As the final round of international fixtures comes to a close, all eyes now turn to who British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland will select for his squad to face South Africa, and Lead Partner Vodafone can exclusively reveal who the fans have put their faith in to do justice to the famous red jersey on this summer’s tour.
More than 13,000 rugby fans from across England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales have made their voices heard using the XV Selector feature on the Official Lions App, which was launched in October in partnership with Vodafone. After an eventful tournament there are shock omissions from the squad for England’s Billy Vunipola, George Ford and Elliot Daly, and the startling rise of young winger Louis Rees-Zammit, who books a place not just on the plane but in the starting XV, with a massive 56% of fans picking him on the wing.
Responding to the fans’ picks, Lions legend and iconic England centre and Vodafone ambassador Jeremy Guscott said:
“The fans have built a strong team, no doubt about it, and one I’m confident would have a great chance at going toe-to-toe with South Africa. Louis Rees-Zammit has really impressed this season and deserves a seat on the plane, if not the starting test team. I personally would have Maro Itoje playing second row and- Tadhg Beirne or Taulupe Faletau as our blindside flanker, but agree with the fans that Anthony Watson would deliver a good performance on the right wing.”
England and Saracens legend and Vodafone ambassador Maggie Alphonsi approves of the selections, saying: “I can’t wait to see how the fans’ favourites match up to Gatland’s selected team, but from where I’m standing I think the fan’s squad would be more than capable of coming home with a victory. The battle for the captaincy is really tough – there are plenty of contenders but Alun Wyn Jones would be a sensible alternative. The Lions captain will need to be respected by players, coaches and the referees and be capable of making decisions under pressure. Jones is a true leader, the only challenge may be the second row position is likely to be heavily contested”
Vodafone has analysed all the data collected so far, and has used the votes to compile a full Lions squad, an overall 23 for the first test, and a 23 as voted for by each nation’s fans. Highlights fom the fans’ selections include:
Who’s Made the Plane
- Jamie George (39%),
- Luke Cowan-Dickie (27%)
- Ken Owens (34%)
- Rory Sutherland (15%)
- Mako Vunipola (29%)
- Cian Healy (16%)
- Tadhg Furlong (47%)
- Kyle Sinckler (38%)
- Andrew Porter (12%)