Lions In Syon The Mane Event


In the space of two days this week we have witnessed the best and worst kept secrets of 2017 thus far.

On Tuesday Teresa May announced a general election, to everyone’s surprise, whilst on Wednesday morning Sam Warburton was officially revealed as captain of the 2017 British & Irish lions, hours after the head of world rugby had congratulated him, on Twitter on, his appointment, and various photos were posted showing Sam with the Lions management at the Syon Park hotel in his full Lions kit.

Despite this major leak, there was still a huge sense of anticipation on a sunny spring morning at the Syon Park Hilton in south-west London, as Warren Gatland  unveiled the 41 man squad for the 2017 British & Irish Lions Tour to New Zealand.


A huge media presence gathered to watch the announcement made by tour manager John Spencer, who revealed one by one the names of the 16 English, 12 Welsh, 11 Irish and two Scots that will carry the hopes and dreams of thousands of fans in the land of the long white cloud this summer.


The squad consists of 22 forwards and 19 backs, with Maro Itoje the youngest player at the age of 22.

On his choice of Warburton as captain Gatland had this to say:

“Sam is a great player, an outstanding leader and a winning Lions captain”.

“We believe that Sam’s experience and leadership qualities make him an obvious choice as captain. He has earned the respect of his peers and coaches through his resilience, tenacity and hard work.”


On the eve of the announcement Warburton attended a private dinner with all the living Lions captains in the Hilton Syon Park.

 
The modest and delightful young man had this to say  ”

“Being in the same room as so many Lions legends was an amazing experience. I feel humbled and extremely proud to be given the opportunity to captain the Lions for a second Tour and look forward to playing the world champions on their own turf with the best players of the UK and Ireland at my side.”

Sam is such a humble character he may not realise he is actually a Lions legend himself.


Having spoken to Warren, Graham Rowntree and Rob Howley it is evident that the selection of the tour party was a difficult and demanding process and they all felt the weight of responsibility on their shoulders, people may disagree with some of their choices,  but it would be very difficult to question the integrity of the process.

So there we have it, after months of speculation the Lions are raring, or should that be roaring to go.

The Tour Party

Backs

Dan Biggar – Ospreys, Wales

Elliot Daly – Wasps, England

Jonathan Davies – Scarlets, Wales, Lions #778

Owen Farrell – Saracens, England, Lions #780

Leigh Halfpenny – Toulon, Wales, Lions #775

Robbie Henshaw – Leinster Rugby, Ireland

Stuart Hogg – Glasgow Warriors, Scotland, Lions #783

Jonathan Joseph – Bath Rugby, England

Conor Murray – Munster Rugby, Ireland, Lions #790

George North – Northampton Saints, Wales, Lions #792

Jack Nowell – Exeter Chiefs, England

Jared Payne – Ulster Rugby, Ireland

Jonathan Sexton – Leinster Rugby, Ireland, Lions #791

Tommy Seymour – Glasgow Warriors, Scotland

Ben Te’o – Worcester Warriors, England

Anthony Watson – Bath Rugby, England

Rhys Webb – Ospreys, Wales

Liam Williams – Scarlets, Wales

Ben Youngs – Leicester Tigers, England, Lions #799

 

Forwards

Rory Best – Ulster Rugby, Ireland, Lions #793

Dan Cole – Leicester Tigers, England, Lions #794

Taulupe Faletau – Bath Rugby, Wales, Lions #779

Tadhg Furlong – Leinster Rugby, Ireland

Jamie George – Saracens, England

Iain Henderson – Ulster Rugby, Ireland

Maro Itoje – Saracens, England

Alun Wyn Jones – Ospreys, Wales, Lions #761

George Kruis – Saracens, England

Courtney Lawes – Northampton Saints, England

Joe Marler – Harlequins, England

Jack McGrath – Leinster Rugby, Ireland

Ross Moriarty – Gloucester Rugby, Wales

Sean O’Brien – Leinster Rugby, Ireland, Lions #796

Peter O’Mahony – Munster Rugby, Ireland

Ken Owens – Scarlets, Wales

Kyle Sinckler – Harlequins, England

CJ Stander – Munster Rugby, Ireland

Justin Tipuric – Ospreys, Wales, Lions #786

Mako Vunipola – Saracens, England, Lions #787

Billy Vunipola – Saracens, England

Sam Warburton (Captain) – Cardiff Blues, Wales, Lions #800

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