Lions legend Sir Ian McGeechan has picked a British and Irish Lions XV for next year’s tour of South Africa which rugby fans will find damn difficult to argue with it.

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McGeechan knows his Lions too. The Scot was the British and Irish Lions Head Coach in 1989, 1993, 1997 and 2009. In 2005, he also coached the midweek side on the tour to New Zealand.

McGeechan told the BBC’s Tom English: “You don’t beat the Springboks physically, but you manage them physically so you can win somewhere else.

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“We did that in 1974 and, in 1997, we moved their powerful forwards around the pitch and played away from them. In 2009, we didn’t win the series but the South Africans said they couldn’t read the rugby we were playing at times.”

McGeechan also referenced his famous ‘Test Match Animals’ speech.

“Technically and tactically the game moves on, but the principle remains the same – the more decision-makers you have in the team the better. This is why I used the phrase ‘Test-Match Animal’ – you’re looking for a player who has another level he can go to mentally and technically under pressure.”

He was known for his emotional speeches on tour, not least in the last time the Lions were in South Africa. Having narrowly lost the first and second Tests in 2009, the Lions were in search of an important win in Ellis Park in the last match of the series against South Africa.

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“They’ve said there’s nothing to play for, it’s a dead series. I think we’ve everything to play for because today will determine what we are. It will say everything about us.” He broke down in tears afterwards.

Ian McGeechan Lions XV

Stuart Hogg
Anthony Watson
Manu Tuilagi
Jonathan Davies
Liam Williams
Owen Farrell
Gareth Davies
Rory Sutherland
Jamie George
Tadhg Furlong
Maro Itoje
James Ryan
Jamie Ritchie
Tom Curry
Billy Vunipola

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