Ugo Monye's revised Lions XV dominated by Welsh and Irish 2 weeks ago

Ugo Monye's revised Lions XV dominated by Welsh and Irish

A seismic change since the former England star spoke with us on House of Rugby.

Ugo Monye has six Welsh players in his Lions XV for the First Test against South Africa, this summer, with five from Ireland and two apiece from England and Scotland.

If you want to see how much the fortunes of the various northern hemisphere nations have fared, over the past six months, one just has to look at the Lions team selections the leading pundits and writers picked last November and December. Then look at the 'Best 15s' over the past few weeks.

Monye is not the only person to find themselves going on form with his Lions selections, with only Maro Itoje and Anthony Watson making it into his team.

It is some change from his thinking, late last year, when he appeared on our House of Rugby Ireland show. Back then, with England confirmed as Six Nations champs and looking good for the Autumn Nations Cup, the former England winger had six of Eddie Jones side alone in his Lions pack.

Ugo Monye is siding with the Murray-Sexton half-back combination. (Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile)

At the conclusion of the 2021 Six Nations BBC's Rugby Union Weekly put out a poll to get their listeners' starting XV to take on the world champions in South Africa this summer.

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While fan selections will often contain bias towards certain players of countries, they are good barometers of form. The team those listeners selected, for example had six from Wales, who won the title, and only three from fifth-placed England.

Monye's selection mirrored that of the listeners, with his only change being Six Nations Player of the Tournament Hamish Watson coming in at openside for Sale and England back-row Tom Curry. Don't tell Stephen Jones about that one.

UGO MONYE'S LIONS XV

15. Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
14. Anthony Watson (England)
13. George North (Wales)
12. Robbie Henshaw (Ireland)
11. Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales)
10. Johnny Sexton (Ireland)
9. Conor Murray (Ireland)

1. Wyn Jones (Wales)
2. Ken Owens (Wales)
3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
4. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)
5. Maro Itoje (England)
6. Tadhg Beirne (Ireland)
7. Hamish Watson (Scotland)
8. Toby Faletau (Wales)

That team looks pretty strong to us, but it goes to show how quickly matters can change. Back in early March, before Ireland finished with wins over Scotland and England, Monye only had two Irish players [Robbie Henshaw and Jamison Gibson-Park] in his team.

Warren Gatland will name his touring squad on Thursday, May 6, with the first Lions game taking place on June 26 against Japan, at Murrayfield, before the team jet out to South Africa.