With just over 100 days until the beginning of the 2017 Lions tour of New Zealand it seems like an appropriate time to look back at the tour of 2005.
When the Lions toured New Zealand that year, the expectancy from the British and Irish fans was high. With a large percentage of the squad made up of experienced Six Nations winners, grand slam champions and World Cup winners, the level of anticipation was well founded.
Oh, we were so wrong.
The tour was a catastrophe. The first in New Zealand since 1993, seven matches were played against divisional teams, one match against the Maori All Blacks and three test matches played against the All Blacks.
It is a sad note that the obituary for the tour could have been written before the final test of the tour was even played. Perhaps it could have been written minutes into the first test when Brian O’Driscoll was carted off the field.
The supposed finest team to leave the British Isles on tour turned out to be a disparate group of stars who were over the hill and on the way out.
The delusions of grandeur were poured onto the squad by their coach Sir Clive Woodward. Lavish words were spoken of the touring squad with little output on the pitch.
This year could well offer up the same outcome. A team made up of confident Englishmen, who have won a record number of games in a row, a coach who has to instil a sense of belief in his team even though they are playing the most dominant side in recent rugby history.
Dan Higgins, Pundit Arena
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