English rugby reporters disagree over four Ireland players in Lions XV
Splitting heirs, but a sign of Ireland's rude health.
We will start off here with a vow that we will not do a Lions XV of our own until at least 2024. Warren Gatland got the ball rolling in 2022, and dropped an updated one on Wednesday.
Last July, the three-time Lions coach had nine Ireland starters in his 'right now' Lions team. This time around, with the Six Nations in our rear-views, the Kiwi has selected 10, and noted Mack Hansen is unlucky and Garry Ringrose only misses out 'right now' as he is injured. Tadhg Beirne may well have made the XV, too, had he not been out injured, too.
If 11 or 12 Irish selections seems a push - even after an emphatic Grand Slam - then a hearty and hale mention to Will Kelleher, Alex Lowe and Steve James of The Times. Lowe had a glut of the championship winners included while Kelleher and James opted for a Lions XV selection of all 15 Ireland stars. The only thing they disagreed on was two positions.
An Irish-stacked Lions XV
Choosing a full-strength Lions XV - current injuries notwithstanding - based off the 2023 Six Nations, the three writers all leaned heavily towards selecting the Grand Slam winners.
This is no great surprise, given that France finished second, with Scotland third and England and Wales very distant fourth and fifth. With a sole Scotland selection in his backline, this was Lowe's selection:
LIONS XV: H Keenan; J Lowe, G Ringrose, S Tuipulotu (Scotland), M Hansen; J Sexton (captain), J Gibson-Park; A Porter, D Sheehan, T Furlong; T Beirne, J Ryan; P O’Mahony, J van der Flier, D Doris.
Will Kelleher went for an all-Irish team, with Garry Ringrose and Tadhg Beirne coming into his full-strength Lions XV.
Steve James opted for an Irish Lions XV, too, but with last Saturday's starters Ryan Baird at loosehead lock and Bundee Aki at inside centre, and Robbie Henshaw shifting out to No.13.
Former England centre Mike Tindall, meanwhile, has selected just five Ireland stars in his Six Nations Team of the Tournament:
15, Thomas Ramos (France)
14, Damian Penaud (France)
13, Huw Jones (Scotland)
12, Gael Fickou (France)
11, James Lowe (Ireland)
10, Finn Russell (Scotland)
9, Antoine Dupont (France)
8, Caelan Doris (Ireland)
7, Josh van der Flier (Ireland)
6, Charles Ollivon (France)
5, James Ryan (Ireland)
4, Thibaud Flament (France)
3, Kyle Sinckler (England)
2, Dan Sheehan (Ireland)
1, Danilo Fischetti (Italy)
Can't win 'em all...
WATCH HOUSE OF RUGBY HERE:
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- Garry Ringrose in the form of his life and Ireland's captain-in-waiting
- Brian O’Driscoll puts into words what whole nation is feeling about Johnny Sexton
- Peter O’Mahony’s comments on Owen Farrell should take no one by surprise
- James Lowe challenges Ireland's Grand Slam winners to scale even greater heights
- Three Ireland stars nominated for Six Nations Player of the Championship