The new competition must look good from the start – and stay that way

On the night of the end of the Lions tour in Cape Town, the end of the least watchable series in modern history, there was a rush to leave it behind. Had Warren Gatland’s tourists managed to cross the line, it would have been celebrated like the pioneers in 1974, especially given the circumstances of Covid. The problem would have come to mount the reel of the highlights.

The preamble to the Test series could launch a few sequences where the ball had enough air to float, although the opposition’s attempts to pierce it were a bit dubious. By the time they stepped around the bend for the first test, the script had changed, however. Subsequently, the pieces to be savored needed an exercise to see the light of day.

It wasn’t a shock. When the stakes in the sport go up, the wings tend to cut. We don’t know if attacking coach Gregor Townsend was okay with the Lions’ way of using the ball across the three tests. Maybe it was still the plan to run into the battlefield, ditch that gear, and then dress for the heavy stuff. It would certainly have been very difficult for the mind and body to sustain the war of attrition throughout the tour.

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