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21st Mar 2021

Clive Woodward’s Lions XV contains one Irishman and six English players

Patrick McCarry

Clive Woodward

Oh, Clive.

“I haven’t gone entirely on Six Nations form,” former England and Lions head coach Clive Woodward states in his latest column. That must explain, then, why he has gone with six English players and one from Ireland despite some damning evidence in Dublin.

If you were selecting your Lions Test XV last December, when England followed up their Six Nations win with the Autumn Nations Cup, there is a strong possibility men from Eddie Jones side would have heavily featured.

Indeed, former England and Lions winger Ugo Monye appeared on House of Rugby, late last year, and stated that at least six – if not seven – of the England pack would get his shout to start against the Springboks. It was hard to argue otherwise.

Three months on, however, and the landscape has dramatically changed. First off, big players like Ken Owens and Tadhg Furlong are fit again. They would always be pushing for places if they could replicate past deeds. Secondly, England have looked ropey in four of their five outings and only truly shone against France.

Wales are still favourites for the Six Nations championship, despite their dramatic defeat to France, and Ireland have now strung together three impressive wins. Even the Scots have that rousing win over England at Twickenham to cling to.

England have a raft of fine players, and they will still have a healthy number making the final Lions squad, but Woodward is stretching the bounds of credulity with his Test XV selection in his Daily Mail column.

That selection features ONE Irish player, TWO from Scotland and SIX apiece for England and Wales. In a team that Woodward has made Wales’ Alun Wyn Jones captain of, Tadhg Beirne is the sole Irish starter.


15. Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
14. Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales)
13. Henry Slade (England)
12. Jonathan Davies (Wales)
11. Anthony Watson (England)
10. Owen Farrell (England)
9. Gareth Davies (Wales)

1. Rory Sutherland (Scotland)
2. Ken Owens (Wales)
3. Kyle Sinckler (England)
4. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)
5. Maro Itoje (England)
6. Tadhg Beirne (Ireland)
7. Tom Curry (England)
8. Justin Tipuric (Wales)

There will always be grumblings over Lions Test XVs – that is the beauty of (and fun with) it – but to blithely ignore what went down in England’s listing Six Nations campaign punches some holes in Woodward’s team here.


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