A tour too far - Players exploited and vulnerable

AT some point today, 41 Lions players will wake up in the Land of the Long White Cloud — home of the most vibrant, powerful rugby culture in the world.

Some of those sleepy players might be forgiven for wondering where they are, or more pointedly, why they are where they are.

Some of them brought the curtain down on their domestic seasons just hours ago — about 72 — so preparation has been scant, a reality that seems reckless.

Rugby is an attritional game and injuries occur when players are not fit or fresh so it is more than probable that the long list of players whose career ended prematurely because of a Lions’ tour injury will be extended.

They play their first tour game on Saturday.

Despite those caveats, all of those players are delighted to be there — which just shows that the romance of sport endures even if the players are flogged bit players in an increasingly exploitative circus.

It is hard not to think that this great, unifying tradition is in jeopardy unless the commercial interests running the game relent — and unfortunately, that seems even less likely than a test series win.

A tour too far.


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