Saracens elated with their Lions' share

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 06:45
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REACTION: British and Irish Lions fans will hope the 'Saracens Six' can match the achievement of London Welsh's 'Magnificent Seven' by helping the combined side win a Test series in New Zealand.

 

Reigning English and European champions Saracens provided the most players from any one club in the 41-man squad announced Wednesday for the Lions upcoming campaign against the world champion All Blacks.

Previous Lions tourists Owen Farrell and Mako Vunipola were joined by Saracens and England teammates Billy Vunipola, Maro Itoje, George Kruis and Jamie George for the 10-match tour which, features three Tests in June and July. 

"We're honoured to have six of our players included in the squad," said Saracens Director of Rugby Mark McCall.

"Every player included is under the age of 27 which is extremely exciting for Saracens and for England, and I'm extremely confident they'll thrive in the red jersey in New Zealand," the former Ireland international added.

"Four of the players have come through the age-group system at the club and both Vunipola brothers arrived at Saracens under the age of 21, so their selection is the culmination of a lot of hard work from the players themselves, our coaching staff and support team."

There was a time when Lions tourists might ease up in the closing weeks of a domestic season.

But that is not an option at London club Saracens, who are bidding to retain both their domestic and continental titles.

Sarries face Irish province Munster in a European Champions Cup semifinal in Dublin on Saturday and McCall said: "All six players still have a huge role to play in some massive games for Saracens in the upcoming weeks."

Meanwhile lock cum flank Itoje, the youngest player in the Lions squad at the age of 22, said: "No matter when you start playing rugby or how long you’ve played rugby, you want to be part of the British and Irish Lions.

"I'm also extremely happy that a number of other guys from the club have also made it and that we’ll be out there together as a strong force. 

"These are guys I've played a lot of rugby with, grown up with, at the beginning of career watching them play and train, and now I'm fortunate to play and train alongside these world-class players."

When the Lions achieved their lone Test series win in New Zealand in 1971, London Welsh supplied seven players.

'The Magnificent Seven' as they became known, included Lions captain John Dawes and all-time great backs JPR Williams and Gerald Davies.

Together with club colleagues Mervyn Davies, an outstanding No.8 and later a successful Wales captain, John Taylor, Geoff Evans and Mike Roberts they helped the Lions record a 2-1 win in a four-Test series with one draw.

"In 1971, the only time the Lions have ever won in New Zealand, London Welsh had seven players in the squad, so for Saracens to have six players and to be the club the most represented in the 2017 squad is a huge honour, said Saracens Chairman Nigel Wray.

Meanwhile, the 2017 Lions' backroom staff includes Saracens' head of performance Phil Morrow, with former player and coach Andy Farrell and former skipper Steve Borthwick both assistant to head coach Warren Gatland.

While London Welsh were one of England's top clubs when the Rugby Union was still an amateur sport, the professional game has not been kind to the Exiles.

In January, financial problems saw London Welsh expelled from the professional game and removed mid-season from the second-tier Championship by England's governing Rugby Football Union.

Agence France-Presse

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Fri, 15 December 2017
Ulster v Harlequins 19h45 Kingspan Stadium
Sat, 16 December 2017
Montpellier v Glasgow Warriors 13h00 Altrad Stadium
Treviso v Scarlets 13h00 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Leinster v Exeter Chiefs 15h15 Aviva Stadium
Racing Metro v Castres 15h15 Stade Yves-du-Manoir
Bath v Toulon 17h30 Recreation Ground
Sun, 17 December 2017
Wasps v La Rochelle 13h00 Ricoh Arena
Clermont Auvergne v Saracens 15h15 Stade Marcel-Michelin
Ospreys v Northampton Saints 15h15 Liberty Stadium
Leicester Tigers v Munster 17h30 Welford Road
RESULT SCORE
Mon, 11 December 2017
Saracens v Clermont Auvergne 14 | 46
Sun, 10 December 2017
Exeter Chiefs v Leinster 8 | 18
Harlequins v Ulster 5 | 17
La Rochelle v Wasps 49 | 29
Sat, 09 December 2017
Munster v Leicester Tigers 33 | 10
Castres v Racing Metro 16 | 13
Northampton Saints v Ospreys 32 | 43
Toulon v Bath 24 | 20
Scarlets v Treviso 33 | 28
Fri, 08 December 2017
Glasgow Warriors v Montpellier 22 | 29
Sun, 03 December 2017
Harlequins v Saracens 20 | 19
Sat, 02 December 2017
Cheetahs v Scarlets 28 | 21
Munster v Ospreys 36 | 10
Wasps v Leicester Tigers 32 | 25
Treviso v Leinster 10 | 36
BRITISH & IRISH LIONS
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
B&I Lions 0 0 0 0 0
Australia 0 0 0 0 0
Barbarians 0 0 0 0 0
Force 0 0 0 0 0
Reds 0 0 0 0 0
Waratahs 0 0 0 0 0
Brumbies 0 0 0 0 0
Rebels 0 0 0 0 0
NSW-Queensland 0 0 0 0 0
Blues 0 0 0 0 0
Highlanders 0 0 0 0 0
Hurricanes 0 0 0 0 0
Crusaders 0 0 0 0 0
Chiefs 0 0 0 0 0
NZ Barbarians 0 0 0 0 0
Maori All Blacks 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0