Lions 2013: Jeremy Guscott's verdict after history win

 

Following the Lions' historic 2-1 series victory over Australia, BBC Sport asks Lions legend Jeremy Guscott his views on the 2013 Tour.

How highly do you rate the Lions' performance in the third Test?

The decider was an amazing game of rugby which the Lions thoroughly deserved to win. They went out there to win and didn't freeze under the pressure. To win by a record margin was just incredible for the whole squad and management.

Where does it go down in Lions history?

In the more modern era, where tours are much shorter, this victory easily ranks alongside Australia in 1989 and South Africa in 1997. When you look back at the victory in 1971, given how hard it is to beat New Zealand in New Zealand, then that was special. Also the unbeaten Lions in South Africa in 1974 must hold a special place. But all successful Lions' tours deserve recognition because it's so hard to win these tours.

What is your champagne moment (outstanding memory) of the tour?

George North scores for the Lions

George North picked the ball up in his own half before scoring a magnificent solo effort

My champagne moment would be George North's try in the first half of the first Test; it was a piece of individual brilliance that will be remembered for ever.

Who is your player of the tour?

I wouldn't disagree with the general consensus that Leigh Halfpenny was man of the series. I would give special mentions to Alex Corbisiero and Tom Youngs. I thought they were both brilliant.

Who/what has been the biggest disappointment?

My biggest disappointment was the lack of opposition for the Lions on the tour in Hong Kong and Australia plus the failure of the leagues to make special arrangements to accommodate the Lions and help best prepare the squad. I hope they do for 2017 and they've got enough time, but just look how the Super XV tournament accommodated the Australian teams.

What was the best try of the tour?

Apart from George North's individual try in the first Test, I thought Leigh Halfpenny's second try against New South Wales Waratahs was brilliantly worked. It involved the forwards taking the ball up and sucking in the defenders and then it was let go to the backs, who conjured a brilliant move between Jonathan Sexton, Jonathan Davies and Jamie Roberts before Halfpenny finished it off. Brilliant.

Recent Lions series

  • 1997: Lions won 2-1 in South Africa
  • 2001: Lions lost 2-1 in Australia
  • 2005: Lions lost 3-0 in New Zealand
  • 2009: Lions lost 2-1 in South Africa
  • 2013: Lions won 2-1 in Australia

What was the best tackle of the tour?

I don't remember any one stand-out hit, the physicality at this level is always just brutal at times.

What was the funniest moment for you - on or off the pitch?

I think it was the Country captain who, after the game when interviewed, said something like "as if it wasn't hard enough out there when a Lions player got substituted, another international player came on". What was he expecting?

Who was the biggest surprise on tour for you?

The biggest surprise for me was that pretty much every fit squad player played as well as they could and found form at the right time. Given the gruelling toughness of a domestic season that most had been through, to pitch up and play good rugby is a testament to their desire to succeed. Well done.

Who, if anyone, ascended to true 'Test match animal' status?

I don't like the question but most of the Lions will have come away from that tour better players and better people because of the whole experience. It's special because of all the obstacles put in front of you to fail, so to win will give that group a very special feeling they will never forget.

Who impressed you most of the Aussies?

Israel Folau (left) and Sam Warburton

Israel Folau (left) has played rugby league, rugby union and AFL in Australia

Izzy Folau is an incredible talent and I hope Australia can keep hold of him so we can all watch him play in the 2015 World Cup. Will Genia didn't have the greatest third Test, but apart from that he was Mr Australia and everything the Aussies produced started with him.

What was the Lions' best decision?

Selection is the hardest decision to get right so choosing the head coach is always crucial. So the best decision the Lions made was accepting Warren Gatland as head coach.

What does the future hold for the Lions?

The Lions need more respect and understanding from the administrators running the domestic and European competitions. Yes these are fantastic competitions, but the Lions, for a couple of months every four years, generates immeasurable excitement for players and supporters.

Future tours need the support of these administrators to give the Lions the deserved preparation time required. The Lions is the biggest global brand in rugby, it has its place in modern rugby and must remain. Just ask the players and supporters their opinion.