Forget the here and now and transport yourself into the coronavirus-free world of summer 2021 and therefore the month of July which will bring numerous extraordinary occasions, British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa among them. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.

British & Irish Lions: Sir Ian McGeechan picks his best XV for 2021
British & Irish Lions: Sir Ian McGeechan picks his best XV for 2021

McGeechan was a player in South Africa on the victorious Lions tour of 1974, one among the best of all. He was coach of the victorious Lions tour in South Africa in 1997, another expedition that ranks within the highest echelon of rugby adventures. He was coach again in South Africa in 2009, when his squad played some magnificent stuff but went down 2-1 to the planet champions.

In the last 46 years, the Lions have toured South Africa fourfold and McGeechan was heavily involved in three of them. You couldn’t hope for a better travel-mate.

“South Africa is that the most original of Lions tours,” he says. “The crowds are intimidating, there’s the Afrikaner on the highveld, there’s the relentless physicality. Martin Johnson always said that players can only mention being during a physical game after they’d played the Springboks in their backyard. It’s just different there,” he said.

You need Test-Match Animals

McGeechan will pick his fantasy Lions team shortly, but first some context about what he would be trying to find. The odds are that the coach Warren Gatland is going to be checking out precisely an equivalent characteristic. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.

“You don’t beat the Springboks physically, but you manage them physically so you’ll win elsewhere. We did that in 1974 and, in 1997, we moved their powerful forwards round the pitch and played far away from them. In 2009, we didn’t win the series but the South Africans said they couldn’t read the rugby we were playing sometimes.

British & Irish Lions: Sir Ian McGeechan picks his best XV for 2021
British & Irish Lions: Sir Ian McGeechan picks his best XV for 2021

“Technically and tactically the sport moves on, but the principle remains an equivalent – the more decision-makers you’ve got within the team the higher. This is why I used the phrase ‘Test-Match Animal’ – you are looking for a player who has another level he can attend mentally and technically struggling.

“Stopping South Africa’s momentum was the key in 1974 and it’s still the key to the present day. Force your opponent to play a game they didn’t anticipate playing, a game they didn’t see in their heads. You’re looking for guys who have the confidence and ability to make things happen. Pre-programmed players can’t do that. You need special players.”

McGeechan says that when he drew up his long list of players for the 2021 tour, he ended up with 51. He also says that thousands of different people might engage during a similar exercise and there would be a thousand different versions. That’s the beauty of the game.

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