PINK LION RUGBY CLUB CAPTAIN BRIAN O’DRISCOLL IS JOINED BY CLUB CHEF NEIL BACK AND LIONS LEGENDS GAVIN HASTINGS, SCOTT GIBBS & MARTIN BAYFIELD FOR A NIGHT OF LIONS TALES
On Wednesday 9 November the Pink Lion Rugby Club hosted its second star studded Lions event - its very own look ahead to the 2017 Tour to New Zealand. The evening saw club captain Brian O’Driscoll joined by Lions legends Martin Bayfield, Scott Gibbs, Gavin Hastings and Neil Back for a night of ‘Lions Tales’. The 400-strong audience were given some inside knowledge on what really happens on tour!!
Club Captain O’Driscoll opened up about what The Lions means to him; “You have to leave your nationality behind and not always look to what you did with Eddie Jones or Joe Schmidt or whoever your coach is, you have to embrace what the new coach is teaching, what philosophies they have and completely embed yourself into that.”
He also commented on the 2017 squad, saying: “If you can put together a bunch of individuals who have four weeks preparation and build up to that first Test match and then to go and beat the most dominant team in the world over the last 20-30 years [The All Blacks], it would be something for the ages.”
Selection is key in the eyes of the Irish legend, who added: “I know everyone thinks the second row is sorted with Itoje and Cruise but for me Alyn Wyn Jones is a phenomenal player. He has a massive engine on him, is a really good guy, popular and speaks well, I think he just ticks all the boxes. We talked about the necessity to be a first choice and I think you can make him a first choice. The two boys may have to battle it out for the second row or Itoje plays si, but I think Alun Wyn will definitely play the Test.”
Brian was joined on stage by legends Back, Hastings, Gibbs and Bayfield. With incredible tour experience between them, the legends happily gave their insight into Lions tours.
The panel discussed Lions selection and what it means to be a Lion.
Back commented: “I was selected and I cried my eyes out like a baby. Playing for your country is fantastic, but I think everyone will agree once you’ve got off that one cap, to be picked for the British & Irish Lions is something special. It’s the best of the best and I was very privileged and honoured to play on four tours. Obviously 1997 was successful and the other two were successful off the pitch but not on it.”
Scott Gibbs reflected: “It was a total privilege to have the opportunity to be on the tour and a greater privilege to be a Test Lion. I would not have had a career thereafter if I had not understood and listened to a captain and coach and played with such great players that I revered as a youngster… In ‘97 we were very blessed with the beautiful harmony of skills, personality strength and all of those the dimensions that could be put into a team that could win a Test series.”
Discussion then turned to what the legends felt about the current crop of potential Lions. Gavin Hastings showed just how excited the rugby community are getting around the selection for next year. The previous Lions captain noted: “We are talking about a tour that is not taking place for another 8 months and we are already getting excited about it, and that is the magic of the Lions.If those guys become only the second ever side ever to have won a Lions series in New Zealand they can dine out for the rest of their lives. I have been dining out for 25 years after Scotland winning a Grand Slam! How we achieved it I don’t know.”
Gibbs also spoke of his excitement to see the squad announced and even made his own prediction for who may lead the side over to New Zealand as captain.