Final battle of the Lions and Wallabies

Friday, 5 July 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

With the schools knock out rounds being undertaken this week, there has been a rather blow hot/blow cold reaction amongst the school rugby fans. Whilst some are very keen and optimistic another set of people are questioning the timing of the knockouts given the close proximity to exams. The fact we lost about two weeks in the season due the referees issue has not helped matters. The matches being held through the week at 4:30 p.m. has also drained a lot of rugby lovers who simply cannot take the time off to witness these games. The question is that should we have these matches on Friday night/Saturday night under lights, with two games being played per night. Maybe the authorities concerned can at least look at the semi-finals and finals being played under lights. This will add colour to the event and the crowd will get their money’s worth in that two games are played per night, with the finals obviously being the only exception. The Carlton Rugby Sevens was worked off in Nuwara Eliya last week with the next leg is scheduled for this weekend at Nawalapitiya. As predicted the crowds were poor except for the franchise supporters. I cannot see a reversal of fortunes in terms of crowd support this weekend either. Given the vast sums that the franchise owners have dished out, one wonders if they are getting their money’s worth. A simple calculation on ROI will reveal the truth. Once again I am told that the quality of refereeing at the sevens was below par. The final test between the British and Irish Lions against the Wallabies is set for a pulsating battle this weekend. Those with weak hearts are advised to refrain from watching the game. For both teams it is a matter of pride and the Lions have made a number of changes. Warren Gatland’s selections for the deciding Lions Test have come under intense media scrutiny and the media appear to be outraged at the omission of veteran Brian O’Driscoll. Warren had spent over a year preparing for this series and his constant cutting and chopping of the starting line-up is reminiscent of a man at a crossroad. Gatland’s constant changing has a destabilising effect, as would be in any team selection, even if one was a diehard Welsh fan. Five changes were made for the second test, six for the third. When you are only playing three tests having so many changes does not breed any form of confidence. In the event the Lions lose to the Wallabies this week, the knives will be out for Gatland and the fact that Wales too under Gatland have not trounced the Wallabies in a while will be brought into sharp focus. It must be remembered that the Wallabies are not playing great rugby by any standard and it will be argued that based on current form, two of the southern hemisphere teams will beat them with ease. The Wallabies will be boosted by the fact that Horwill is cleared to lead the side, whilst Warbuton is sidelined due to injury, and the Lions captaincy mantle shifts to the shoulders of Alun Wyn Jones, yet another Welshman. In the event the Lions win on Saturday, they will seriously explore the possibility of inducting Beale into the Lions’ hall of fame, for his ‘slip’ that gave them a win in the first test. Pardon me, Beale, but your slip is having loads of repercussions. In a related news item, Australian Rugby Union (ARU) chief Bill Pulver has said he “would love it” if it was possible to create a southern hemisphere Lions and also said he believed there was a gap in the international calendar for it to happen. “We’re about to embark in the ARU on a strategic planning process and it really does invite a lot of creative thought to think of a Lions equivalent from the southern hemisphere. If this thought process were to bear fruit, it would be a pure delight to the Rugby enthusiasts as they would have a major tournament to look forward every year, the RWC, the Lions Tour, Rugby at the Olympics and the Southern Lions tour. (The writer can be reached via [email protected])