The Lions best and worst players from the 2009, 2013 & 2017 tours - Ruck

The Lions best and worst players from the 2009, 2013 & 2017 tours

The return of the British & Irish Lions is almost upon us and rugby fans around the world are buzzing.

Warren Gatland is unbeaten in two consecutive Tours to Australia and New Zealand, and is only the second person to lead a third tour after Sir Ian McGeechan.

Gatland was also part of the last British & Irish Lions touring party to South Africa in 2009 as McGeechan’s forwards coach in the 2-1 series defeat to the Springboks.

We’ve decided to have a brief look back at those last three tours, remembering the standout stars along with the players who failed to perform.

These views and rankings are based on what a publication rated the players immediately following the tour.

2009 tour of South Africa (Bleacher Report)

South Africa won the Test series, defeating the Lions 26–21 in the first Test, and then 28–25 in the second Test. The third Test was won by the Lions 28–9. 


  1. Mike Phillips (Wales): Great scrum-half. Willing to carry, line break and help out at the rucks. Scored a try. Also played at centre and acquitted himself well there too. 9.5/10
  2. Simon Shaw (England): Made his first ever Lions test appearance despite this being his third tour! Showed what a true Lion he was and what the shirt meant to him. Great countermauling, huge hands, great breakdown work at the ruck. 9/10
  3. Jamie Roberts (Wales): He always guaranteed more than a few yards with his running/carrying. Kept the Springboks on their toes constantly.  9/10        


  1. Ronan O’Gara (Ireland): His performances against the Emerging Boks and Southern Kings were woeful. 2/10
  2. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales): Found out. Couldn’t compete with the bok pack. Lost the ball numerous times when carrying. Anonymous for most of the proceedings. Looked terrified at times. 4/10
  3. Lee Mears (England): Went AWOL in the first test, disappointing throwing. Didn’t help at the scrum. 4.5/10


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