Irish rugby fans have been left furious by Lions coach Warren Gatland’s decision to drop Johnny Sexton from his roster of 37 men for this summer’s tour of South Africa.
Gatland announced its touring side on Thursday for the three-game test series against the Springboks this summer, with Wales veteran Alun Wyn Jones named captain.
One of the most controversial decisions was that Gatland would omit the veteran Irish fly-half Sexton, in favor of the Scottish Finn Russell, as well as the English prop Kyle Sinckler.
Warren Gatland announced his 37-man squad to record South Africa later this summer and it has sparked huge fan controversy
Gatland was accused of ‘raising two fingers to Ireland’ after rejecting half of Johnny Sexton’s fly
Fans raved about the inclusion of Sam Simmonds, which has been overlooked by England
Fans accused the New Zealander of deliberately not choosing Irish players after he was fired as Ireland’s coach in 2001
Sexton, who was involved in the last two Lions series under Gatland, closed the Six Nations strongly with Ireland this year, but has suffered persistent concussions ever since.
Irish fans felt particularly sad that James Ryan and Garry Ringrose also missed.
But it was the decision to leave Sexton at home that caused the most uproar, and some fans even accused the New Zealand-born coach of deliberately not selecting Irish players after being fired by the IRFU in 2001.
@mickmuldoon posted: ‘Gatland continues to raise two fingers to Ireland some 20 years later. I bet that ladder contained Irish steel, ” referring to an incident where Gatland broke both his legs after falling off a ladder in 2012.
@SilianGrail agrred, posting: ‘Gatland has never forgiven Ireland for being fired by the IRFU’, while @donaghbarry added: ‘Gatland still hasn’t forgiven Ireland, he has’.
Another fan simply wrote, ‘Wow. Not Johnny Sexton. ‘
“Easy to know there was no Irish man on the lion committee,” added another unfortunate Irish supporter.
@ Dan23_92 tweeted: ‘From an Irish standpoint, no Sexton or Ryan is a surprise and not something I agree with.’
@ Joe_OShea25 commented, ‘Gutton for Sexton to miss. I understand why with its durability in question just gutted.
“I thought he performed just as well as all ten in the Six Nations. Criminally underestimated this year ‘.
Japan, June 26, Edinburgh, TBC
Stormers, July 3, Cape Town, 7 p.m.
SA Invitational, July 7, Port Elizabeth, 7:00 pm
Sharks, July 10, Durban, 7pm
South Africa A, July 14, Nelspruit, 7 pm
Bulls, July 17th, Pretoria, 7pm
SOUTH AFRICA, July 24, Johannesburg, 5 p.m.
SOUTH AFRICA, July 31, Cape Town, 5 p.m.
SOUTH AFRICA, August 7, Johannesburg, 5 p.m.
Another shock was the omission of the English gag Kyle Sinckler who was left out as he was a regular under Eddie Jones for the past few years.
Many assumed the Bristol Bears prop would be one of the first names on the team magazine, let alone on the squad list.
Sinckler made a name for himself on the 2017 tour to New Zealand and was seen as an opportunity to get back into the Test battle after a strong Six Nations, but he is missing.
But Gatland has opted to go in a different direction in the front row, selecting props Mako Vunipola, Wyn Jones, Rory Sutherland, Tadhg Furlong, Andrew Porter and Zander Fagerson.
Even seemingly a Wales fan, @ al_cardiff1, tweeted his surprise: ‘Sinckler hurt? thought he would be one of the first ‘.
@mana_rugby added: ‘Jesus I just realized Sinckler wasn’t picked? !! ‘
One fan said, ‘Kyle Sinckler not going is probably the strangest decision for me,’ while another tweeted, ‘Gats really thinks Andrew Porter is a better short than Sinckler. Mentally ‘.
@RoryDaviesCCFC insisted that Sinckler and fellow England teammate were both ‘robbed’.
Many thought the real Kyle Sinckler in England would be a guaranteed choice for the Lions tour
As Sportsmail reported Wednesday night, Exeter Chiefs No 8 Sam Simmonds has won a seat in the touring party.
Simmonds, the current European Player of the Year, has been picked by Gatland, despite consistently being overlooked by England since winning the last of his seven caps in 2018.
Some fans were delighted that Simmonds had given him a chance and called on him to “show why Eddie Jones should have chosen him.”
@MrDanCarroll tweeted: ‘Happy to see Sam Simmons picked to join the Lions squad. Great player and should have been selected for England in the 6 countries.
His time to show why Eddie Jones should have chosen him for international rugby.
@IANSONPJ agreed, posting, ‘Simmons is constantly being overlooked by @EnglandRugby now a lion. Tells us everything we need to know recently about England’s troubles. Too many people do more by name than by form. ‘
@iamjollysam wrote: ‘Sam Simmons being selected for the Lions with 7 English caps after in fact being ignored by Eddie is absolutely class’.
England said the decision to include Simmonds highlighted the troubles under Eddie Jones
After his roster was announced, Gatland said, “To the selected players, congratulations.
‘I know it will be a challenge on a number of aspects. First of all, I hope they enjoy the tour immensely and represent their four home nations to the best of their ability.
‘South Africa is going to be incredibly tough. We know how physical they can be and we saw that in the World Cup final, but we need to be able to roll up our sleeves and hopefully match that physicality, but also be very positive in the way we want to play.
‘We have some exciting players. And hopefully you get that balance between the hard work but also playing great rugby. ‘
The 2021 Lions will play their first game together in a friendly against Japan on June 26 in Edinburgh.
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