As someone who coached the Lions on four separate tours (and played on two others), Sir Ian McGeechan is better qualified than most to give his opinion on the best players to don the famous red shirt.
The former Scotland international was in charge of the Lions in 1989, 1993, 1997 and 2009 (as well as coaching the midweek games upon Clive Woodward’s invitation in 2005) to varying degrees of success, so has a large pool to choose from when it comes to selecting his all-time XV from the squads that he has coached.
In an extract from his new book The Lions, When the Going Gets Tough which has been serialised in Telegraph in the past few days, McGeechan has run the rule over the best fifteen to play under him, but begins with an apology to those that he has left out:
“There were many difficult decisions here, and I hope that those omitted understand how marginal some of the calls were, but what I am certain of is that I would not have minded coaching this side. But then again I loved coaching all my Lions teams.
“It was always an honour and a pleasure. I have been very lucky.”
Among those players to be left out, the 70-year-old names the likes of Keith Wood, Simon Shaw, Dean Richards, Alan Tait, Jamie Roberts and Brian O’Driscoll as those who almost made the cut.
In all, McGeechan selected an interesting combination of the four nations, but it is still one that it is dominated somewhat by England. In all seven English players make the team (the majority of which are forwards), with three each from Wales and Scotland, and two from Ireland.
Backs: 15. Gavin Hastings (Scotland) 14. Ieuan Evans (Wales), 13. Jeremy Guscott (England), 12. Scott Gibbs (Wales), 11. Tommy Bowe (Ireland), 10. Gregor Townsend (Scotland), 9. Matt Dawson (England).
Forwards: 1. David Sole (Scotland), 2. Brian Moore (England), 3. Dai Young (Wales), 4. Martin Johnson (England), 5. Paul O’Connell (Ireland), 6. Mike Teague (England), 7. Richard Hill (England), 8. Lawrence Dallaglio (England).
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