Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Rugby Union: Don't Make the Same Mistakes That He Did!

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Rugby Union: Don't Make the Same Mistakes That He Did!

Article excerpt

BRIAN O'DRISCOLL insists the new British and Irish Lions coach must not repeat the key mistakes made by Sir Clive Woodward on the 2005 tour to New Zealand.

The Lions are expected to confirm on Wednesday that Ian McGeechan will take charge of his fourth tour and attempt to repeat the famous 1997 series win over South Africa.

Three years ago Woodward tried to create a blueprint for future Lions success, using 51 players and 26 backroom staff, but came unstuck as the Lions were beaten 3-0 in the Test series.

O'Driscoll, captain in 2005, believes Woodward was wrong to select the Test side on reputation rather than form and he has claimed some of the team did not deserve their places.

Instead of Woodward's giant blueprint, O'Driscoll held up McGeechan's 1997 triumph over the Springboks as the ultimate Lions experience.

"There are definitely huge lessons to be learned," O'Driscoll said in a Lions debate, hosted by 2009 tour sponsors HSBC.

"In 2005 the coaching staff went in with pre-conceived ideas as to what the Test team would be. Not everyone performed the way they should have but some guys still got into the Test team.

"I do believe it is hugely important for this next tour that everyone starts on level pegging. If you play well you get selected next time round, irrespective of reputation or whether you have been on other Lions tours or whether you have been captain of your country. None of that should matter.

"It is the guys who are playing well when you are on tour who should play the Test rugby. You have to give everyone equal opportunity to get into the Test team."

Woodward decided to create two distinct coaching teams for the midweek and Saturday fixtures and by splitting the squad, many players felt from an early stage they had little chance of making the Test team.

Double Lion and England World Cup winner Jason Robinson agreed the special bond in New Zealand was "not as it should have been", largely due to the huge numbers on tour. …

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