The Coming Together of Four Nations
Every four years, Irish, English, Welsh and Scottish fans get to see what their favourite teams combined, can achieve against the best sides in the world. The Southern Hemisphere giants of New Zealand, Australia or South Africa. That is where men like Kyle Sinckler can demonstrate their qualities.
Notably in recent years the gap between the Wallabies and Springboks has begun to narrow. England, Ireland and Scotland currently sit in the top five ranked nations in World Rugby, behind New Zealand at number one and Australia nestling between Ireland and Scotland in fourth.
Northern Hemisphere Hope
With this northern hemisphere International success, the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand (NZ) currently underway, left the four home nations side with more hope than is previous years.
The summer previous Ireland had beaten the All Blacks in Chicago with an impressive 40-point haul. England had achieved successive back-to-back Six Nation’s titles, as well as a three-match series win in Australia. Add in the impressive attacking displays from Scotland, and the seasoned campaigners from previous Lions tour success  and it left a high quality of players to select from.
Filled with potential to challenge the men land of the long white cloud. Players like Sinckler, Jamie George, Maro Itoje and others, to demonstrate those ‘A typical’ skills required.
A Unique, Traditional Rugby Concept
The Lions is a unique concept, very much an old style tour that preceded the turn of rugby to professionalism in the late 1990’s. Meaning it would take careful planning to organize a series win, let alone beat one of the major teams [NZ, Wallabies, Springboks].
In most nations tours players are taken purely on their merit. But for a long tour like this, they are now alongside players who are; for majority of your international career, seen as the enemy. In this instance, the correct mixture of personalities is vital. There is no one type of player, but he must be a consistent performer and hold special qualities, to wear the crest.
A touring side must consist of the most driven and talented players, like Jonny Sexton, the more relaxed and fun individuals like Mako Vunipola and finally younger players still striving to make their mark on the international scene.
Young, Excitable Kyle Sinckler
Kyle Sinckler is just that, a young man who with only eight England caps provides raw potential. But Sinckler is not just an ‘A typical’ man; he’s excited, and not just to play for the Lions, but to meet the Lions.
A fan himself, who can recite the earlier Lions films by heart, who lay on the floor and cried as a child at the 2009 series loss to South Africa. A rugby player who it has been reported, quizzed roommate and Ireland captain Rory Best about what the likes of the great Paul O’Connell and Brian O’Driscoll were like as teammates.
Sinckler is basically a huge Lions fan that happens to also be a professional rugby player….and a pretty impressive one at that. You just have to look at the way he and Maro Itoje celebrated a late turnover against the Crusaders. Jumping and holding each other like fans do; when their country or club win tournaments and leagues. Some may see this as immaturity–players who need to learn to keep a calmer more composed head–but this is exactly the kind of celebration and energy the squad needs.
Seasoned campaigners Alun-Wyn Jones, Jonny Sexton, Owen Farrell and Best could all benefit from having this kind of eagerness and excited mentality around them. After so many seasons of driving yourself to full capacity, players are left in a constant state of motivation and discipline. Fully intent to focus on the task at hand and stay calm in the eye of the storm – an admirable trait and one vital to success under pressure across a career.
But the likes of Sinckler will keep the squad on their toes, making sure the rest of his team mates remember ‘why they are there’. Why what they are doing is still so exciting and important to all the home nations. While he must fit into the system, it helps to push on even further that winning mind set that world class players possess, while on a prolonged, 7 week trip downunder.
A Player to Catch the Eye
To add to Sinckler’s excitement as a young player and fan, his skills and his pace for a tighthead prop are tremendous. Head coach Warren Gatland described the young Lion as “an overweight back”. The clean breaks and handling skills the Harlequin player showed, particularly in the Maori All Black’s and New Zealand Barbarians sides matches, were something special.
Those attributes–plus his youthful exuberance–lifts the momentum of the team and, importantly the fans supporting it. Feeding the players with on-pitch gain line success, and off-field noise and crucially, support from their fan base. All key elements in helping convert an away match on the other side of the world, to a ‘home stadium feel’. With a sea of red at their back, and a force of nature at the front of their pack like Kyle Sinckler, is the strength of Lions on this years adventure downunder.
“Main photo credit”