The squad for this year's British Lions tour to New Zealand has just been announced , and five London-based players have made the cut. Josh Lewesy, Matt Dawson and Lawrence Dallaglio of Wasps, Richard Hill of Saracens and Will Greenwood of Harlequins will all be very happy to learn that they are going to be gettin' on that plane and heading to the land of the long white cloud.
Notice anything in common about them? Yes, they are all English and yes, they all won the World Cup in 2003 as part of Sir Clive Woodward's England team. Clive has most definitely opted for the 'tried and tested' route, picking players that he knows and trusts and who understand what it takes to beat southern hemisphere sides on their own patch. So despite the fact that England finished fourth in this year's Six Nations tournament, it is that country that provides the bulk of the touring party, with 20 from the white rose brigade making the trip compared to 11 Irishmen, 10 Welshmen and 3 Scots. Looking a little closer, it's worth noting that 17 English players who appeared in the World Cup Final against Australia were available for selection and 11 of them have been picked, with the door being held open for a further three (Mike Tindall, Phil Vickery and a certain Jonny Wilkinson).
Clive wants his boys with him, which is why Greenwood and Hill have been picked, despite both of them missing nearly the entire season through injury. You may also have thought that Lawrence Dallaglio's retirement from the England team might have precluded him from selection, but this is Lawrence we're talking about, and you can be sure that the All Blacks won't be too happy to see him back. Spare a thought for his two back-row colleagues at Wasps though. Joe Worsley and Johnny O'Connor have been magnificent this season, and are very unlucky to be missing out.