Yesterday the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand came to its climax. The stage was set for one of the best rugby games of all time. But after all the build up and press anticipation, it was all a bit disappointing.
The game finished 15-15. A draw. Meaning that the series ends in a draw. It was my belief that they changed Lions series to three games to avoid drawn series, so for the series to end as a draw, it’s a bit of a joke really. Rugby doesn’t want to be accused further of just putting on games for money so maybe if a spontaneous fourth test was put on, it wouldn’t end well.
As per usual Owen Farrell was imperious off the tee. Barrett was slightly less good and didn’t nail all of his kicks, leading to meme’s galore online after the game. Beauden Barrett missed two kicks, if he had scored them then the All Blacks would probably have won the series outright. Jordie Barrett was his usual electric self, knocking back the ball, volleyball style, to Laumape who scored his first test try for the All Blacks. Jordie Barrett himself went over for his first test try in the 36th minute and big brother Beauden missed the conversion.
I wonder if perhaps Jordie should take over kicking duties every now and then from Beauden. Playing for the Hurricanes he was magnificent from the boot, and personally I think he would have nailed the kicks that his brother missed.
The tour as a whole has been a mixed bag of success and failure. At the start of the tour they were underwhelming, cutting it close against the Barbarians and losing to the Blues and things did improve before the first test then got a bit better again following the loss to the All Blacks, drawing with the Hurricanes and beating the All Blacks.
Gatland was branded a clown in New Zealand and at times I have found it difficult to disagree. Gatland made six call ups during the tour and they barely played 10 minutes between them. I was embarrassed for them when they were just sat there on the bench and only there to hold the tackle bags in the week.
Overall, the tour ending as a draw is a success. The Lions won half of their games and are undefeated in two test series. Warren Gatland is one of the most successful Lions coaches ever, but you must question some of his decisions. And, probably most importantly, the tour did much better than Clive Woodward’s effort in 2005, the last time the Lions toured New Zealand.
The draw on Saturday morning made it feel like two years of hype was all for nothing, there was no winner. you could argue that rugby was the winner. But I would have preferred the Lions to win.