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Best Lions XV 1989 to date (yes, there are Sotsmen in it. And a pacific islander.)

FrankfurtRugbyWatcher4

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This is based on the talent available at the time, regardless who actually made it on a tour or not (see Ferris or Armstrong.)
Each player is valued by his abilities at the maximum of his powers. Not about lifetime achievement or longevity.
The balance of the team mattered (otherwise also Scott Gibbs would be in. Somewhere)

1 Andrew Sheridan
2 Keith Wood
3 Adam Jones
4 Wade Dooley
5 Paul O'Connell (captain)
6 Lawrence Dallaglio
7 Stephen Ferris
8 Ben Clarke

9 Rob Howley
10 Jonny Wilkinson
11 George North
12 Brian O'Driscoll
13 Manu Tuilagi
14 Shane Williams
15 Jason Robinson

16 Steve Thompson
17 Nick Popplewell
18 Alex Corbosiero
19 Martyn Johnson
20 Mike Teague
21 Gary Armstrong
22 Owen Farrell
23 Stuart Hogg

I might go for a different team if I picked up a white piece of paper tomorrow. By then Tadhg Furlong might have dispelled my doubts. It's so much fun.

If you go “what, no Jeremy Guscott?” George North on 14 not 11? Or a lighter pack with Alun Wyn Jones and Majo Itoje, please state if this selection of yours is based on different assumptions than stated above.
 

FrankfurtRugbyWatcher4

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This is based on the talent available at the time, regardless who actually made it on a tour or not (see Ferris or Armstrong.)
Each player is valued by his abilities at the maximum of his powers. Not about lifetime achievement or longevity.
The balance of the team mattered (otherwise also Scott Gibbs would be in. Somewhere)

1 Andrew Sheridan
2 Keith Wood
3 Adam Jones
4 Wade Dooley
5 Paul O'Connell (captain)
6 Lawrence Dallaglio
7 Stephen Ferris
8 Ben Clarke

9 Rob Howley
10 Jonny Wilkinson
11 George North
12 Brian O'Driscoll
13 Manu Tuilagi
14 Shane Williams
15 Jason Robinson

16 Steve Thompson
17 Nick Popplewell
18 Alex Corbosiero
19 Martyn Johnson
20 Mike Teague
21 Gary Armstrong
22 Owen Farrell
23 Stuart Hogg

I might go for a different team if I picked up a white piece of paper tomorrow. By then Tadhg Furlong might have dispelled my doubts. It's so much fun.

If you go “what, no Jeremy Guscott?” George North on 14 not 11? Or a lighter pack with Alun Wyn Jones and Majo Itoje, please state if this selection of yours is based on different assumptions than stated above.

The second team would look like this


1 Nick Popplewell
2 Steve Thompson
3 Alex Corbosiero
4 Martyn Johnson
5 Alun Wyn Jones
6 Richard Hill
7 Sam Warburton
8 Mike Teague
9 Gary Armstrong
10 Jonathan Sexton
11 Ben Cohen
12 Scott Gibbs
13 Jeremy Guscott
14 Simon Geoghegan
15 Stuart Hogg

Since a Lions tour needs more than 30 players, the following would make up a squad of 40

Kenny Milne
Gethin Jenkins
Tadhg Furlong
Paul Ackford
Majo Itoje
Jamie Heaslip
Rhys Webb
Owen Farrell
Jonny May
Rob Kearney
 

The_Blindside

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I was thinking about this. But my Best of Lions team is only from 1997-2017 (ones I watched) based on performance in the tests and also how they would fit into a fantasy team and work:

1. Tom Smith
2. Keith Wood
3. Adam Jones
4. Johnson (Captain)
5. POC
6. Richard Hill
7. Warburton
8. Dallaglio

9. Dawson
10. Sexton (tough one over Wilko and Townsend.)

11. North
12. Gibbs
13. Guscott (such a hard one over BOD but for that drop goal in the 2nd test v the Boks).
14. Robinson.
15. Halfpenny (just edged Jenkins and Kearney).
 

Tallshort

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Going from 89 as well. Picking the players I have the best memories of in their positions so absolutely no science involved:

1. Tom Smith
2. Brian Moore
3. Adam Jones
4. Martin Johnson
5. POC
6. Richard Hill
7. Finley Calder
8. Dean Richards
9. Rob Howley
10. Gregor Townsend
11. Rory Underwood
12. Scott Gibbs
13. BOD
14. John Bentley
15. Gavin Hastings

16. Keith Wood
17. Jason Lenord
18. Paul Wallace.
19. Wade Dooley
20. Mike Teague
21. Matt Dawson (yes **** off)
22. Wilkinson
23. Jerry Guscott

So very bias towards 93/97/01 and probably quite English too but tough. Might do a amateur v Professional team..
 

The_Blindside

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Yeh, unfair to include pre 1997 when it was amateur IMO. The game was really changed when it went Pro and that 1997 tour really was special. Looking forward to 2021.
 

The Oggmonster

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Just watched this decider v Australia in 1989. Absolutely superb. Amazing to see how quickly scrums form and what about Mike Teague nailing the ball boy at 1:43:00 in order to get the match ball. Superb!

 

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Just watched this decider v Australia in 1989. Absolutely superb. Amazing to see how quickly scrums form and what about Mike Teague nailing the ball boy at 1:43:00 in order to get the match ball. Superb!


yeah different game. The scrum was so much better back then and the put ins were straight. And scrums were a much more frequent part of the game and players just got on with it. Not the interminable bloody deliberate time wasting we have now.

Rucking as well where you could rake players on the wrong side out of the way.

Was the game better then than today where the breakdown and winning the gain Line key? I will leave that on here to discuss/debate.
 

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yeah different game. The scrum was so much better back then and the put ins were straight. And scrums were a much more frequent part of the game and players just got on with it. Not the interminable bloody deliberate time wasting we have now.

Rucking as well where you could rake players on the wrong side out of the way.

Was the game better then than today where the breakdown and winning the gain Line key? I will leave that on here to discuss/debate.
I’m supposed to be working, but am so tempted to bite at this.....
 

FrankfurtRugbyWatcher4

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Yeh, unfair to include pre 1997 when it was amateur IMO. The game was really changed when it went Pro and that 1997 tour really was special. Looking forward to 2021.

That is the thing. Different eras mattered.

Mostly for how I looked at it in the case of Deano. Eightmen from some point on were expected to pick up the ball and use the wiggle room provided by the flankers being forced to stay bound at the scrum. By charging with some pace.

A new still beefy type yet but with some speed of the mark became the standard. Different to heavy static guys like Richards. Despite the class of the best such specimen (Phil Davies, Mark Jones, Laurent Rodriguez to name but few.)

More in demand then or concidered to be “modern" when covering that position: Players like Scott Quinnell (Wales,) Jerry Collins, Sione Lauaki (both New Zealand,) Rocky Elsom, Toutai Kefu (booth Australia,) Shalk Burger (South Africa.)
 

FrankfurtRugbyWatcher4

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Going from 89 as well. Picking the players I have the best memories of in their positions so absolutely no science involved:

1. Tom Smith
2. Brian Moore
3. Adam Jones
4. Martin Johnson
5. POC
6. Richard Hill
7. Finley Calder
8. Dean Richards
9. Rob Howley
10. Gregor Townsend
11. Rory Underwood
12. Scott Gibbs
13. BOD
14. John Bentley
15. Gavin Hastings

16. Keith Wood
17. Jason Lenord
18. Paul Wallace.
19. Wade Dooley
20. Mike Teague
21. Matt Dawson (yes **** off)
22. Wilkinson
23. Jerry Guscott

So very bias towards 93/97/01 and probably quite English too but tough. Might do a amateur v Professional team..

Richards, Mark Jones, and Phil Davies were among those I could not fit in. But there was more regret on other positions as well. Like with the Vunipola brothers, Martin Corry, Jonathan Davies (the elder,) Mike Catt, Brian Ashton, Mike Brown, Liam Williams. Always at their (sometimes brief) best.

Some of these names are good evidence of my “wider” assumptions. The rule I followed was not to go for lifetime achievement. And it did not matter to me whether they performed for the Lions themselves. They just had to be eligible. Just be nuff.
 

FrankfurtRugbyWatcher4

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Since the fine people who picked this up are obviously well versed with the Lions history in question: It makes sense to honor this selection by naming one such team against which they measured themselves against.
Yummy.

Tendai Mtwarira
Dr. Uli Schmidt
Flippie van der Merwe
Eben Etzebeth
Bakkies Botha
Schalk Burger
Wahl Barthmann
Pierre Spiess
Joos van der Westhuizen
Joel Stransky
Chester Williams
Danie Gerber
Andre Snyman
Brian Habanna
Percy Montgomery

Bismark Du Plessis
Os DuRandt
Cobus Visagie
Victor Matfield
Andre Venter
Faf de Klerk
Francois “Frans” Stejn
Breyton Paulse

Obviously this was not New Zealand. Again it did not matter to me, what those players achieved in Lions tour games. But that their playing careers coincided with the historical episodes for which these Lions were picked.

I know, being able to choose only 23 names led to some glaring omissions.
 

Tallshort

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Since the fine people who picked this up are obviously well versed with the Lions history in question: It makes sense to honor this selection by naming one such team against which they measured themselves against.
Yummy.

Tendai Mtwarira
Dr. Uli Schmidt
Flippie van der Merwe
Eben Etzebeth
Bakkies Botha
Schalk Burger
Wahl Barthmann
Pierre Spiess
Joos van der Westhuizen
Joel Stransky
Chester Williams
Danie Gerber
Andre Snyman
Brian Habanna
Percy Montgomery

Bismark Du Plessis
Os DuRandt
Cobus Visagie
Victor Matfield
Andre Venter
Faf de Klerk
Francois “Frans” Stejn
Breyton Paulse

Obviously this was not New Zealand. Again it did not matter to me, what those players achieved in Lions tour games. But that their playing careers coincided with the historical episodes for which these Lions were picked.

I know, being able to choose only 23 names led to some glaring omissions.
Something special about the lions in SA
So wish I was going next year
 

The_Blindside

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Agree, I love the times of the matches, which are much more friendly than the ones down under. I read the Lions players also prefer the match times being in the afternoon. They get to bond and socialize after the matches as well, whereas the evening kick offs, they don’t.
 

FrankfurtRugbyWatcher4

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Something special about the lions in SA
So wish I was going next year

WHO KNOWS THE AMAZING FLIPPIE VAN DER MERWE ?

Great South African players, still something cockeyed in the selection: too much choice at loose head, too little at tight head. There is no place for galloping rhinos like Willie Hills or “Ritchie” Bands. On the other side mostly big static men like Guy Kebble or Balie Swart. Perhaps CJ van der Linde …

Problem is that the really good one played for France. Pieter de Villiers. Disruptive in the scrum, yet agile around the park.
 

FrankfurtRugbyWatcher4

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Agree, I love the times of the matches, which are much more friendly than the ones down under. I read the Lions players also prefer the match times being in the afternoon. They get to bond and socialize after the matches as well, whereas the evening kick offs, they don’t.

Also left out are true like greats Krynauw Otto, Duane Vermeulen, Cobus Reinach, Henry Honnibal, Braam Van Staaten, JJ Engelbrecht, Deon Kayser, Pieter Roussow, James Small, Cheslin Kolbe, Brent Russell, Andre Joubert, Gavin Johnson.
 

FrankfurtRugbyWatcher4

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yeah different game. The scrum was so much better back then and the put ins were straight. And scrums were a much more frequent part of the game and players just got on with it. Not the interminable bloody deliberate time wasting we have now.

Rucking as well where you could rake players on the wrong side out of the way.

Was the game better then than today where the breakdown and winning the gain Line key? I will leave that on here to discuss/debate.

One measure is obvious. Since there was not too much “dissent” on the South African team. And since unsurprisingly the epic battle against Australia 1989 was so much appreciated:

1 Cameron Lillicrap
2 Stephen Moore
3 Sekope Kepu
4 John Eales
5 Garrick Morgan
6 Willie Ofahengaue
7 David Pocock
8 Rocky Elsom

9 Nick Farr-Jones
10 Stephen Larkham
11 Lote Tuquiri
12 Brett Papworth
13 Tim Horan
14 David Campese
15 Chris Latham

16 Brendan Cannon
17 Benn Robinson
18 Mark Hartill
19 Warrick Waugh
20 Ilivasi Tabua
21 Will Genia
22 Michael Lynagh
23 Izzy Folau
 

FrankfurtRugbyWatcher4

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One measure is obvious. Since there was not too much “dissent” on the South African team. And since unsurprisingly the epic battle against Australia 1989 was so much appreciated:

1 Cameron Lillicrap
2 Stephen Moore
3 Sekope Kepu
4 John Eales
5 Garrick Morgan
6 Willie Ofahengaue
7 David Pocock
8 Rocky Elsom

9 Nick Farr-Jones
10 Stephen Larkham
11 Lote Tuquiri
12 Brett Papworth
13 Tim Horan
14 David Campese
15 Chris Latham

16 Brendan Cannon
17 Benn Robinson
18 Mark Hartill
19 Warrick Waugh
20 Ilivasi Tabua
21 Will Genia
22 Michael Lynagh
23 Izzy Folau

Most of the players named for the Lions or the two host nation teams assembled here deserve to be in close consideration as the best in their position in those three more decades.

The same applies to the individuals liste in the honorable-mention-category. This group would contain for Australia Polota-Nau, Lawton, Rodriguez, Campbell, Frawley, Cutler, Samo, Finegan, Kefu, Miller, Hooper, Gregan, Foley, Cooper, Giteau, Herberth, Kuridrani, Rathbone, Ashley-Cooper, Tune, Sailor, Burke, O'Connor and Beale.
Also here, I surely forgot one.
 

Saracenswulfpackdef

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Most of the players named for the Lions or the two host nation teams assembled here deserve to be in close consideration as the best in their position in those three more decades.

The same applies to the individuals liste in the honorable-mention-category. This group would contain for Australia Polota-Nau, Lawton, Rodriguez, Campbell, Frawley, Cutler, Samo, Finegan, Kefu, Miller, Hooper, Gregan, Foley, Cooper, Giteau, Herberth, Kuridrani, Rathbone, Ashley-Cooper, Tune, Sailor, Burke, O'Connor and Beale.
Also here, I surely forgot one.

It is just hard to make a disciplined judgement on these things. Some guys play at quite a different level compared to their best for a long time in their career. In extreme cases not corrobating a few absolutely outstanding displays by consistently performing at this level.

The two lock forwards picked for Australia are a case in point.
Morgan was outstanding on one European tour. Then his fitness deteriorated as he gained weight. So his carrying was not seen any more.
For Waugh this could not even be assessed properly. He shone in the limelight in one saison. But was never picked any more.
 

Blachernaecastle

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yeah different game. The scrum was so much better back then and the put ins were straight. And scrums were a much more frequent part of the game and players just got on with it. Not the interminable bloody deliberate time wasting we have now.

Rucking as well where you could rake players on the wrong side out of the way.

Was the game better then than today where the breakdown and winning the gain Line key? I will leave that on here to discuss/debate.

That was a good point. Since the 70ties the lead changed between defence and attack. With attackers trying to find space and defenders filling it. Until the advent of the Blitz or umbrella defense it was a lot about handling the drift.

Fitness improved on a broad level together with more liberal replacement rules.
So collisions and recycling became more important. With different types of playes required. Stuff like jackling.

I think it is hard to compare, each episode had their thrills. And none exclusively had exiting games.
 
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