Your views on the Lions Tour

With the tour over, this messageboard is now closed. Thanks to the hundreds of you who emailed your views from across New Zealand, Britain, Ireland and further afield.

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ABs just great, Lions getting better - pity Clive didn't sort things out earlier - GH can certainly teach him a thing or two. Pity to hear some fans not happy with NZ facilities - but the people certainly make up for it. The ref in the 3rd test has got to go, what IS the rugby union going to do about him - cannot have the bias against the ABs going into the Tri-Nations.
Chris, NZ, 9.7.05

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I along with a number of my rugby club here in the UK have just cut short our trip to NZ to return home. This was not due to the disappointing performance of the Lions but due to the unbearable gloating and blatantly rude treatment that our team received from the tin pot NZ press and the general NZ public. We came to NZ to support our team and not to see them derided and ridiculed by your media; we spent near NZ$100,000 during our stay in NZ as everywhere we went felt it fit to vastly inflate their prices to exploit us. We will not be returning. NZ certainly does not have the infrastructure to host a World Cup, your tiny stadiums, crumbling hotels and exploitative nature is not conducive to incentivising wealthy Europeans to travel around the world to be mocked in your press.
John, UK, 9.7.05

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It has been fantastic watching the All Blacks over the last fortnight, but none of these results really count. The only focus should be France 2007. That is all that matters. Winning the RWC should be the only goal. New Zealand has failed in its last 4 attempts to win the World Cup - 3 times they were stand-out favourites. Henry and the All Blacks must keep their heads down and confidence intact. I would give up 5 Lions series and 5 Bledisloe Cups if it meant winning the RWC.
Nick Butler, NZ, 8.7.05

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After the 2003 World Cup Clive Woodward wrote a book called "Winning!" After this tour he can write another one called "Losing!" He should have quit at the top. Instead of being remembered as the man who won the World Cup with England he'll be remembered for what's happened on this Lions tour.
Kevin, 8.7.05

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Clive Woodward is not to blame. You see, this has been a consistent trend over the last 20 years in favour of the Southern Hemisphere. England have always beaten NZ or Aus 1 in every 5 cycle. It was by 3 points and that has made the British game complacent as world beaters. The fact that they are taking a hiding in the other 4 of 5 in the cycle is seemingly overshadowed. Still it was coincidently good timing last as it happened to be the last 'roll of the dice' advantage to kick a goal that off-set the deltas vs Australia in 2003. Well ... world order has since long been restored much like the freeze after the nuclear storm. In fact since 2003, a six-nations team has not won an international match away vs a SANZAR nation -- not even close and they have been embarrassingly out-classed.
"The Balls", Ottawa, Canada, 8.7.05

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As I have been to several Lions midweek games, the touring Barmy Army don't seem to understand that these are NPC sides, understrength and half of the players don't play Super 12. I'm just waiting till they field Dorothy, the tin man and the scarecrow! These international players they brought over wouldn't even see a score on the board if the Crusaders or the Blues fielded a side.
Rhys, NZ, 7.7.05

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The Lions would return home winless if they played Super 12 sides. That would give them something to work on in South Africa.
Graham, NZ, 7.7.05

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I really don't believe the Lions would be able to beat any Super 12 side. The class and skill of our Super 12 is far greater than an NPC team thrown together and given a few weeks training. Teams such as the Crusaders and Blues would probably slaughter the Lions with their fast-paced and up-beat skill.
Joel Hansen, NZ, 7.7.05 
 

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Imagine the big red machine that is the Crusaders up against a three-week-old Lions side, still undecided as to their test line-up! There was no way the Lions would agree to such a mismatch.
Gavin, 7.7.05

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I flew in for the first test in Christchurch and watched the second back in Sydney. With league dominating coverage here, I pulled out my old AB test tapes over the past 12 months. I was a critic when Mitchell was replaced by Henry but as each test has progressed the standards have picked up. The scary thing is that it hasn't slowed up - Wellington was an improvement on Christchurch, which was an improvement on Paris. Many Australians ask me if the ABs are that good or are the Lions just bad, well I don't know the answer but we all will in two months time when the Tri Nations is over. The Lions A team (or two teams) should have thrashed some of the NPC they played but have struggled, so it may be the Lions are bad. But I suspect the ABs are great and will get greater.
SS - Sydney, 7.7.05

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If they were lucky, the Lions might have beaten the Chiefs. But I have my reservations about that. The Crusaders would have crucified them, the Blues would have blitzed them, the Hurricanes would have blown them away, and the Highlanders would have hurt them up front before pulling away in the last quarter. The Lions would have taken a pounding, similar to what Woodward has taken in the press.
James, 7.7.05

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Firstly I want to congratulate the All Blacks on two superb wins so far, the second one being an absolutely wonderful performance. They blew away a Lions team that had improved hugely after the First Test, giving a performance that we can at least be proud of, even given the scoreline!

Secondly I also want to congratulate the non-test NZ teams and players for showing the Northern Hemisphere how rugby should be played. Every team the Lions played did so with the kind of ability, skill and determination that we're not used to. Thanks for blowing away the notion that Woodward still has something to offer. Everyone up here had seen the inevitability of what happened on this tour before the party left these shores. Hopefully we can now learn the lessons and at least give you guys a game come the next World Cup!
Tom Johnston, UK, 6.7.05

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Isn't all this hyperbole and sensationalism on both sides a little ridiculous. The fact is NZ have 5 or 6 players who are the best in their position in the world at the moment - like England did in 2002 - and consequently are the best. They look like walking the Tri-nations and will probably dominate up to the next World Cup. In any sport you need the players, a sense of playing for each other, and a reasonably simple system for them to work in, whether it's rugby, football or even basketball. Henry isn't a genius and Woodward isn't an idiot; but the pendulum has deinitely swung back to the South. Let's all enjoy the spectacle while it lasts... bet you don't win in France in 2007 though.
Andrew, UK, 6.7.05

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This All Blacks team has the ability to earn the mantle of greatness against stronger opposition.  The key, for me, lies at No. 10.  The All Blacks have been vulnerable in that position in recent years.  Mehrtens was solid but unspectacular, and Spencer could be brilliant, but Carter is in a class of his own.  He has taken over from Wilkinson, like New Zealand have taken over from England, and he has taken the game to a new level, as have his team-mates.  It is also a pleasure to note Carter's modesty after the event.  When Wilkinson left the field, he gave Carter a nod, to acknowledge the sea-change. That was the kind of dignified gesture we expect from Jonny (the cheer with which his departure through injury was met by many Welsh fans does not compare favourably).  Carter also possesses these qualities, as well as being a brilliant player: he is the model No 10. 

It was a joy to watch him, and it was a joy to watch the All Blacks' style of play.  There are people in England who are pleased, for the good of the game, that the Woodward approach - all expenditure and preparation - has failed.  If you write an essay and do not know how to answer the question, you cover the subject from every possible angle; that is what he has done, and it betrays his lack of understanding of rugby.  There are also many people in England who enjoy watching Super 12, and who believe that rugby should be a creative, entertaining game, not simply a battle of attrition.  The All Blacks' performances, and victories, were a victory for the sport.  With Carter, McCaw and Hayman, and perhaps another quality scrum-half, they have the platform to dominate rugby for the next few years.
Michael, Japan, 5.7.05

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Now that the All Blacks have won the series, does that mean that Sir Clive will hand back his knighthood?
David McKeown, Port Macquarie, NSW, Australia, 5.7.05   

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Marshall at scrum-half , Mehrtens at first five-eighths, Nonu at inside centre; Umaga plays center with Leon McD at fullback; both wings for this 3rd Test remain unchanged; Mils on the bench (they'll need him in Cape Town much more than in a series that's already won. Mehrtens is a tried and proven Test kicker under every pressure situation, whereas Leon, although he does kick well, isn't a proven kicker when it matters. Merhtens is a proven organiser of his backline and NZ Rugby at the very least needs excperience in this last match in key positions. Would they really want to head to Cape Town with the last match they played having an L in the W - L column? Nick Evans is too hairum-scarum to be tossed into the mix at this juncture.
Allan Bernard, 4.7.05

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It would be great to see Mehrtens have a last canter on the park in Auckland but maybe that is too sentimental a thought for the world of professional rugby. Good to see the ABs playing so well. Keep it up for 2007.
Jack Corse, Sechelt, British Columbia, Canada, 4.7.05

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Luke McAlister or Nick Evans at first-five. Even maybe MacDonald. Get the young guys in some experience.
Matt Purds, 4.7.05

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Prior to the first test, I sat in anticipation, how would we go? After our previous coaching experience, what could Henry do? Well I think he has bought the players back to earth, playing as a team, not as individuals, showing their skills with each other. I was very proud to see 15 players acting as one. If I never see another test, this will live in my memory as the best game of rugby I will ever see. Congratulations to Graham Henry and his assistants, you made us proud of the All Black jersey once again.
Gordon Jenks, Otago, 4.7.05

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Now is not the time to blood a new player. We are not building up to a world cup next year. Mehrtens is the next best first-five in the country. No question. He should front up to the Lions.
Eden Chapman, 4.7.05

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Give Big Merhts a final swansong. He has been good to us and we should be good to him.
Robbie Burgess, NZ, 4.7.05

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Andrew Mehrtens... A globally admired tactician and still a worthy and effective player. Why not give arguably New Zealand's best first-five one last chance to showcase the skills that have gained him 967 test points and so many All Black selections. I am sure the player who can best fill Carter's shoes is the one who has helped graft him into a world class player. See ya Mehrts! Thanks for everything (especially Brisbane 1996). Hope you get the send off you deserve.
Michael Stokes, Australia, 4.7.05

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I believe that the replacement for injured Dan Carter should be Andrew Mehrtens. Sentimentality aside, his familiarity with playing outside Marshall and having teamed on many occasions with the likes of Umaga. Despite MacDonald's familiarity with the position, we need a specialist at this position and Mehrtens is still a master tactician, positional and goal kicker. His experience and ability when it comes to big game rugby is already cemented in history. Not taking anything away from the abilities of Nick Evans who is a wonderful source of talent for the future he does lack big game experience and vetting him in such a vital game may not be either prudent or beneficial. Finally on the sentimental side, Mehrtens has given his all over the years to NZ rugby and has scored 967 points in 70 test matches not to mention his Super 12 tally. We've already won the series and I don't think his inclusion would in anyway reduce the team's potency or ability to secure a series whitewash. NZ rugby should be wary of dismissing its great players when they are still very much a playing force in rugby as the possible exodus of experienced players at an earlier and earlier stage in their careers to more lucrative contracts overseas could prove a future problem both on and off the field.
Tony Davies, 4.7.05

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Andrew Mehrtens should be given the chance. A veteran and hero of All Black rugby should be picked to, if not start, then come off the bench against the Lions on Saturday. The last hurrah so to speak.
Nicky Ferguson, NZ, 4.7.05

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AB's first five-eights should be non other than Andrew Mehrtens..
Upnesh Singh, Fiji, 4.7.05

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Nick Evans should be first five, he has the game. A big match atmosphere will prove his ability, he is the future back-up to Carter, take the opportunity - forget being sentimental, play a specialist.
Andrew, 4.7.05

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The roar of the British Lions is almost at squeeky miaow. Come on you Lions, you need to put the Southern Hemisphere rugby nation on notice that the roar will sound again when we next meet on the turf.
Teo, Brisbane, 3.7.05 

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I would like to apologise to Mr Woodward, it seems that last week's team was the better Lions team. It looks as if the out-dated, overrated and out of form players did better than their younger in-form team mates who got demolished last night. Then again how would you play if you were only chosen second time around and in the hope of doing well. It looked as if half the team were firing and half were sulking. So sorry Mr Woodward that really was the best team last week - you shouldn't have listened to everyone else, you should have stuck to your guns mate. To the All Blacks, the future is looking good boys - keep it up.
Kevin Auckland, 3.7.05

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What a great game, just goes to show if the Lions talked less and played more maybe they could be a threat in the future (somehow I doubt it). Maybe they could ask Prince William to play for them. Well done to Tana and the boys, they are the number one team.
Denise Roe, Australia, 3.7.05

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I have enjoyed reading your articles over the past few weeks. Other people's views open up rugby. It's also refreshing to know, that like us (The Welsh), you have your share of narrow minded Nationalist bile jockeys.

I hope at the end of the tour, when the Press and various flunkies from Sir Clive's Magical Mystery Tour party has flown out, all the players have a "couple" of drinks, relax and have a laugh, then look forward to the autumn series...
Dave Edwards, Wales, 3.7.05

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Sitting in a bar in Singapore surrounded by red shirts, the few of us in black shirts managed to make our voices well and truly heard each time the ABs scored some points. Let’s all accept a few things - off the ball play happens and to say one team does more than the other is rubbish. However let’s acknowledge when one team outplays and outclasses the other, and that’s what we saw today. Well done the ABs - Byron was magnificent, Richie was sensational, and Dan showed the entire rugby loving world what a class act he is. Congratulations to the entire team for giving the entire nation something to be proud about. Its great to be a kiwi!
Elle, Singapore, 3.7.05 

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Where are you now, Mr Campbell? Haven’t you realised rugby is played on the field not off it. 10 million pounds, 50 players, 29 staff... please explain where it all went wrong?
Simo Dymo, UK, 3.7.05 

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Fair play to the All Blacks. The Lions came out with all guns blazing & tried to stick it to the ABs, but their power, speed and class came through in the end. A great game to watch (even if I was hoping the ABs would get their ass kicked). Don’t think it would have any difference who was playing them today, nobody could have matched that power for 80 minutes. Well done ABs - Come on the Lions. PS: next AB who blocks at the restart should be “cleaned out” – it happened way too much today.
Alan, Ireland, 3.7.05 

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What a great game,just goes to show if the Lions talked less, and played more maybe they could be a threat in the future (somehow I doubt it). Maybe they could ask Prince William to play for them. Well done to Tana and the boys, they are the number one team.
Denise Roe, Australia, 3.7.05

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Awesome awesome awesome! Fantastic fast hard game by All Blacks. Good to see lions come out strong this time, made the game more enjoyable. And a fantastic crowd from both sides. Go the All Blacks!
Mel, Australia, 3.7.05 

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What a terrific game to watch and congratulations to NZ. What a turn-round you’ve made since the World Cup and roll on the next one. It seems to me the boys are fitter and faster and the passing is a delight to see.
Cecil Ferguson, Gloucester, UK (ex-Ireland), 3.7.05

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Watching it over here in Barbados. What a performance from the ABs. A few very dodgy AB off the ball blocks and other incidents, but the off loading in the tackle was outstanding, especially for the Sivavatu try. Every time I thought a good solid ball and man tackle had gone in, the ball just kept being popped out along the line. Thought the scoreline was a tad unfair though as the Lions played some good stuff. The Lions backs are wonderful attacking players, but on the back foot - not the best. Carter of course will take all the plaudits but Tana seems to be getting better with age and Kelleher had a blinder. The game was a great advert for rugby. I’ll be cheering you guys on in the next world cup (that’s after Wales get knocked out!).
Gareth, Wales, 3.7.05 

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