I need a Lion down ... snub to Scots leaves bitter taste

Tommy Seymour and Stuart Hogg are the only Scots in the Lions squad for the tour of New Zealand. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS/SRU
Tommy Seymour and Stuart Hogg are the only Scots in the Lions squad for the tour of New Zealand. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS/SRU

The British and Irish Lions squad is out and it is painful reading for those who are not English, Irish or Welsh.

Scotland will be represented in the red of the Lions in the June New Zealand tour by just two Scots. Stuart Hogg, the back-to-back Six Nations player of the tournament and widely considered best full-back in the world, and his Glasgow Warriors compatriot Tommy Seymour.

It is the joint lowest number of Scots in the history of the tour and makes it the first time since 1908 that no Scottish forward will make the trip.

Two players against 23 combined from Ireland and Wales, teams Scotland took apart under three months ago in the Six Nations Championship. It is a travesty that there is no Jonny Gray, no Sean Maitland or Hamish Watson. No Greg Laidlaw, granted who is only just nearing a return to action following an ankle injury suffered against France in the Six Nations, or Finn Russell, a young star not too dissimilar in quality or talent to Hogg when he was selected for the 2014 tour of Australia.

The omission of such quality from the Scottish ranks is made all the more difficult to digest with the inclusion of injured pair Alun Wyn Jones and Sam Warburton, who was named tour captain but is expected to be sidelined for six weeks after suffering a medial ligament strain in his knee.

Or the inclusion of Saracens’ George Krus, who only made his return to competitive rugby last weekend after tearing a ligament in his knee playing for England in the Six Nations. Taulupe Faletau, another Welsh knee injury victim, has hardly logged the minutes since his return to the field to deserve a Lions place. Surely Glasgow captain Gray could have been considered, especially for the two second row places, or flanker Watson, who tore into the Welsh back-row in Scotland’s victory.

The slight on Scotland has been felt, with many within the industry left with a bitter taste in their mouths. Two-time Lions tourer and 25-time Scotland capped John Beattie saying on the announcement: “12 Welsh players selected from a team that finished second bottom of the Six Nations” he added “ 2 scots in the Lions….. I bite my tongue…. I bite my tongue.”

It is a bitter pill to swallow for a number of Scottish rugby supporters who back the Lions, Gatland’s judgement call on just two Scots will come.

He will either be vindicated on the selection with a first tour win in New Zealand since 1971 or provide yet another example of favouritism that has poisoned the Lions jersey and left supporters in Scotland leading more towards supporting the All Blacks rather than the Lions.