"It drives me mad" - Keith Wood on partisan coverage of Lions

Ex-Ireland captain was on the 1997 and 2001 Lions tours

BY Raf Diallo 20:37 Wednesday 24 May 2017, 20:37 24 May 2017

Keith Wood ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

When it comes to the British and Irish Lions tours, fans of the different national entities that make up the amalgamated team will take a keener interest in their own compatriots' chances.

The rugby media in the respective nations - be it Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales - take a particular interest in how their own set of players do within the Lions setup and in some cases it can result in partisanship based on national affiliation.

As The Irish Times' rugby correspondent Gerry Thornley said on Off The Ball, "One of the disappointing aspects of covering the last four Lions tours is how increasingly parochial media coverage has become to the point I remember one media room in a midweek and there was an English player in one corner of the room with a huge sizeable chunk of media around him - all English - and there was an Irish player in another corner - all Irish journalists around him - and there was a Welsh player in one corner, and there was a vacant corner where there were no Scots, journalists or players."

It's something former Ireland captain Keith Wood does not like to see as he told Off The Ball, citing the value of unity.

"I hate it. It drives me mad," he said.

"I get that some people aren't enamoured with the Lions and I think that's fine, and some people aren't enamoured with the name British and Irish Lions and that's fine too.

"But for me, when you get out there, once you get on the flight, then you're a Lion. You have to play to that red jersey. You're trying to get rid of all the cliques, you're trying to share stories with other people, get to know other people all the time. You're, after four weeks, playing a test series together with someone that you don't really know. You can't think of yourself as Irish and him as Welsh or English or Scottish. You just can't. The trick for the Lions is that sense of oneness." 

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