I love International rugby. Whether it is the six nations coming round and the chance to get patriotic or seeing the exotic players at the World Cup. Each nation seems to have a different style and different culture related to rugby. But every few years a bizarre glorified showcase happens which removes the country elimant, creates mass media hysteria and a meaningless tournament where the basic concept of what a team is, is lost.
The British and Irish Lions is a combination team from the home countries of the United Kingdom and Ireland. Individually these teams have great histories with success in heir own right. Here the best players are puled together for an American style all-star team to go on a long winded tournament on the other side f the world.
This year the Lions head to New Zealand and the greatest team on the planet. As well as some test between the Lions and New Zealand they also play some local clubs. This is yet another chancer at humiliation as they inevitably lose as happened yesterday against the Auckland Blues.
The history goes back to 1888 and was a commercial venture of an amalgamation of players. The southern hemisphere was very much out of reach so perhaps it made sense back then to make a big deal and attract all 4 countries to take part.
One of my issues is the lack of interest of empathy I have for the time. It is a no win situation I believe. If they do win there is no emotional connection or impression, you can watch and appreciate a good game but I have never found myself cheering the Lions on when they are beat a southern hemisphere country. On the other side of the coin any loss results in embarrassment as they are expected to beat a single nation with the power of four. So losing to New Zealand club teams only makes me shake my head more.
The British and Irish Lions is a callback to the bygone era and with where the sport should be growing with domestic and European league rugby, and the World Cup which are becoming more successful and popular year on year. The Lions tour only gets in the way of all that and prevents full focus on the more important tournaments. With the media putting so much emphasis on representing the Lions players will be constantly distracting to the players who could spend this summer preparing for their club and also viewing their international caps as the pinnacle.
So while all eyes are on New Zealand and we have no problem in watching the rugby and enjoying ourselves at the bookies, the whole set up is holding back rugby and is an example of tradition taking over common sense.