The 2017 British and Irish Lions Tour of New Zealand
June 6, 2017 (No Comments) by Evan Coughlan

In the 129 year history of the British & Irish Lions, the Lions have travelled to New Zealand 13 times. In all previous visits to the Land of the Long White Cloud, the British & Irish Lions have only managed to win one test series against the mighty All Blacks, back in 1971. This statistic probably won’t fill the Lions faithful with a whole pile of confidence as their team departs for a six-week long adventure to New Zealand. But despite this stat, there does seem to be a low key sense of optimism surrounding this Lions Tour, as they try to unseat the back to back World Champions in their own back yard.

So, can the 41 players selected by head coach, Warren Gatland, inflict the first defeat on home soil for the New Zealanders since 2009? Well, we here at The Sharpe are here to give you the rundown on what to expect from the latest Lions tour on the Kiwis home turf.

Schedule of Matches

The Lions will take part in ten matches on New Zealand soil, with five of these matches coming against Super Rugby teams such as the Blues, Crusaders and the Chiefs. In these matches you can expect to see the local teams go full tilt against the Lions as they try to soften them up before the test matches against New Zealand.

Schedule of Matches

The Lions have already faced off against the New Zealand Barbarians, where they came from behind to record a narrow 7-13 victory. The British & Irish Lions won’t come toe to toe with the mighty All Blacks until June 24th in Eden Park, Auckland.

The Lions will then face the All Blacks the following week on July 1st in Wellington, before facing off in what might be the deciding test on July 8th in Eden Park once again.

The Squad

Now, let’s be realistic. Most of the excitement surrounding the Lions Tour doesn’t even take place during the actual tour. No, most of the hype surrounding the Lions has to do with the announcement of who is going to be included in that initial squad; announced two months before the team even leave for the Southern Hemisphere. The Lions squad, as it currently stands, is made up of 16 players from England, 12 from Wales, 11 from Ireland and 3 from Scotland. Of the 11 Irish players currently selected for the Tour, there is very much a case for 5 or 6 of these players to be definite starters come June 24th in Auckland.

warren_gatland

Conor Murray looks to be nailed on as the scrum-half for the tour and if he can replicate some of the form shown for Ireland during the Six Nations, then this could be a career defining tour for the Limerick native. Likewise for the Leinster duo in the front row of Jack McGrath and Tadhg Furlong, who could very well be joined by Ireland captain Rory Best. This would make it a pretty tasty all Irish front row, who’ll look to take down the All Blacks for the second time in less than a year!

Robbie Henshaw may very well announce himself on the world stage like Brian O’Driscoll did all those years ago, in Australia, if given the opportunity to shine in the centre. Finally, will Jonathan Sexton be able to keep a hold of his number 10 jersey with the likes of Dan Biggar and Owen Farrell breathing down his neck? This remains to be seen!

With the intensity of a Lions Tour and another long hard season put in by all players, there is always the chance of injuries taking down one or two players during a tour of this ferocity. With that being said, this opens up the opportunity for replacement players to come to New Zealand and make an impression on the tour. John Hayes did just that in 2009 when he came on in the final test against South Africa and put in an impressive performance. A massive achievement considering the week previously he had been at home in Cappamore, Limerick cutting fields and looking after cattle. So the likes of Simon Zebo, Joe Launchbury and Jamie Roberts better have their phones turned on in case they receive a phone call from Warren Gatland over the next few weeks.

Do the Lions Actually Have a Chance of Winning?

Ever since Ireland defeated New Zealand in Soldier Field, Chicago back in November, the expectation that the Lions could conquer the mighty All Blacks has been rising in the British and Irish press. This sense of optimism is strange to see from the British and Irish press about any tour going to New Zealand. There is every chance that this optimism will be snuffed out by the All Blacks as they seek to once again confirm their place as the greatest rugby team in the history of the game.

all_blacks_2

The New Zealand press, who are well known for trying to get inside the heads of the opposition players, will start up their usual cutting commentary about the absurdity of the Lions brand and why a team of mismatched players will never defeat their beloved All Blacks. Warren Gatland, a New Zealander himself, will be all too aware of what the New Zealand media will be up to in the lead up to the test series and will make sure that the players are not influenced by the media.

The Lions will need to harness some of that energy that Ireland had that faithful day last November against New Zealand. However, it is very important that even if the Lions are to get a result in the first test on June 24th, that they match that intensity the following week in the second test on July 1st. The Kiwis are a powerful force and the Lions can expect a barrage of big hits in the first test. If they were to lose this test, they’re likely to be even more forceful by the time the second test comes around. If the tour is at one apiece heading into the final game on July 7th and the Lions can somehow pull off another victory, then we will be looking at a game and a tour that will be remembered for a long long time to come.

There are two very possible outcomes from this test series, the first being the All Blacks absolutely destroying the Lions and winning the series 3-0, just like they did in 2005. The other being that the Lions could snatch a victory in the first match of the series and pull it out of the bag in the third and deciding test and make history.

all_blacks

With all of New Zealand’s experience and the fact that their players are not used to losing games at home, we here at The Sharpe have gone with a 2-1 series win for the All Blacks, but the Lions will be able to come back home with their heads held high after yet another bruising journey to Middle Earth.

What Time of the Day Is All This On At

New Zealand is currently 11 hours ahead of us here in the Northern hemisphere and with all games kicking off over there at 7:35pm, meaning all games will kick off at 8:35am over here, so not too early then.

Where Can I Watch All of This

As always Sky Sports have exclusive television rights to all 10 Lions matches on this tour, so hard luck if you don’t have Sky. If you’re more of a traditionalist, RTE Radio One will have exclusive commentary on all 10 Lions matches throughout the tour.

So there you have it! Will the British and Irish Lions be able to overcome the might of the All Black and record a 4/1 upset? Only time will tell!

Evan Coughlan
Writes about sport and stuff. When Evan thinks of a witty comment it will appear here.

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The 2017 British and Irish Lions Tour of New Zealand
June 6, 2017 (No Comments) by Evan Coughlan

In the 129 year history of the British & Irish Lions, the Lions have travelled to New Zealand 13 times. In all previous visits to the Land of the Long White Cloud, the British & Irish Lions have only managed to win one test series against the mighty All Blacks, back in 1971. This statistic probably won’t fill the Lions faithful with a whole pile of confidence as their team departs for a six-week long adventure to New Zealand. But despite this stat, there does seem to be a low key sense of optimism surrounding this Lions Tour, as they try to unseat the back to back World Champions in their own back yard.

So, can the 41 players selected by head coach, Warren Gatland, inflict the first defeat on home soil for the New Zealanders since 2009? Well, we here at The Sharpe are here to give you the rundown on what to expect from the latest Lions tour on the Kiwis home turf.

Schedule of Matches

The Lions will take part in ten matches on New Zealand soil, with five of these matches coming against Super Rugby teams such as the Blues, Crusaders and the Chiefs. In these matches you can expect to see the local teams go full tilt against the Lions as they try to soften them up before the test matches against New Zealand.

Schedule of Matches

The Lions have already faced off against the New Zealand Barbarians, where they came from behind to record a narrow 7-13 victory. The British & Irish Lions won’t come toe to toe with the mighty All Blacks until June 24th in Eden Park, Auckland.

The Lions will then face the All Blacks the following week on July 1st in Wellington, before facing off in what might be the deciding test on July 8th in Eden Park once again.

The Squad

Now, let’s be realistic. Most of the excitement surrounding the Lions Tour doesn’t even take place during the actual tour. No, most of the hype surrounding the Lions has to do with the announcement of who is going to be included in that initial squad; announced two months before the team even leave for the Southern Hemisphere. The Lions squad, as it currently stands, is made up of 16 players from England, 12 from Wales, 11 from Ireland and 3 from Scotland. Of the 11 Irish players currently selected for the Tour, there is very much a case for 5 or 6 of these players to be definite starters come June 24th in Auckland.

warren_gatland

Conor Murray looks to be nailed on as the scrum-half for the tour and if he can replicate some of the form shown for Ireland during the Six Nations, then this could be a career defining tour for the Limerick native. Likewise for the Leinster duo in the front row of Jack McGrath and Tadhg Furlong, who could very well be joined by Ireland captain Rory Best. This would make it a pretty tasty all Irish front row, who’ll look to take down the All Blacks for the second time in less than a year!

Robbie Henshaw may very well announce himself on the world stage like Brian O’Driscoll did all those years ago, in Australia, if given the opportunity to shine in the centre. Finally, will Jonathan Sexton be able to keep a hold of his number 10 jersey with the likes of Dan Biggar and Owen Farrell breathing down his neck? This remains to be seen!

With the intensity of a Lions Tour and another long hard season put in by all players, there is always the chance of injuries taking down one or two players during a tour of this ferocity. With that being said, this opens up the opportunity for replacement players to come to New Zealand and make an impression on the tour. John Hayes did just that in 2009 when he came on in the final test against South Africa and put in an impressive performance. A massive achievement considering the week previously he had been at home in Cappamore, Limerick cutting fields and looking after cattle. So the likes of Simon Zebo, Joe Launchbury and Jamie Roberts better have their phones turned on in case they receive a phone call from Warren Gatland over the next few weeks.

Do the Lions Actually Have a Chance of Winning?

Ever since Ireland defeated New Zealand in Soldier Field, Chicago back in November, the expectation that the Lions could conquer the mighty All Blacks has been rising in the British and Irish press. This sense of optimism is strange to see from the British and Irish press about any tour going to New Zealand. There is every chance that this optimism will be snuffed out by the All Blacks as they seek to once again confirm their place as the greatest rugby team in the history of the game.

all_blacks_2

The New Zealand press, who are well known for trying to get inside the heads of the opposition players, will start up their usual cutting commentary about the absurdity of the Lions brand and why a team of mismatched players will never defeat their beloved All Blacks. Warren Gatland, a New Zealander himself, will be all too aware of what the New Zealand media will be up to in the lead up to the test series and will make sure that the players are not influenced by the media.

The Lions will need to harness some of that energy that Ireland had that faithful day last November against New Zealand. However, it is very important that even if the Lions are to get a result in the first test on June 24th, that they match that intensity the following week in the second test on July 1st. The Kiwis are a powerful force and the Lions can expect a barrage of big hits in the first test. If they were to lose this test, they’re likely to be even more forceful by the time the second test comes around. If the tour is at one apiece heading into the final game on July 7th and the Lions can somehow pull off another victory, then we will be looking at a game and a tour that will be remembered for a long long time to come.

There are two very possible outcomes from this test series, the first being the All Blacks absolutely destroying the Lions and winning the series 3-0, just like they did in 2005. The other being that the Lions could snatch a victory in the first match of the series and pull it out of the bag in the third and deciding test and make history.

all_blacks

With all of New Zealand’s experience and the fact that their players are not used to losing games at home, we here at The Sharpe have gone with a 2-1 series win for the All Blacks, but the Lions will be able to come back home with their heads held high after yet another bruising journey to Middle Earth.

What Time of the Day Is All This On At

New Zealand is currently 11 hours ahead of us here in the Northern hemisphere and with all games kicking off over there at 7:35pm, meaning all games will kick off at 8:35am over here, so not too early then.

Where Can I Watch All of This

As always Sky Sports have exclusive television rights to all 10 Lions matches on this tour, so hard luck if you don’t have Sky. If you’re more of a traditionalist, RTE Radio One will have exclusive commentary on all 10 Lions matches throughout the tour.

So there you have it! Will the British and Irish Lions be able to overcome the might of the All Black and record a 4/1 upset? Only time will tell!

Evan Coughlan
Writes about sport and stuff. When Evan thinks of a witty comment it will appear here.

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