David Flatman has argued that the British and Irish Lions should no longer play provincial sides as they do not present a real challenge to the tourists.
The Lions have claimed comfortable victories in their four games against South African provincial opposition on tour this summer, winning those games by an average of 44 points.
Former England prop Flatman was writing in The XV about future Lions tours and argued that the tourists should play international opposition as warm-up games before the next test series against the Wallabies.
Join @DavidFlatman and his special guests @Hambofoundation @Paul_OConnell, @EmilyScarratt live on the Lions app for @VodafoneUK Lions Live tomorrow at 6pm, as they discuss all things #LionsRugby, ahead of Saturday’s Test match #UniteThePride
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‘I’d love to see the French included in Australia.’
“Can anyone reasonably expect the Aussies to field five or six savage Super Rugby teams in the build-up to the test series to really hammer in to and prepare the Lions?”, Flatman wrote.
“Will it be a Lions tour for the ages, one during which we see every player pushed to his limit and given hell before the career-defining days arrive? Right now, it seems unlikely.
“As counter-intuitive as it may sound, I’d love to see the French included in Australia. Not in Lions selection, of course, but as opposition.
“Bring in a fully loaded Tonga, Fiji and Samoa too, as proper opposition. One match versus each of the South Sea Islands and one or two against France, and you’d be talking about a globally-engaging rugby happening.”
The Lions’ past games against provincial opposition.
While the Lions’ games against provincial opposition in South Africa have been one-sided affairs, the same can’t be said for the last two tours to New Zealand and Australia.
The tourists won just two of their five games against New Zealand’s five Super Rugby sides in 2017, as they were beaten by the Blues and Highlanders, while they drew against the Hurricanes.
The Lions won four of their five games against Australia’s Super Rugby sides in 2013, as they fell to a 14-12 defeat to the Brumbies in Canberra four days before the first test against the Wallabies.
While South Africa’s top provincial sides have failed to challenge the Lions, it should be noted that they didn’t have access to their Springboks stars for Covid-related reasons.
South African sides also lose more players on average to overseas clubs than those found in both New Zealand and Australia, which is not helped by the Springboks’ policy of selecting non-domestic players.