The British & Irish Lions is a rugby union team selected from players eligible for the national teams of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.
Tom Kiernan, born in Cork in 1939 and comfortably one of that city’s greatest sporting figures, was the Ireland full-back for 14 seasons. Dropped for the Five Nations game against Wales in 1973, when one cap short of the world record, he was soon telling his wife Maree: “That’s it, I’m finished — you’ll be seeing a lot more of me.” The opposite turned out to be true: the game was to dominate his life for another 27 years.
It would be nice to be able to say that the third and deciding Test was better than what we witnessed in the previous two, but that would be stretching exaggeration to the absolute limit.
It has all been building towards this moment. Twelve months or more of squad speculation, weeks of build-up, thousands upon thousands of words, eight matches and one 62-minute video about referees later, we have 80 minutes of rugby to decide a series winner.
I wish the GAA hadn’t scheduled the All-Ireland semi-final between Limerick and Waterford for 5pm on Saturday evening, forcing fans to make a choice between the hurling and the Lions’ series decider.
Raassie Erasmus may have won the battle but Warren Gatland is not giving up on the war, as the Lions coach expressed his disappointment at being “dragged into” World Rugby’s disciplinary hearing against the South African director of rugby.
Fast forward to Wednesday. Warren Gatland, the Lions coach, is on social media presenting his 1hr 2min video of referee Ben O’Keeffe’s decisions in the second Test loss to South Africa. He just wants clarification and consistency, you understand. He is not trying to put pressure on the officials who will take charge of the series decider on Saturday, even though the video does highlight every decision that went against the Lions, including two head-to-head tackles that could have attracted red cards, or yellows at the very least.
How has it come to this? A gathering of some of the world’s greatest players to a place where match officials, on and off the field, are more central to the outcome than those we want to see. Meanwhile, the players, pretty much to a man, revert to caveman tactics in pursuit of a plan driven by overhyped, ego-obsessed coaches.
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