FORMER Scottish Rugby Union president Ian McLauchlan has launched a stinging attack on British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland after only two Scots were named in the squad to tour New Zealand.
Glasgow Warriors full-back Stuart Hogg and winger Tommy Seymour are the sole Scots in a 41-man squad that also includes 16 players from England, 12 from Wales and 11 from Ireland. McLauchlan, who played in eight Tests for the Lions and is still a director of the SRU, said he understood why a coaching group with no Scottish representative should have made the choices they did, but he also suggested that Gatland had not done enough to assess the claims of other Scots who had been thought to be in contention.
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“Until recently we haven’t actually cut the mustard nationally, so we don’t have too much of a gripe in that respect,” McLauchlan said yesterday. “Then there’s the element of trust. The other national coaches know the players they’ve worked with, whereas they don’t actually know what they’ll get from the Scots boys.
“I think the time will come, possibly even as early as the next Lions tour – if there is one – that we’ll have a better representation, but that’ll come. We started from a very, very low base a few years ago and we haven’t won too many games of late.”
Having explained that he thought English club owners could jeopardise future tours by threatening to withhold their players, McLauchlan said that Warriors coach Gregor Townsend and Scotland assistant Jason O’Halloran – who is moving to the Warriors in the summer – had both been correct to turn down the invitation to be assistant coaches to Gatland. And he left no room for doubt about his low opinion of the Lions head coach.
“The difficulty with Scotland is that when [outgoing head coach] Vern Cotter came, he had an interim coach in Scott Johnson, and everybody went mad about that. And now you’ve got, ‘We should have let Gregor go’, but Gregor is just starting a new job as well.
“So you’ve got a choice: is it more important that Gregor coaches the Lions or Scotland? In my opinion there’s only one horse in that race and that’s Scotland.
Gatland, who had stressed the importance of being able to win tough games away from home, saw Scotland beat Ireland and Wales at Murrayfield in this year’s Six Nations Championship but also saw them lose in Paris and London. He spent time in the Scotland camp before one of the home games.
Wales forward Sam Warburton has been named as Lions captain.
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