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'That's the bit that would linger for me if I was a player' - Monye on Lions

By Kim Ekin
Ugo Monye /Getty Images

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Former British & Irish Lions winger Ugo Monye has said that touring players have a right to feel dissatisfied by the brand of rugby that Warren Gatland deployed in South Africa.


The Lions fell to a 2 – 1 loss to the World Champion Springboks, despite going ahead one-nil in the series. Gatland’s men looked to match South Africa with a game that mirrored their hosts, and they ultimately came up short as a result.

Speaking on the BBC Rugby Podcast, Monye said that in some ways it was a relief that the tour had come to an end.

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“From a British & Irish Lions perspective, it’s meant to be a distraction, a level of escapism for several hours on a Saturday. It wasn’t.

“In many ways, it’s quite nice to draw a line under it. The style of rugby was just underwhelming.”

Monye, who was on the last tour of South Africa with the Lions in 2009, said the conservative tactics will leave players feeling like they hadn’t been able to express themselves as players.

“From a playing perspective, when you surround yourself with the best players and the best coaches, for the tactics to be what they were and so conservative. To not have that ability to go out and express yourself, that is the bit that would linger for me if I was a player.


“If you’re any of those back three players and your job role was made fairly redundant. In the warm-up matches our back three was our strength. We know how good these players are when they get service but if I was a winger coming back from this tour I’d be slightly dissatisfied.”

“I never thought they were going to win the series playing like that,” said co-anchor Danny Care. “It’s easy to say it now, but I didn’t.

“I thought, if you’re going to beat South Africa, you’ve got to do something different.

“Finn Russell showed in 70 minutes, way to unpick that defence.”


“Looking back it’s easy to say if the Lions played more they would have won.”

This weekend Finn Russell, who only played in the third Test due to injury, openly questioned the tactics used on the tour.

“I thought that all three Tests we should have played more rugby and gone at them a little bit more,” said Russell, who was speaking from Paris. “The first two Tests we played off nine for two phases and I kind of felt that played into their defence.”

“We weren’t doing much out of the back of it. We were keeping the attack narrow instead of having a wide attack.

“The first ten minutes of the third Test, there was still quite a bit of kicking and a lot of play off nine. There wasn’t much rugby that actually got played.


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