Ryan Grant: 2013 Lion says Scottish rugby suffering from 'lack of respect'

Ryan Grant
Ryan Grant made three appearances for the British and Irish Lions in 2013

Scottish rugby has been unfairly regarded as inferior by other home unions, says Scotland and British and Irish Lions prop Ryan Grant.

No more than three Scots have been included in each original Lions squad for the past five tours.

Only two - Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour - were chosen for this year's initial party to New Zealand.

"There's not much respect from players in the English Premiership for the Pro12," Grant told BBC Scotland.

"They think it's a lesser standard of rugby. Less so now, but definitely in the past, and I guess it's the same for international rugby.

"I'd be lying if I said that other unions didn't think Scottish teams weren't that good. There were four Scots on the last Lions tour, five on this tour, so even though boys are putting up results against Ireland and Wales, they're not getting the recognition, and that can only be because they're perceived to be not as good."

Tommy Seymour scores for the British and Irish Lions against the Hurricanes
Glasgow's Seymour scored two tries in the Lions' 31-31 draw with the Hurricanes on Tuesday

Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw replaced Ben Youngs before the 2017 Lions left for New Zealand, with Finn Russell and Allan Dell two of six controversial mid-tour call-ups sent for by head coach Warren Gatland to provide injury cover.

Fly-half Russell and prop Dell were restricted to brief cameos from the bench, to accommodate a head injury assessment and a sin-binning respectively.

Former Glasgow loose-head Grant, who spent the latter half of last season at Worcester Warriors, believes mind-sets are changing.

"The players are obviously not happy about [the perception] but I think they're going about it in the right way - let the results do the talking," Grant, 31, told BBC Scotland.

Finn Russell
Russell was a mid-tour Lions call-up

"That's quite an old perception of things - the respect for Scottish rugby is growing and deservedly so, the results speak for themselves. Glasgow have done a great job of competing and Scotland recently have put up some great results.

"I think perceptions are changing, but there's not an England team that won't be favourites against Scotland for a while until we can prove otherwise. They believe they're better than us, which to a certain degree they are, but the respect still needs to be there.

"I think in the next tour possibly we'll see a Scottish coach in there, and we'll definitely see more Scottish players involved. I think the future's bright for Scottish rugby and that can only serve the Lions well to have more Scottish players in there and take it back to that kind of evenness, if you like, of a 1997 tour as opposed to a 2017 tour."

Ryan Grant
Grant left Glasgow for Worcester in January 2017

Grant, a member of Glasgow's Pro12-winning squad of 2015, was called up by Gatland to join the victorious 2013 tour of Australia, after rivals Cian Healy and Gethin Jenkins suffered injuries.

The Scot was named as a substitute for the second Test - which the Lions lost - but with starting loose-head Mako Vunipola tiring, he was not introduced, and left out of the squad for the series-deciding third international.

"It's a tough pill to swallow even now, to be so close and to really feel like the team could have benefited from me coming on," Grant added. "Mako was clearly wrecked and we were under the pump, and a bit of fresh legs would have benefited the team. It kind of made it a bit worse that the scrum wasn't going particularly well.

Mako Vunipola
Vunipola, pictured on this year's tour, started ahead of Grant in 2013

"I kind of avoided [forwards coach] Graham Rowntree for a few days after that because I was bitterly disappointed and if we spoke sooner, I would probably say something stupid.

"So I let it cool down for a couple of days, went and spoke to him, and he just kind of said to me that he hadn't seen enough of me and he wasn't sure he could trust me in a Test match like that, and it was the one they lost.

"I just had to say, 'listen, I totally disagree with you, and if you'd watched any of the Six Nations games you'd know I could handle myself, so we'll agree to disagree' - I don't think we've said a single word to each other since.

"Mako was cramping up and he was down every two minutes, so it was kind of an extra kick in the face. But it is what it is - it was four years ago now."

Ryan Grant
Grant has won 25 caps - the last of which came in the 2015 Rugby World Cup against USA

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