Scotland Internationals will be looking to impress in the upcoming Six Nations tournament in order to be considered for British and Irish Lions selection for the Tour of Australia in June 2013.
In the wake of the main coaching position appointments, which saw Warren Gatland given the reigns as Head Coach, speculation surrounding future selection ensues. Gatland was joined by Andy Farrell, Graham Rowntree and Rob Howley as his assistants.
Nostalgic reflection upon past Scottish influence on Lions tours always flags up the great tour to Australia in 1989, where unbelievably compared to the present day state of Scottish rugby; all key figures in the team were Scottish. Led by Captain Finlay Calder, Head Coach Ian McGeechan and top scorer Gavin Hastings, the Lions triumphed in a 2-1 series victory. In subsequent tours in 1993 and 1997, the structure was much the same with a very large Scottish influence.
In recent years, starting with the 2001 tour, the amount of Scottish players and coaches has rapidly fallen. An obvious reflection of how Scotland’s on pitch success has been scarce at best. Since 2001 Scotland has never had more than four players selected for the squad. In 2009, initially there was only two in the form of Euan Murray and Nathan Hines. The additional two players were only added because of injury to other players.
When considering the potential Scotland candidates for the latest tour, Scottish hopes are slim at best. Many analysts and pundits, such as Jeremy Guscott ,only put second row Ritchie Gray as a Scot who should be selected. Anybody else has an outside chance at best.
However, SRU is optimistic:
“Scottish players who should be in contention for the Lions are winger Tim Visser, Lock Ritchie Gray and former Lion Euan Murray”. He went on to mention that players with an outside chance are Davie Denton, Mike Blair and Ryan Grant.
Regardless of the selection that does take place after the Six Nations in May, Scotland will undoubtedly continue to be the Home Nation with the lowest number of Lion selections. A painful truth for Scotland rugby fans which has been endured since 1997.
After dismal results and performances in the Autumn tests, the future looks bleak for the kind of impact Scottish players can be expected to make on the Lion’s squad. However, Warren Gatland comments that: “his coaching staff have planned selection meetings for pre, mid and post Six Nations.”
This emphasises the importance for Scottish hopefuls to impress during the Six Nations in order to get selectors interested and boost the morale of Scottish fans everywhere.