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British & Irish Lions

Lions name team to play Japan

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Photo by Dan Sheridan - Pool/Getty Images

British & Irish Lions head coach, Warren Gatland, has named his side to take on Japan at BT Murrayfield Stadium on Saturday 26 June (kick off 3pm) for The Vodafone Lions 1888 Cup.

16,500 supporters will be welcomed to Scottish Rugby’s national stadium in Edinburgh for the first-ever clash between the Lions and the Brave Blossoms.

The game against the 2019 Rugby World Cup quarter-finalists will be shown live and exclusively on Channel 4 and raises the curtain for the Lions’ eagerly awaited Tour to South Africa, which culminates in a three Test series against Rugby World Cup champions, the Springboks.

“We’re anticipating a tough game against Japan – a side that like to play at a high-tempo and shift the ball,” said Gatland.

“We saw throughout the World Cup they have attacking threats across the park and a solid defence and set piece.

“I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made during our training camp in Jersey so far, but we’ve a long way to go. You can see that the squad are starting to get to grips with our game strategies, but, as always with a Lions Tour, this takes time to bed in.

“We’re in a good place though and I can tell there’s a lot more to come from this group.

“Everyone in the squad will get a start before the start of the Test Series, so each member of the squad can put their hand up for Test selection.

“We are absolutely delighted to be playing in front of sixteen thousand supporters in Edinburgh. I’m sure the crowd will give the players an enormous lift before we depart for South Africa on Sunday.”

The Lions’ eight-game Tour to South Africa kicks off on Saturday 3 July when they play the Emirates Lions at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg. Three weeks later, Cape Town Stadium will host the opening Test match of the 2021 Castle Lager Lions Series – the first Lions Test in the Mother City since 1997. The British and Irish tourists then return to Gauteng and play the second and third Tests at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday 31 July and 8 August respectively.

Starting XV

15. Liam Williams (Scarlets, Wales) #833
14. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby, Wales)
13. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #824
12. Bundee Aki (Connacht Rugby, Ireland)
11. Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland)
10. Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales) #821
9. Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland) #790
1. Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland)
2. Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales) #829
3. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland)
4. Iain Henderson (Ulster Rugby, Ireland) #808
5. Alun Wyn Jones – Captain (Ospreys, Wales) #761
6. Tadhg Beirne (Munster Rugby, Ireland)
7. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland)
8. Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland)

Replacements:

  1. Jamie George (Saracens, England) #819
  2. Wyn Jones (Scarlets, Wales)
  3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) #818
  4. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England) #826
  5. Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby, Wales) #779
  6. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland)
  7. Owen Farrell (Saracens, England) #780
  8. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England) #816


British & Irish Lions

Lions and Scotland great Doddie Weir dies aged 52

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Scotland and British & Irish Lions great Doddie Weir has passed away at the age of 52 after a long battle with motor neurone disease.

One of his country’s all-time greats, Weir won 61 caps for Scotland and was selected for the 1997 Lions Tour of South Africa.

His Tour was cut short by a serious knee injury suffered while playing against Mpumalanga Province, but despite returning home prior to the Tests – with the Lions beating the world champions 2-1, Weir singled out that experience as one of the best of his career.

Weir was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2017, with his charity, the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation having raised more than £5 million pounds since being launched.

A statement from the Weir family said: “It is with great sadness that we announced the death of our beloved husband and father, Doddie.

“Doddie was an inspirational force of nature. His unending energy and drive, his strength of character powered him through his rugby and business careers and, we believe, enabled him to fight the effects of MND for so many years.

“Doddie put the same energy and even more love and fun into our lives together, he was a true family man. Whether working together on the farm, on holiday, or celebrating occasions with wider family and friends, Doddie was always in the thick of it. We are lucky to have shared our lives with him and we cherish all those memories: his love and warmth, his support and advice, his quick wit and his terrible jokes. It is difficult to put into words how much we will miss him.

“MND took so much from Doddie, but never his spirit and determination. He battled MND so bravely and whilst his own battle may be over, his fight continues through his foundation, until a cure is found for all those with this devastating disease.”

Weir made his Scotland debut in 1990 and was a mainstay of the side for much of the decade, making his final appearance in the 2000 Six Nations against France.

Instantly recognisable for his galloping gait, the great Bill McLaren once described Weir as “on the charge like a mad giraffe.”

As incredible as Weir’s exploits were during his career, what he has done since has arguably been even greater.

After being diagnosed with MND, Weir set up a foundation to raise funds for research into a cure for MND and to provide grants to people living with the condition.

And in the five years since, it has raised more than £5 million for that objective, and will continue to fund research into a cure.

All those at the British & Irish Lions offer their condolences to the Weir family.

Source – British & Irish Lions


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British & Irish Lions

Tributes pour in for Lion and rugby legend Eddie Butler

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Tributes have been paid to British & Irish Lion #601 and iconic broadcaster Eddie Butler, who has died aged 65.

Butler was called up to The British and Irish Lions squad that toured New Zealand in 1983, replacing Jeff Squire, and made one appearance.

The No.8 played 16 times for Wales and captained them on six occasions, scoring two tries.

He was a legend at his club side Pontypool, captaining the team between 1982 and 1985, and, after retiring from rugby, he carved out a remarkable career in journalism, broadcasting and commentary.

Tributes have already started pouring in to honour a great of the game, with World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont calling Butler one of the finest commentators of his time.

After beginning his journalism career with the Sunday Correspondent in 1988, Butler began writing for The Observer in 1991.

He joined BBC Wales in 1990, starting his commentary career alongside Bill McLaren before becoming the lead BBC rugby commentator.

His partnership with former Lions and England hooker Brian Moore received widespread acclaim and his commentary partner tweeted that he admired Butler as a broadcaster and as a man.

Butler’s montage-accompanying prose was the backdrop not only to sporting events but to some of the biggest news stories of the last two decades.

The final one he made marked the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

He commentated on Olympic sports, as well as the Invictus Games, and also put his voice to montages for the BBC’s NFL highlights programmes. He also published three novels and two non-fiction books.

Two-time Tour captain and fellow broadcaster Sam Warburton said: “Stunned at the news and passing of Eddie Butler. Thoughts with his family.

“What an amazing contribution to rugby and broadcasting. A privilege to have played and co-commentated with his voice.”

Scott Quinnell, who toured with the Lions in 1997 and 2001, said: “Absolutely devastated to hear the news. Eddie was such a wonderful man. Always loved our chats especially over a pint. Love and thoughts to Sue and the family.”

Source – British & Irish Lions


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British & Irish Lions

Tommy Bowe to become trustee of The British & Irish Lions Charitable Trust

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Tommy Bowe has been announced as a trustee of The British & Irish Lions Charitable Trust.

He will join Gavin Hastings, Richard Hill and Sam Warburton as trustees. The Trust exists to connect with, nurture and support Lions players in need whilst also supporting a host of charities annually.

Tommy is #Lion752, having represented the Lions on the 2009 and 2013 tours to South Africa and Australia respectively. He enjoyed a lengthy and hugely successful international career with Ireland and played his club rugby with Ulster and Ospreys. He was nominated as a trustee by the IRFU to succeed Fergus Slattery.

“It’s such a privilege to be made a trustee of The British & Irish Lions Trust and I feel incredibly honoured,” said Bowe. “The Trust does so much good work and I really look forward to getting involved, helping Lions in need and working on various charity initiatives.”

British & Irish Lions MD Ben Calveley said: “People know the Lions best for what we do on the field, but what we do off the field is of equal importance.

“The British & Irish Lions Charitable Trust does so much important work for those in need. Tommy is a wonderful addition to the Trust and as a trustee I have no doubt that he will help to drive forward this good work.”

Gavin Hastings, Chairman of The British & Irish Lions Charitable Trust said: “One of the key aims of The British & Irish Lions is to have an impact off the pitch, and we are really proud and pleased to continue supporting our Lions post retirement through The British & Irish Lions Charitable Trust.

“Tommy is a great addition as a trustee – he will bring a wealth of experience and enthusiasm and I know I speak for my fellow trustees when I say that we’re really looking forward to working with him. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Fergus Slattery who has been great to work with on the Trust and I wish him all the best for the future.”

Source – British & Irish Lions


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