unit with the British & Irish Lions.

No matter who you speak to, or what you see, the Lions camp has been a very happy one indeed in the build up to the opening game of their 10 match tour in South Africa. But isn’t it always like that during the honeymoon period before a ball is kicked?
Look back four years to the last Lions tour and it wasn’t always sweetness and light as the oversized squad struggled to come to terms with the All Blacks.
The desire from 2009 Lions manager Gerald Davies and had coach Ian McGeechan to resurrect traditional values has seen a number of committees set-up and no member of the playing or coaching staff being above or beyond the fining system.
Keith Earls was fined for leaving behind the Lions mascot – as the youngest member of the party it is his job to carry the stuffed Lion – and set-piece coach Graham Rowntree admitted to “a hefty fine”, but refused to cough to the offence.
If the Lions introduce the old style court system that so many of their predecessors went through, they should look no further than tour manager Davies for advice. For not a lot of people know this, but on his first tour with the Lions in 1968 he acted as the clerk to the court on tour with his Cardiff team mate John O’Shea acting as the judge.
Quite who will follow in the footsteps of charismatic prop O’Shea is uncertain, but Phil Vickery would be an obvious candidate. Simon Shaw, the sole survivor from the 1997 tour to South Africa, is another option, although renowned Munster messer Donccha O’Callaghan might be a good outside bet.
If finding a judge might be an easy task, naming the Lions mascot is currently exercising the minds of many within the camp. Cardiff Blues No 8 Andy Powell piped up with a not very original ‘Powelly’, although the shaggy style mane of the mascot does slightly resemble the blonde haired back row man.
Tour skipper Paul O’Connell promised to find a name before he leads out his side against the Royal XV in the first game. Earls is hoping that Cardiff Blues wing Leigh Halfpenny arrives sooner rather than later so that he can take over the role of carrying the mascot as he is a year younger.
Meanwhile, Jamie Roberts and Riki Flutey were designated to set the tone for the squad by buying music for the team to listen to. They shared a room together at Pennyhill Park before the squad set off for South Africa and they are all set to rock their team mates in the weeks to come by playing the squad guitar.
Joining them in the musical free-for-all will no doubt be renowned piano players Joe Worsley and Andrew Sheridan.
The Lions are tuning up and the action is only just about to start.

Previous story Alun-Wyn pleased with contribution
Next story Match 1: Howley’s assessment
Download