Lions traditionally symbolise power, strength, and protection. The Japanese symbol of a lion is often associated with places of worship, where you may find a pair of lion statues guarding the entrances to shrines or temples. These are often referred to as ‘lion dogs’, and are believed to ward off evil spirits.
On Saturday at Murrayfield East met West in Lion parlance, as Japan faced the British and Irish breed, it may not have been a roaring success, but the boys from the land of the rising scrum once again gladdened our hearts with their wonderful brand of rugby.
As the British and Irish variety head to South Africa the contrast in opposition they face in the Republic could not be more stark, but the sheer joy of the seeing the Blue Brave Blossoms and the Scarlet British & Irish Lions running out in the Edinburgh dreich was worth every lateral flow test I had to gag my way through last week.
The Lions fans created a sea of red, or at least a river, but sadly it was for the last time on this tour, what a loss they will be to the game, the team and the South African economy.
One of the biggest fears with warm up games of this nature is potential injury, and our fears were realised as soon as the 7th minute, when Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones left the field with his arm hanging loosely by his side , in our heart of hearts we knew this big game hunter’s tour was over, and so it proved to be.
Minutes later Justin Tipuric became another tour missing shoulder dislocating casualty, and as the Edinburgh skies brightened, the celebration mood in the stands dampened.
Josh Adams scored the Lions opening try after 11 minutes followed by Van Der Merwe on 20 minutes before Robbie Henshaw’s 24th minute try. Biggar converted all three to give the Lions a 21-0 lead at half time.
The Lions only try in second half came in the 49th minute when Tadgh Beirne touchdown, the faultless Biggar once again added the conversion.
With the Lions leading 28-0 a 61st minute try from Himeno, converted by Tamura, who also added a penalty seven minutes later, put Japan on the scoreboard, and proved to be the final score of the game.
A 28-10 victory witnessed by 16,500 fans after we have all gone through during the last 15 months is something we should treasure, it is such a shame that it was marred by the injuries to Jones and Tipuric.
In the wild a Lions roar can be heard from 5 miles away, the groans that emanated from Edinburgh last night when the leader of the pack went down extended much much further.