Having watched the rather unimpressive Lions v Southern Kings match yesterday, I think it’s probably a good thing I don’t play rugby any more – not only because I kinda sucked at it, but also because I never had a whole lot of restraint. The Kings were a scratch team and decided to interpret their remit of ‘disrupting the Lions and throwing them off their stride’ to include trying to take opposition players out of the tour. Considering they’re the big favourites to win the series, it’s cowardly but far from surprising.
It’s not a new tactic and one that worked well for Tana Umaga last Lions tour where he and Mealamu shamefully got away with trying to break someone’s neck. It ensured the Lions were crushed in all three tests because it took out their best player, playmaker and captain (even though NZ were likely to win the tour easily anyway) and it looks like the Saffas have started early – trying to make sure they sew up the series before the first match has even started. They were throwing themselves in all match, heads and shoulders for the main part because they know they’re unlikely to be cited for that, and to the credit of the Lions, no one threw a punch back that I saw, not even to the dick of a fly half who, having been carded for a dangerous tackle, still jumped into half the tackles he was attempting to try and cause some extra impact and damage.
Not sure I would have been so restrained, but with none of the Springboks on the pitch and Hook & Murray already helped off the field, they realised ignoring it was the only possible response. When the first test appears, they won’t bother targeting the captain because this time it isn’t O’Driscoll (partly just for that reason I’m certain) but someone six foot six and over 17 stones. But they will try and hurt Stephen Jones or cheeky wee Brian just as soon as they can, I’d put money on it.