Raising the question: Should the Southern Hemisphere have their own Lions?

Ben Darvill

In the rugby calendar there are two events that have the world ablaze with excitement. The World Cup and a Lions tour of either New Zealand, Australia or South Africa.

With England being the second best team in the world, Ireland having already beaten the All Blacks recently and Wales supplying some genuine talent, it seems as though the gap between the Lions and New Zealand is not as wide as it would have been even a year ago.

The excitement that the tour generates and the fans it pulls in, not just from rugby, but from everywhere, is something truly unique. So, why should the Southern Hemisphere not have their version of the Lions?

Image Source: Twitter
Image Source: Twitter

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This is something that would appeal massively to the fans of the home nations, who would be able to see the best players from the Southern Hemisphere play in their stadiums, in what would likely be a hugely entertaining tour.

For the home nations themselves, it would constitute a spike in revenue, while it would also raise the profile of the game another step, with more games involving the best players in the world.

With respect to the game itself, it would be a positive step for the home nations in their continued pursuit of their southern counterparts.

Where the Lions have always struggled, bar the obvious gap in skill and cohesion between themselves and New Zealand, is because of the conditions. In the United Kingdom, the wet weather does not inhibit running play due to the slippery conditions most British teams are subjected to.

Image Source: Eurosport
Image Source: Eurosport

This means that the majority of their season prevents honing the correct skills to adequately play running rugby; teams focus more on their forwards, their defence and their kicking. By contrast, the warmer climates in the south mean the pithes are dryer, which allows the players to perfect their style of attacking running rugby.

For the teams from the north, their summer tours and the Lions tour is their best chance of playing on surfaces that really encourage running rugby, which is part of the reason why the Lions are so unsuccessful on their tours.

For the southern hemisphere sides, it would be a massive test for them too. They would be forced into a side with the majority of players from New Zealand, and some from Australia and South Africa, with the lack of total cohesion that hinders the Lions potentially playing a massive role in their own success.

The moments the Lions have written in time are ones that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, with the most recent being George North’s exploits:

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It is more than likely that with players like Sonny Bill Williams coming to these shores, that there would be of these sort of moments.

With the way world rugby is right now, a southern Lions team would basically be the World’s XV against a northern hemisphere side.

Perhaps it would be better to leave the Lions’ tour itself alone though, as it is such a fantastic institution, and instead have a north versus south series. This would potentially see a northern XV tour the south, and vice versa. This would be a big draw for the game, seeing the very best the world has to offer come together and battle one another.

 

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