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The Grateful Eight: How the SRU reacted to the largest Scottish Lions contingent since 1989

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

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The Scottish Rugby Union have reacted with unbridled joy at the number of its players named in the British and Irish Lions squad for South Africa.


Head coach Warren Gatland has infamously avoided Scots in his selections to date, but with eight making the plane in 2021, it’s something of a red-letter day for the union.

First-time Lions include Edinburgh trio Hamish Watson, Duhan van der Merwe and Rory Sutherland and Glasgow Warriors’ Zander Fagerson and Ali Price.

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As expected, Exeter’s Stuart Hogg and Racing 92’s Finn Russell both get call-ups following previous tours, while Gloucester’s Chris Harris will is another first-time tourist.

There is also a strong Scottish influence in the coaching ticket with Gregor Townsend coaching attack, and Scotland’s Welsh coach Steve Tandy, leading the defence.

“I am delighted eight Scotland players have been selected today in the British and Irish Lions squad,” said Scottish Rugby’s Chief Executive Officer, Mark Dodson. “This is the biggest contingent that Scotland has had in the initial touring party since nine were named for the 1989 tour to Australia, which was captained by Finlay Calder.

“The competitiveness we have shown throughout the last two Six Nations Championship campaigns is now underlined by today’s announcement. It affirms we are producing players to compete alongside some of the best in the world and I warmly congratulate all the Scottish players, and the whole 37-man squad on their selection.”


Scottish Rugby’s Director of High Performance, Jim Mallinder, added: “I am incredibly excited to see all of these players selected in the 37-man squad for the 2021 British and Irish Lions tour. The experience that they and our coaches, Gregor Townsend and Steve Tandy, will gain from being on this tour is fantastic. I wish them all the best in the upcoming campaign in South Africa.”

The squad of 37 players will meet at a training camp in Jersey prior to their warm-up fixture against Japan at BT Murrayfield on June 26. They will then head out to South Africa where they will play eight matches. This will include three Test matches against the current world champion Springboks.


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