Lions overlook trio of 6 Nations skippers

Lions overlook trio of 6 Nations skippers

Three RBS 6 Nations captains – Ryan Jones, Steve Borthwick and Mike Blair - have failed to make the British and Irish Lions squad for the tour of South Africa.

Lions manager Gerald Davies today ended the waiting game by announcing a 37-man party for the 10-match trip, that includes three Tests against the world champion Springboks.

But there was only disappointment for Wales skipper Jones, England captain Borthwick and Scotland leader Blair.

Other absentees include Jonny Wilkinson, Danny Cipriani, Gavin Henson and James Hook, plus the shock omission of England flanker Tom Croft.

But there were surprise call-ups for the likes of Munster pair Keith Earls and Alan Quinlan in a squad that will be captained by their Munster colleague, Ireland lock Paul O’Connell.

Ireland will provide 14 players, Wales 13, England eight and Scotland just two - prop Euan Murray and lock Nathan Hines.

Among the other players who have emerged into potential stardom are Wales wing Leigh Halfpenny, England flyer Ugo Monye and Wales number eight Andy Powell.

Powell has arguably beaten his national captain Jones for a back-row slot, with Jones – Wales’ Grand Slam skipper last year – going from hero to zero in just 12 months.

Earls, meanwhile, has provided a dynamic presence for Heineken Cup holders Munster this season, while Quinlan is a renowned hard-man who will relish the challenge of a South African trip.

Joining Jones among the casualties are England full-back Delon Armitage, who impressed many through his outstanding displays this season.

Armitage’s omission appears to buck the trend of Lions head coach Ian McGeechan selecting on form, especially as Wales wing Shane Williams has made the cut after an average campaign.

And there are also call-ups for four members of McGeechan’s Wasps – centre Riki Flutey, prop Phil Vickery, lock Simon Shaw and back-row forward Joe Worsley.

"Following a highly competitive RBS 6 Nations Championship this year today's announcement of the British & Irish Lions tour squad has been highly anticipated," said Davies, who made the announcement.

"Being selected as a Lion is a huge honour for a player and marks a major highlight in his career. I congratulate each of the players on their selection and look forward to a successful and rewarding tour to South Africa."

"To get where we are today and the announcement of the 37 players who will travel to South Africa has taken a lot of thought and work," added McGeechan.

"Over the last six months the Lions coaching staff has attended countless matches, analysed endless games and taken the counsel of national and domestic coaches. Today marks the end of a comprehensive and detailed selection process."

"Naturally there were some tough decisions and there will be disappointed players but I am confident that this is a very strong and capable squad. Its composition reflects the form shown in the 6 Nations and domestic rugby and has a balanced blend of experience and youth."

The tour starts against a High Veld XV in Rustenburg on May 30.

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