So the Lions tour came to an end in breathless fashion as the British and Irish selection dug in deep to draw with the All Blacks 15-15 at Eden Park which ended the hosts’ winning streak stretching back to 1994.
The draw was clearly a result that the Lions did not want and the tone of Sam Warburton and Maro Itoje in the post-match interviews very much reflected the disappointment they could not win the series decider.
Despite the result though there is plenty to be positive about following the conclusion of what has been a dramatic Lions series.
1. Nobody Gave Them a Chance
Before the start of the Test series the Lions suffered a humbling defeat to the Blues and were far from convincing against the Provincial Barbarians and the Chiefs.
Coming into the first Test they were way off any kind of form and New Zealand made them pay in the final quarter smashing the Lions back and dominating the breakdown to take the first test 30-15.
In the second Test though, after much criticism of Gatland’s selection, the Lions showed real dogged determination and turned on the power. The tourists just seemed to click and the shock victory in Wellington gave Steve Hansen some sleepless nights.
The fact they managed this when everyone seemed against them is a testament not only to Gatland but the players character and determination which was backed up by two gutsy performances.
2. New Zealand Have Been Beaten At Home
The Wellington Test saw New Zealand lose at home for the first time in nine years, this is a good thing for world rugby rather than specifically the Lions.
It has shown that New Zealand are not all conquering at home, a 3-0 whitewash would have been a travesty and further enhanced the All Blacks credentials as possibly the single greatest side of all time.
It would also have further given New Zealand a certain monopoly over international rugby something which has to be changed and fortunately due to the Lions series this has been stopped for the time being.
3. It Gives the Lions a Future
The debate has raged for some years now over whether a Lions tour is viable anymore, with league play-offs and an already congested season is a five-week tour an option for the Lions?
This tour has answered with a resounding yes, the fact that the British and Irish Lions have drawn the series has silenced critics of the tour which some perceive as just a ‘cash cow’ for the home unions.
Had the Lions lost 3-0 there was speculation of possibly shortening the tour and then getting rid of one of rugby’s great traditions.
So a drawn series might not be the result either set of fans wanted but as the dust settles there is time to reflect and there are many positives to take from this history making tour.
Fred Blagden, Pundit Arena
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