The nature of Super Rugby’s schedule has turned the Lions tour opener into a farce. And former Lions coach Sir Clive Woodward has labelled the Force’s attitude a disgrace.
The British and Irish Lions play the Western Force in Perth on Wednesday but Force coach Michael Foley has only picked four regulars in his starting XV because the Force play the Waratahs in a Super Rugby fixture on Sunday.
The Lions, who played a poor Barbarians in Hong Kong, won’t be tested by a Super Rugby outfit fielding seven new caps and few of their regulars.
Lions 2005 coach to New Zealand and former England World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward wrote in the Daily Mail: ‘It is unacceptable and disgraceful to cobble together a weakened, second-string club team to play against some of the best players in the world on one of the great rugby tours.
‘Having lived and worked in Australia for five years, there is no bigger supporter of Australian sport but what on earth is going on?
‘Can you imagine Leicester inviting the All Blacks to Welford Road and putting out a second-string side? It simply would not happen.
‘Treating the Lions with such contempt threatens to undermine their status in the global game.
‘The Lions come to Australia once every 12 years but if this is how they are going to be treated in this country then they should seriously consider whether to return.’
Force coach Foley obviously puts more store in a meaningless Super Rugby match on Sunday. It is ridiculous.
Force – 15 Sam Christie, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Ed Stubbs, 12 Chris Tuatara-Morrison, 11 Corey Brown, 10 Sam Norton-Knight, 9 Brett Sheehan, 8 Richard Brown, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Phoenix Battye, 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Salesi Ma’afu, 2 James Hilterbrand, 1 Salesi Manu.
Subs: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Sione Kolo, 18 Tim Metcher, 19 Ben Matwijow, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Alby Mathewson, 22 Nick Haining, 23 Junior Rasolea.