Way back in 1968 a young Cambridge University centre had to act as clerk to the British & Irish Lions court. The uncompromising Cardiff prop John O’Shea acted as the Judge and meted out stiff fines and penalties to his fellow players.
These days, Gerald Davies has graduated to the role of Lions Team manager, yet the tradition of players’ courts is being upheld on the 2009 tour. A little bit of fun goes a long, long way on tour and would-be lawyer Alun-Wyn Jones has been given the task of acting as the Judge.
So far, so good. Nobody has escaped his extensive fining system.
“I’m not a liberal judge and don’t give anyone any slack,” he pointed out this week. “There is no point – and it makes the kitty larger.”
Some of the money raised will be donated to charity, but the rest is destined for an end of tour event. But what has been the best fine to date.
“The favourite fine so far was to Brian O’Driscoll. We were at a event at the British Embassy and there was a pool that was covered,” explained Jones.
“I can reveal that as great and talented a player as Brian is not even he can walk on water. He tried his best to walk across the cover, but he got his feet wet. I had to fine him for not being able to walk on water – it was quite a shock to many of us!”
The players have been assigned many positions off the field, but one who has found himself a little bit out in the cold and lacking responsibility is Leinster and Ireland No 8 Jamie Heaslip.
Why? Well it all goes back to an incident during last season’s RBS Six Nations Championship when he turned down a gilt edged opportunity for his team mates. Let him take up the story.
“I was watching a Leinster Schools game at my old college, Newbridge, and we weren’t doing very well. I got a call on the phone and it was asking me whether or not I’d like Snow Patrol to do a private gig for the Irish team,” admitted Heaslip.
“I was a bit grumpy at the time and I turned them down. It didn’t take long for me to be sacked a chairman of the Social Committee.
“I had to write a letter of apology and pay a big fine. I also had to sing a song in front of the whole team as a punishment.”
The Lions mascot is on its way back into the grip of Munster and Ireland centre Keith Earls following the announcement that Leigh Halfpenny will be heading home.
The 21-year-old Earls had to look after ‘Lenny’ for the first week while the 20-year-old Halfpenny underwent treatment at home for his thigh muscle injury. But following the unfortunate news that Halfpenny will be returning home with a recurrence of his thigh injury the mascot will return to Earls for safekeeping.
It is not an easy job looking after the mascot 24 hours a day, as Halfpenny can testify. “He kept on going missing and I was getting fined for not looking after him.”