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The 16 year wait is over. The Lions crushed Australia in Sydney, finally delivering the performance that had been promised all tour.Back to story
Hi Stuart With the recent announcement that the 2014 heineken and amlin cup finals are to be played in cardiff AGAIN. Why is that the rugby bosses canoot consider taking the finals elsewhere because in last few years its been a cardiff or twickenham roadshow. Why hasnt the finals gone to somewhere like olympic stadium in Rome yet or perhaps brussels, amsterdam or barcelona somewhere different that would help promote rugby and show that is it a proper european tournament played in other european countries what are your thoughts please Neil, Essex
Posted 16:13 17th July 2013
Stuart - I think this is a fairly well-balanced article. The glaring omission, however, is your failure to take back some of the pretty awful, and utterly unbalanced comments you made before the match. Your assessment of the dropping of O'Driscoll was pretty unambiguous, in fact you referred to it at one point on the final test preview programme as a "catastrophic" error - not even prefixed by the word "potentially". I think Gatland has shown that decision to be entirely justified, and can feel entirely vindicated, and while you have mentioned this, it is very brief given the vehemence with which you made this assessment prior to the match. In addition to this, your scathing assessment of the Welsh players in the squad, and their failure to beat Australia over the last couple of years, was unfair, and also put in a very insulting way. You seemed to forget that the same Welsh contingent, along with some considerable input from English and Irish counterparts, had beaten Australia two weeks earlier, and lost by a point (with a few notable absentees) a week earlier. I think, if anything, Gatland has proven how brave he is prepared to be in the face of some of the so-called experts who are very keen to criticise his selections before they have seen the results. I almost got the impression from you and various others (Austin Healy for example), that you wanted the Lions to lose, simply so you could continue your critique. I think that can also be seen in the tone of this article, in which you seem to attempt to play down the significance of this series win. Ultimately, your comments pre and post made will fade into insignificance - whereas the series win will remain in history. We will see in years to come what becomes of this Australia team, which may provide fresh perspective on the Lions' collective success. Roll on 2017!!
Posted 11:52 12th July 2013
Hi Stuart, I would like to challenge you on your comment "Just as Irish fans have to accept the decision of Gatland to opt for Welsh centres, Welsh supporters should recognise, on the evidence of this game, that the best Lions back row did not include their captain" You are not comparing apples for apples on this. Regarding O'Brien (who was outstanding by the way), had the benefit of being on the front foot. His backrow partners, Lidiate and Faleau are significant threats at breakdown, neither play as loose as Heaslip and Croft so O'Brien had greater support in the contact area. Also I feel the Australia made two critical mistakes, one being starting George Smith (an all time great but the pace and intensity of the game has changed), the second keeping him on after the Hibbard collision. I believe Sam Warburton would have thrived in that environment. O'Driscoll's omission was tactical more than personal. Gatland chose combinations in critical areas, one being at 8 & 9, the other at 12 & 13. The game plan was always based on power, if Roberts only lasted the first 15 minutes he had to guarantee a similar power player could replace him, the lions in the first and second test were too lateral and that was due to the form outside centres playing. Tuilagi runs direct and hard, Jonathan Davies is very adept at picking lines of such runners and therefore just edged O'Driscoll in the starting line up. Finally, I have very much enjoyed your analysis and Sky's coverage of what is now a legendary sporting event.
Posted 12:27 9th July 2013
Stuart Barnes stop with the could have, would have, should have. Australia are without doubt a world top three side that do not give games away easily. The Lions were NOT lucky they were simply better. The series win was NOT because of a poor Australian side but because of a dominant better Lions side. Australia were outclassed. With regards to your comments on the fact that the whole tour was not electric please grow up and realise that to win down under is a huge ask of any team especially a team that has only been together for 8 weeks. Please be more considerate to the extremely brave and talented Lions squad who left all they had out on the field for us all to enjoy a classic Lions Tour victory!
Posted 21:42 8th July 2013
Barnes, The reason that the 'best back row of the Tour' did not include Sam Warburton is simple; the presence of Toby Faletau doing what No.8s are supposed to do...ball carrying and getting over the gainline. Not playing wingers.
Posted 19:56 8th July 2013
Well done the Lions, but the Lions should always win when the figures are taken into account!. There are nearly 3 million players in the home countries as opposed to a mere 86 000 in Australia.(approx. figures). So does this mean that most Lions' teams under perform?
Posted 10:18 8th July 2013
This series win is the more memorable when you compare this whole tour with the 1997 Lions. The lead-in time was minimal - half the squad was not available until after the first match - and the opposition they faced was largely below-strength. As a result, Gatland and his assistant had insufficient time to assess individual players, let alone weld them into combinations and, in effect, when coupled with the injuries which the squad sustained, the first two Tests were trial matches. It was only in the 3rd Test that the Lions could field their best XV. So this series win really is the stuff of legends.
Posted 09:28 8th July 2013