Tipuric predicting huge challenge for Lions in South Africa
Justin Tipuric believes the size of the challenge awaiting the British & Irish Lions on the 2021 Tour to South Africa was clear for all to see at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
The Springboks defeated both Tipuric’s Wales and England to lift the famous Webb Ellis Cup for a third time, sparking jubilant celebrations across the nation.
South Africa’s compelling victory in Yokohama means the Lions will take on the world champions for a second consecutive Tour, having drawn 1-1 with New Zealand in 2017.
And as a veteran of two Tours, Tipuric admits the prospect of locking horns with the men in green and gold in 2021 now presents an even more tantalising prospect than before.
But Lion No.786 is refusing to get ahead of himself just yet – even if the opportunity to exact revenge for Wales’ semi-final heart-breaking defeat remains high on his priority list.
“The 2021 Tour is a long way away especially in the rugby world,” said the 30-year-old. “Personally, you can’t look that far ahead because anything can happen at any time.
“I’ll take one game at a time from my point of view but obviously if I’m still going well, if I’m still playing well, then obviously anyone who is doing that wants to represent the Lions.
“It definitely couldn’t be better set up for the Lions to tour South Africa with them winning the Rugby World Cup. I think it’s probably going to be a great Tour for everyone involved.
“They showed how much strength in depth they’ve got during the World Cup as they took a few bumps and bruises and had players who could step in, second, third choice in their squad.
“That shows even the mid-week games to the Test games, it’s all going to be so competitive over there. We are probably going to need everyone at their best for that Tour.”
The Springboks’ success in Japan not only saw Rassie Erasmus’ men achieve a record-equalling third World Cup triumph, it also provided another iconic moment in the country’s history.
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Siya Kolisi holding aloft the trophy as South Africa’s first black captain was a striking image that transcended rugby, representing unity in a team previously defined by segregation.
And Tipuric acknowledges that the story behind the Springboks adds extra weight to events on the pitch – something the Welshman has experienced for both club and country.
“You hear about the story behind South African rugby and obviously with two of their teams being part of the Guinness PRO14, I’ve played over there and see it with my own eyes,” he said.
“You totally understand the emotion they are all going through. I guess it was the same with Wales wanting to get to that final but with South Africa, there’s that little extra.
“With the stories you hear of the players and what they’ve been through, you can understand the emotions they go through. Unfortunately for us, the semi-final didn’t go our way.”
Tipuric was speaking at an event to celebrate Canterbury renewing their deal as Official Apparel Partner with the Lions, visiting Trebanos RFC in Swansea where his rugby journey began.
As part of the partnership, Canterbury will also be offering Lions Origin Clubs – those teams who have produced a player who has gone on to play for the Lions – the opportunity to have their Canterbury kits personalised with the logo of the Lions Origin Club to proudly celebrate the achievement.
To announce the news, Canterbury today held media events at the homes of four amateur teams who have previously developed a Lions player – Tipuric heading to Trebanos, Manu Tuilagi at Moseley Rugby Club, David Wallace at Buccaneers RFC and Jim Renwick at Hawick RFC.
Canterbury also invited local junior teams along to take part in competitions to design a new kit with the regional winners chosen by the Lions stars and the four winning kits will now be put to a public vote on social media to decide the overall winner.
The victors will see their kit brought to life by Canterbury – complete with the commemorative Lions Origin Club logo. Fans can vote for their favourite kit by visiting the Canterbury or British & Lions social channels.
While at Trebanos, Tipuric also reflected on a rise through the ranks that has seen him earn Wales and Lions honours under the guidance of Warren Gatland, who the back-rower insists will be a key ace up the tourists’ sleeve in 2021.
“Warren Gatland is just a winner,” he said. “It’s simple really. He loves winning and he knows how to do it, that’s whatever it takes, the way of rugby you play or whether it’s in the press.
“He just knows how to win and I don’t think there are many coaches out there like him. It’s a tough job being Lions head coach and I don’t think people realise how tough it is.
“It’s great that he’s in charge again as that consistency helps. He has a lot of experience from the previous Tours and he went on the one when they were in South Africa last time [as an assistant coach in 2009].
“So he knows what it takes and if I was lucky enough to get picked, with the country it’s in and the history of the games that have gone before then it would be great to be a part of that.”