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2021 British & Irish Lions Squad

Umaga's Witness

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NZ aside, his recent record against SA and Oz isn’t to bad at all. I think against SA it was something like 6 wins out of last 7 meetings going back to around 2014. Australia less so but Gatland won his last 2 encounters with them so again, not bad.

I watched the majority of this Chief games and while it was no doubt a pretty bad run, honestly, the majority of those games the chiefs were very unlucky. Lots of 1-3 point games that hinged on 1 or 2 key moments. Considering it was his first club job in over 10 years it’s not all that surprising really. Losing is losing though.
The disappointing thing for me was he was this legendary figure expected to achieve a lot and had a pretty good team to do it with, and he promised not to stop the chiefs from playing chiefs rugby, yet he failed badly and the chiefs just weren’t the chiefs anymore. I had hoped for more. The worst part was Anton lienert brown became this crash and bash player all of a sudden and he honestly has still to fully recover. I had previously defended gatland against the people in this forum who claimed he made his teams play boring warrenball. My argument was twofold, 1 he was winning, 2 the warrenball style was simply what he could make work with the resources he had available at wales and there was no reason to suspect he couldn’t be the coach if a more exciting team if he had the right players. Turns out I was wrong. So far at least.
 

Don't Skip Leg Day

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Yeah he’s not a great coach by any means but I think any coach worth their salt has some decent support staff in their camp. Take away Edwards and that Wales record would be a lot worse.
 

Akker Van Der Tigs

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I for one am very worried about the coaching staff

As Gatland said Leinster getting dominated by La Rochelle in the forwards for James Ryan lack of selection
It's a good thing that Leinsters forwards coach isn't going to the.............................
 

Don't Skip Leg Day

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I for one am very worried about the coaching staff

As Gatland said Leinster getting dominated by La Rochelle in the forwards for James Ryan lack of selection
It's a good thing that Leinsters forwards coach isn't going to the.............................
Yeah but when Exeter played sale who are basically South Africa, Exeter beat them up which was all Simmonds and Hill and nothing to do with Gray and therefore Hill and Simmonds will 100% beat SA.

Pure logic based facts there, 60% of the time it works every time.
 

Welsh Exile

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Wales under Gatland:
Australia: 3 - 13
South Africa: 5 - 11
New Zealand: 0 - 12

Also a draw vs Fiji, and a loss vs Samoa (Gatland was with the Lions when Wales lost vs Japan, so it doesn't count)

This is why I said recent form. I think people are more concerned with recent form as well, tbh. Sure, you’re not wrong if you look at all his games as Wales manager since 08.

2018 onwards record has been great against Oz and since 2014 it’s been great against SA. That’s a very good recent record against 2 big SH sides. In my book that is anything but shocking.
 

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The disappointing thing for me was he was this legendary figure expected to achieve a lot and had a pretty good team to do it with, and he promised not to stop the chiefs from playing chiefs rugby, yet he failed badly and the chiefs just weren’t the chiefs anymore. I had hoped for more. The worst part was Anton lienert brown became this crash and bash player all of a sudden and he honestly has still to fully recover. I had previously defended gatland against the people in this forum who claimed he made his teams play boring warrenball. My argument was twofold, 1 he was winning, 2 the warrenball style was simply what he could make work with the resources he had available at wales and there was no reason to suspect he couldn’t be the coach if a more exciting team if he had the right players. Turns out I was wrong. So far at least.

Yeah, a lot of this is fair and while I agree with a lot of what you say I guess where we’d differ is I’d say it’s his first day to day coaching role in over a decade and you might forgive him for falling back on old habits. I’d say you’d have to give him a couple of years to get his stamp on things but, as I say, I don’t really disagree with what you’re saying.
 

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Yeah but when Exeter played sale who are basically South Africa, Exeter beat them up which was all Simmonds and Hill and nothing to do with Gray and therefore Hill and Simmonds will 100% beat SA.

Pure logic based facts there, 60% of the time it works every time.
Excuse you

1620558001474.png


Looking at our pack, though, it was mostly English (2 Saffer starters, one off the bench), so your point might still stand on the return fixture in a few weeks as we'll likely have more South Africans in that lineup
 

Akker Van Der Tigs

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He’s won more silverware than anyone on the plane m8 played 3 tests in all the last 3 series if that doesn’t inspire his fellow team mates they shouldn’t be playing rugby

Itoje = 13 trophies
Alun wyn Jones = 9 trophies
 

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He’s won more silverware than anyone on the plane m8 played 3 tests in all the last 3 series if that doesn’t inspire his fellow team mates they shouldn’t be playing rugby

Willie John McBride is a legend worthy of more respect, doesn't mean he should start for the lions in 2021
#truelionslegend

Id respect him more if he just appreciated that he's no longer as good as james ryan and hung up the boots
 
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Welsh Exile

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According to Bomb, AWJ wasn’t pleased with a few ex pros who, in Bombs words, “Havent achieved a fraction of what Alun Wyn has in the game” writing him off and that’s the reason he’s been one of the standout locks in the 6N.

Bomb has never been wrong before, accept in the same interview when he said Marler is the best scrummager in the world but I think he was just joking then.

They’ve all gone quiet now, again. But hopefully we can garner enough negativity and throw it Alun’s way so he can raise his game once more.
 

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Irish lads who think Tips is brilliant. SOB, Best, BOD, Henshaw and Henderson. Enough pressure from these legends and I reckon we can get Tips on the bench first test.
 

Akker Van Der Tigs

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Here's the thing
England think winning the world cup is the ultimate achievement.
Wales think winning the six nations is the ultimate achievement.
Ireland think winning the champions cup is the ultimate achievement.
Scotland think finishing 4th in the six nations is the ultimate achievement.
 

Welsh Exile

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Here's the thing
England think winning the world cup is the ultimate achievement.
Wales think winning the six nations is the ultimate achievement.
Ireland think winning the champions cup is the ultimate achievement.
Scotland think finishing 4th in the six nations is the ultimate achievement.
We’re a kinda Grand Slam or nothing kind of country. Championships are nice, though.

World Cup finals are overrated. It’s all about losing a semi final and getting a crack at the excellent, much valued, 3rd place playoff.
 

Welsh Exile

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What would people do, and what do people think Gatland will do, for the game against Japan. Start a 23 that you think is your strongest or have a look at players you consider outside of that to see how they go?

I think I’d go strongest 15 but with some outliers on the bench. I think Gatland will back himself to get the Sarecens boys in particular, into some form by the time the first test comes around. Either way looking forward to this game even if it is just a money spinner.
 

ncurd

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What would people do, and what do people think Gatland will do, for the game against Japan. Start a 23 that you think is your strongest or have a look at players you consider outside of that to see how they go?

I think I’d go strongest 15 but with some outliers on the bench. I think Gatland will back himself to get the Sarecens boys in particular, into some form by the time the first test comes around. Either way looking forward to this game even if it is just a money spinner.
It's a frustrating squad it's a game normally you'd want to look at your 50/50 selections. However there aren't many of those lurking around. As such he needs to use the warm up games to get that first team gelling. Problem is it gives SA a very good look at what they are going to face.
 

Welsh Exile

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It's a frustrating squad it's a game normally you'd want to look at your 50/50 selections. However there aren't many of those lurking around. As such he needs to use the warm up games to get that first team gelling. Problem is it gives SA a very good look at what they are going to face.
Yeah I agree. I don’t think it’s any secret how it’s going to go, though. I think Gatland even gave an interview last autumn where he basically said the game plan won’t differ to much to the one he’s successfully used against SA for Wales. I.e, keep the ball in play, move their big pack around, and get into an arm wrestle with them.
 

big ginger 8

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I said when the Lions squad was announced that it was the most Gatland squad that ever did Gatland and since then I've had some thoughts bouncing around in my head about it, nothing super new but wanted to get them out there. Despite many of us being surprised by a number of selections looking back we really shouldn't have been. Gatland seems to have even greater autonomy than he had on any previous tour. As such barring something like a mass covid outbreak the success or failure of this tour is on him to a greater extent than his previous two tours. It's also interesting to see how his previous experiences as far back as the 09 Lions tour where Gatland was forwards coach. This may be controversial but even if I disagree with the way he's gone about things I am impressed by how he's willing to stick to his guns. Something a head coach absolutely has to do. As fans part of the fun is obsessing over team/squad selections and calling coaches idiots for not selecting X. I don't want to stray into 'the coach is always right' territory because I definitely don't believe that and I believe everyone is entitled to an opinion (even if I wish sometimes people wouldn't be so set in their opinion and acknowledge gaps in their knowledge), however, the reality is that as far as I know, no one on this board has ever been a part of a professional set up. Some of us may have played at ok levels or even been coached by people who are involved at the pro level but none of us really have a full idea what goes into getting a match-day 23 out there and playing to one gameplan. The simple truth is that Gatland, Jones, Farrell whoever have access to far more information regarding anything you can think of around rugby than we do. Of course it's a completely different question if they're actually using this information in the best way possible.

We also as fans focus to a huge degree on players and more on player quality. That's not to say we don't have discussions on here about player role and fit, people are absolutely smart enough to do that but we don't have as much focus on it as some coaches do. It appears to me that there is a scale of coaches who select based purely on player overall quality and those who select players to fit their gameplan (like Lam). In fairness there probably isn't any coach who selects purely on quality and it is a broad descriptor but Gatland is definitely someone who prefers to select for his gameplan and it appears this is a lesson he has really taken to heart from previous tours where the temptation from the wider player pool is just to pick the best players. I don't think it's a great lesson to have learnt but it does appear to be one he's taken away from his previous tours.

So what is that gameplan? What is 'Warrenball'? Be a bit weird if after the previous paragraphs I claimed to know exactly what it was but Gatland is one coach who it's easier to pin down in this regard. The broad strokes of his style haven't really changed since he first coached in the 20th century even if there has been some evolution and additions. It's physical rugby, where the front five is constantly working around the corner and so too is most of the backrow even if one of them and sometimes even two are now given a bit more freedom to operate in the wider channels, none of this 2-2-3-1 malarkey for Gatland. He wants these forwards working around the corner getting over the gainline and dragging the defence with them. The idea is when they reach the touchline the defence will be stretched giving the backs loads of space to attack when you come back. Lots of teams have a similar plan in stretching the defence to a touchline, Gatland just has a slightly more antiquated system in how he does it. I don't believe it has to be boring but unless you've a very special group of forwards and creative backs it often does end up being so.

The modern game of rugby is about getting across the gain line, trying to get front-foot ball and playing to space if that is possible. If you can get me when things started to change, I don't know.

He also is a big believer in 'less is more' Gatland is not a Schmidt who plans moves down to the last mm, he doesn't like giving players more than a few points to concentrate on so that they can go out, not second guess themselves and play with intensity. There's a speech Gatland gave before a game on the 09 tour that I unfortunately find on Youtube. It's a good while since I watched it but I still remember the gist of it. It was all about intensity for him and that's what he believes the South African's are all about. If you can match their intensity and physicality he believed the players were fitter and had the skill to go around them the way Geech wanted them to. I think Gatland realises he does need that ability to operate wider and create something without just running over the opposition, look at the way he's spoken about the number 8's in particular, but his first focus is being able to match SA in the collisions.

In defence he wants his team hard up and in the opposition faces hence why his great relationship with Edwards and Farrell. He wants as many men on their feet and maybe only one in to poach. Again nothing revolutionary but when it works it's very effective. He's also big on the setpiece, especially the scrum and maul. I think this is very clear in his lock selections. He also loves a 13man maul whenever he gets the chance. One of the trick moves he loves having in the playbook, which as any Irish fan knows can have varying success.

Watch him change all this now that I've written too many words...

Was going to write some more about what Gatland seems to have taken from previous matches vs SA in particular and go through his Lions test selections by position to show how even more Gatland this post is but it's already gotten too long for the moment and probably isn't that instructive. Congrats anyone who made it through all 1100 or so words. Contact Groundhog for your complementary cookie.
 
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The Oggmonster

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I said when the Lions squad was announced that it was the most Gatland squad that ever did Gatland and since then I've had some thoughts bouncing around in my head about it, nothing super new but wanted to get them out there. Despite many of us being surprised by a number of selections looking back we really shouldn't have been. Gatland seems to have even greater autonomy than he had on any previous tour. As such barring something like a mass covid outbreak the success or failure of this tour is on him to a greater extent than his previous two tours. It's also interesting to see how his previous experiences as far back as the 09 Lions tour where Gatland was forwards coach. This may be controversial but even if I disagree with the way he's gone about things I am impressed by how he's willing to stick to his guns. Something a head coach absolutely has to do. As fans part of the fun is obsessing over team/squad selections and calling coaches idiots for not selecting X. I don't want to stray into 'the coach is always right' territory because I definitely don't believe that and I believe everyone is entitled to an opinion (even if I wish sometimes people wouldn't be so set in their opinion and acknowledge gaps in their knowledge), however, the reality is that as far as I know, no one on this board has ever been a part of a professional set up. Some of us may have played at ok levels or even been coached by people who are involved at the pro level but none of us really have a full idea what goes into getting a match-day 23 out there and playing to one gameplan. The simple truth is that Gatland, Jones, Farrell whoever have access to far more information regarding anything you can think of around rugby than we do. Of course it's a completely different question if they're actually using this information in the best way possible.

We also as fans focus to a huge degree on players and more on player quality. That's not to say we don't have discussions on here about player role and fit, people are absolutely smart enough to do that but we don't have as much focus on it as some coaches do. It appears to me that there is a scale of coaches who select based purely on player overall quality and those who select players to fit their gameplan (like Lam). In fairness there probably isn't any coach who selects purely on quality and it is a broad descriptor but Gatland is definitely someone who prefers to select for his gameplan and it appears this is a lesson he has really taken to heart from previous tours where the temptation from the wider player pool is just to pick the best players. I don't think it's a great lesson to have learnt but it does appear to be one he's taken away from his previous tours.

So what is that gameplan? What is 'Warrenball'? Be a bit weird if after the previous paragraphs I claimed to know exactly what it was but Gatland is one coach who it's easier to pin down in this regard. The broad strokes of his style haven't really changed since he first coached in the 20th century even if there has been some evolution and additions. It's physical rugby, where the front five is constantly working around the corner and so too is most of the backrow even if one of them and sometimes even two are now given a bit more freedom to operate in the wider channels, none of this 2-2-3-1 malarkey for Gatland. He wants these forwards working around the corner getting over the gainline and dragging the defence with them. The idea is when they reach the touchline the defence will be stretched giving the backs loads of space to attack when you come back. Lots of teams have a similar plan in stretching the defence to a touchline, Gatland just has a slightly more antiquated system in how he does it. I don't believe it has to be boring but unless you've a very special group of forwards and creative backs it often does end up being so.



He also is a big believer in 'less is more' Gatland is not a Schmidt who plans moves down to the last mm, he doesn't like giving players more than a few points to concentrate on so that they can go out, not second guess themselves and play with intensity. There's a speech Gatland gave before a game on the 09 tour that I unfortunately find on Youtube. It's a good while since I watched it but I still remember the gist of it. It was all about intensity for him and that's what he believes the South African's are all about. If you can match their intensity and physicality he believed the players were fitter and had the skill to go around them the way Geech wanted them to. I think Gatland realises he does need that ability to operate wider and create something without just running over the opposition, look at the way he's spoken about the number 8's in particular, but his first focus is being able to match SA in the collisions.

In defence he wants his team hard up and in the opposition faces hence why his great relationship with Edwards and Farrell. He wants as many men on their feet and maybe only one in to poach. Again nothing revolutionary but when it works it's very effective. He's also big on the setpiece, especially the scrum and maul. I think this is very clear in his lock selections. He also loves a 13man maul whenever he gets the chance. One of the trick moves he loves having in the playbook, which as any Irish fan knows can have varying success.

Watch him change all this now that I've written too many words...

Was going to write some more about what Gatland seems to have taken from previous matches vs SA in particular and go through his Lions test selections by position to show how even more Gatland this post is but it's already gotten too long for the moment and probably isn't that instructive. Congrats anyone who made it through all 1100 or so words. Contact Groundhog for your complementary cookie.

I'm just relieved you didn't write 'm8'
 

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