2005 Lions Tour Re-Watching



  • I have been enjoying the coverage of the 2005 Lions Tour on Sky's Pop Up Channel. Kudos to Sky (almost compensates for their failure to show replays of all the recent 6 Nations matches in time slots that would suit New Zealanders so that we can all assess the candidates for Lions selection). If they do throw those 6N matches onto their Lions pop-up channel I might have to pay for some pay-per-view events to show my appreciation. I'd also love to see the matches from the '93 tour, although I imagine Sky haven't got them on archive.

    Anyway, here are some of my thoughts from the 2005 games that they've replayed so far, would be interested to hear other people's thoughts/memories/expectations for this tour and from the last.

    First of all, a digression about the actual coverage:

    Its weird to see test matches recorded in standard definition, and some that aren't even wide-screen, I've become so used to wide-screen HD its hard to believe that we didn't have it back in '05 (can't remember what year everything went HD).

    It's also strange that Sky are replaying some of the matches with no match graphics on - tuning in halfway through a game it is impossible to tell what the state of the match is. It's also frustrating when they interview a player and you're digging through the memory banks to remember a guy's name. I would've thought that even if they haven't kept recordings of the matches with graphics on, or if there are sponsorship issues associated with replaying games with graphics on, that they could have re-added graphics to the games prior to re-screening them?

    Finally it was good to hear John Drake in commentary again - Maybe I just have rose-tinted glasses on, but he seemed very measured compared with today's crowd, and didn't ramble, misidentify players, throw in witticisms, judgements or hyperbole.

    Well, enough digression about the coverage. On the one hand it was great that the NZ provinces played the Lions in 2005 - it's far easier for a crowd to back their side when the team represents their province rather than just an arbitrary franchise in my opinion. And all the provincial unions have such a long history of great clashes with the British and Irish Lions - even the opening titles of the replayed matches gave you that nostalgic feeling of an old-time rugby tour - and showed an appreciation of that history. On the other hand, nobody really expected (nor received) competitive mid-week tour matches due to the gulf in class between provincial sides and a pro-team of NH stars (even back in '05), so having the Super franchises play the midweek matches should give us more competitive games this time around. Whether the matches are all sold out will show us whether there is the same passion for franchise rugby.

    Injuries and cards played an enormous part on the tour. I think we can all expect the same this time around, especially if the midweek clashes are played with greater intensity due to the Super franchise involvement, and with greater penalties for foul-play these days.

    The loss of Dallaglio in the opening stanza of the first tour match against BoP was enormous to Lions hopes. I think his influence should not be underestimated. And so was the much written-about near-death experience that saw O'Driscoll out of the tour. It's hard to quantify exactly how much these incidents throw the best-laid plans into disarray, so I won't dwell on them, except to state that we could expect a similar injury toll to either team this side around, so flexibility in the face of injuries will be of critical importance to both squads.

    Some observations specifically from the 1st test in Christchurch:

    • The conditions were absolutely abysmal. Torrential sleet and hail with frigid temperatures. Not at all conducive to running rugby and yet we still saw some excellent attack and handling by both teams. The break for Sivi's try was as good as you could expect to see in ideal match conditions, let alone in a blizzard.

    • In the first 10 minutes of the match there were enough high tackles, tip tackles, off-the-ball incidents, tackling the player in the air in the lineout and other generally-frowned-upon play that 4 or 5 players would have been in the bin had it been played with today's refereeing emphasis.

    • There were a number of occasions where players passed back into their 22 and then kicked out on the full (glad this isn't allowed any more, and am struggling to remember exactly which year the law change was introduced)

    • Both teams took a lot longer to clear rucks than we see today (also something the law changes have improved)

    • There seemed to be impunity for players protecting the ball at the ruck with squeeze-ball tactics, something I don't imagine players would get away with easily today. Was there a specific law change on this, or was it just a stricter application around rolling away and immediate release?

    • Most significantly, the first test saw the most complete meltdown of a lineout in a match that I can remember. Reportedly the Lions changed their calls prior to the first test in case their code had been cracked. If true, that turned out to be a very bad decision. It was also exacerbated by Paul O'Connell being yellow carded for the worst case of offside I think I've ever seen by a pro rugby player.

    • The scrums weren't dominated by the Lions (which shows that my memory has played tricks on me).

    • The lions were playing Jones at 10 and Wilkinson at 12, but who was in charge? Seemed like a case of trying to cram all your stars into the one side, but I think that affected the balance of the side and the decision-making. Wilkinson had a poor night with the boot for him, and seemed out of position defensively at times.

    • The All Blacks seemed to play with more pace in bad conditions than the Lions. I imagine the gap in speed of execution between NZ players and the British and Irish players may have closed in the intervening 12 years (time will tell).

    • Coming back from 1 nil down in a 3 test series with only a week between matches is such a huge ask, so the pressure on the Lions to win test number 1 (and keep their strategic cards close to their chests in all the matches prior to test 1) cannot be underestimated. A happy camp that doesn't feel the pressure quite so markedly has an enormous advantage. The challenge for both Hansen and Gatland will be to ensure their teams can play cohesively, while allowing their players to express themselves without being too loose, and to manage pressure, expectation, and egos.

    • The Lions scrambling defence in Christchurch was superb, and no one could criticise the players for lack of effort. Individual moments from players showed they clearly had the skills even if the team's cohesion was lacking a bit.

    • The All Black team of 2005 had a lot of young-ish players just approaching their peak. Although not selected yet, this year's selection pool seems to have a slightly different balance, maybe with more experience, but possibly less youthful exuberance and X-Factor?

    Thanks to Sky for creating this pop-up channel. I'm looking forward to re-watching the Wellington Test tonight, my abiding memory of which is it being the "Daniel Carter show".

    I wonder who will lay down their name in the history books when the tests happen later this year?



  • Been watching a bit too

    Yep the 2nd test is on 730 tonight. Can't wait to show my son the DC master class we all witnessed that night!



  • @JK said in 2005 Lions Tour Re-Watching:

    Been watching a bit too

    Yep the 2nd test is on 730 tonight. Can't wait to show my son the DC master class we all witnessed that night!

    Even as a Lions supporter nursing some serious disappointment, you had to sit back and be glad that you witnessed Carter that day. I don't think I've ever seen such a complete game at anywhere near the top level.



  • It's amazing just looking at the coverage in 2005 how potato the quality is. Definitely been spoiled by HD all these years.



  • @Catogrande said in 2005 Lions Tour Re-Watching:

    @JK said in 2005 Lions Tour Re-Watching:

    Been watching a bit too

    Yep the 2nd test is on 730 tonight. Can't wait to show my son the DC master class we all witnessed that night!

    Even as a Lions supporter nursing some serious disappointment, you had to sit back and be glad that you witnessed Carter that day. I don't think I've ever seen such a complete game at anywhere near the top level.

    Best game from a ten I've ever seen, everything he tried worked.



  • @Kirwan Yeah, just recently a game I recorded on Fox recorded in SD for some reason - it was almost unwatchable.



  • if you dont have sky but are a member here, they have all the tests availble



  • @Kirwan said in 2005 Lions Tour Re-Watching:

    @Catogrande said in 2005 Lions Tour Re-Watching:

    @JK said in 2005 Lions Tour Re-Watching:

    Been watching a bit too

    Yep the 2nd test is on 730 tonight. Can't wait to show my son the DC master class we all witnessed that night!

    Even as a Lions supporter nursing some serious disappointment, you had to sit back and be glad that you witnessed Carter that day. I don't think I've ever seen such a complete game at anywhere near the top level.

    Best game from a ten I've ever seen, everything he tried worked.

    Don't rub it in mate 😉



  • @knockonwood said in 2005 Lions Tour Re-Watching:

    Some observations specifically from the 1st test in Christchurch:

    • In the first 10 minutes of the match there were enough high tackles, tip tackles, off-the-ball incidents, tackling the player in the air in the lineout and other generally-frowned-upon play that 4 or 5 players would have been in the bin had it been played with today's refereeing emphasis.

    A good example is Umaga's tackle on Lewsey about 10 mins before HT. That tip tackle would be an automatic red card today but wasn't even penalised.

    I don't think I've ever seen a game with so many wins against the throw in the lineout and chargedowns from kicks than in the 1st test.

    The other major difference from the 2005 tour to this years tour will be that neutral refs will be used for all non-test games except the Baabaas game. I remember plenty of bleating from Woodward about the officiating.



  • S'funny. That 2005 tour was the only one since God knows when that I wasn't really invested in. There was something very different and not so good about it from the get-go. I'm not sure if it was the make up of the touring party, the aggressive rhetoric emanating from all and sundry or just the inclusion of that wankstain Cambell.

    It just didn't have the feel of a real Lions tour.



  • @Catogrande said in 2005 Lions Tour Re-Watching:

    It just didn't have the feel of a real Lions tour.

    They should make sure they get out on the lash with the Super franchises the night before the game, and have to play hungover with some people throwing up on the sideline. Now that's a real Lions tour right there, with international bonding and plenty of fraternising with the locals. You can stick the professionalism up your arse ... bring back the boat race, court sessions and fat props.



  • @nzzp said in 2005 Lions Tour Re-Watching:

    @Catogrande said in 2005 Lions Tour Re-Watching:

    It just didn't have the feel of a real Lions tour.

    They should make sure they get out on the lash with the Super franchises the night before the game, and have to play hungover with some people throwing up on the sideline. Now that's a real Lions tour right there, with international bonding and plenty of fraternising with the locals. You can stick the professionalism up your arse ... bring back the boat race, court sessions and fat props.

    Can you imagine the meltdown on the squnky media outlets if that did happen?

    Horror and outrage.



  • @nzzp Ha! Reminds me of a tour one Easter. We had a game against HMS Exeter who were docked at Portsmouth. We got a VIP trip round the ship in the morning, lunch and then a game in the afternoon. All the navy boys were tucking into a large roast lunch and we were encouraged to do the same. Which we did. When we got to the ground a totally different load of Navy boys turned up for the game.

    Never trust a matelot.



  • @knockonwood said in 2005 Lions Tour Re-Watching:

    • In the first 10 minutes of the match there were enough high tackles, tip tackles, off-the-ball incidents, tackling the player in the air in the lineout and other generally-frowned-upon play that 4 or 5 players would have been in the bin had it been played with today's refereeing emphasis.

    Disagree with that. In a high-stakes match they are always going to let things slide less they "ruin" the fixture. Look at the last RWC final, Kepu alone committed more fouls in the first 60 minutes of that fixture than anything in the first 2005 test.

    They have gotten more brazen with issuing yellows in general though - starting somewhere around 2009.



  • @nzzp said in 2005 Lions Tour Re-Watching:

    @Catogrande said in 2005 Lions Tour Re-Watching:

    It just didn't have the feel of a real Lions tour.

    They should make sure they get out on the lash with the Super franchises the night before the game, and have to play hungover with some people throwing up on the sideline. Now that's a real Lions tour right there, with international bonding and plenty of fraternising with the locals. You can stick the professionalism up your arse ... bring back the boat race, court sessions and fat props.

    Have a look at the Lions vs Waikato game on the other thread. The prood Scottish tight five all looked to have done all they could to keep the amateur conditioning alive as long as possible.



  • @Catogrande yeah, I understand what you are saying. There was just too much of everything apart from rugby. Too much media management, too many players, too much talk of things like spies - it was classic leave no stone unturned sort of stuff, and it just didn't really work in my view.

    Turn up, spend some time at clubs, schools, get the locals onside, get a feel for the community, and spend time in the watering holes, the tourist traps and just get out there and have fun and enjoy yourself. Yes, professionalism is now a big part of it, but nobody is saying get pissed every night. A couple of beers and a bbq at a a local rugby club / school will do amazing things for the team and the communities visited.



  • @taniwharugby said in 2005 Lions Tour Re-Watching:

    if you dont have sky but are a member here, they have all the tests availble

    Are those videos downloadable? (I should check pirate bay...)


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