Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Players, fans unite behind the Lions

RUGBY-LIONS/All professional sportsmen talk about how important their supporters are but when it comes to the British and Irish Lions there really is a special bond.

Defying the credit crunch, up to 30,000 fans are expected to travel to South Africa to follow the Lions in their three-test series against the world champions.

Those fans, who spend most of their time in opposition as they follow England, Wales, Scotland or Ireland, are, like the players, united in one cause for a few weeks every four years.

They are united in colours too, as the red shirt of the Lions — which adidas say will be by far their biggest seller of the year — is everywhere.

My British & Irish Lions All-Time Best XV


guscottThe rarity value of the Lions’ tours adds to their romance. Once every four years they travel, alternately, to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand and, every four years, the temptation for pundits to choose a Lions All Time Best XV becomes irresistible.

It certainly was in my case, and here is my stab at picking the best XV.

I don’t expect anyone will agree with my choices completely, and please let me know in the comments where you think I’ve gone wrong. Anyway, here goes…

Who should captain the Lions in South Africa?



The Six Nations provided a stirring finale and a lifetime of memories for Ireland fans but few watching from South Africa will have been left quaking in their boots ahead of this year’s British and Irish Lions tour.

That is exactly how wily Lions coach Ian McGeechan will want it as he plots a repeat of 1997 when his unfancied group triumphed there in the first Lions tour of the professional era.