Find out who Warren Gatland has selected for the tour of South Africa
British & Irish Lions Squad 2021
Wales lock Alun Wyn Jones, who has played in every Test on the previous three Lions tours and is rugby’s most-capped player, will captain the squad.
The Lions will play three Tests against the world champions in July and August, with the tourists aiming for a first series win over the Springboks since 1997.
Related: Warren Gatland’s Lions coaching team
Gatland had originally planned to name 36 players but added an extra one to ensure ‘all bases were covered’. There were still big-name omissions, including England forwards Kyle Sinckler and Billy Vunipola as well as Ireland captain Johnny Sexton and lock James Ryan.
The Lions squad 2021 features 11 English players, ten Welshman, eight Irishman and eight Scots. The tally of Scots is the highest since eight were selected for the 1993 tour to New Zealand.
Louis Rees-Zammit, 20, is the youngest player in the squad with captain Jones, 35, the oldest.
British & Irish Lions Squad 2021
Below are the 37 players selected for this year’s Lions tour to South Africa.
Josh Adams (21 Apr 1995/Wales/Cardiff Blues/2018 v Scotland/32)
Stuart Hogg (24 Jun 1992/Scotland/Exeter Chiefs/2012 v Wales/85)
Louis Rees-Zammit (2 Feb 2001/Wales/Gloucester/2020 v France/9)
Duhan van der Merwe (4 Jun 1995/Scotland/Edinburgh/2020 v Georgia/10)
Anthony Watson (26 Feb 1994/England/Bath/2014 v New Zealand/51 (+3 for Lions))
Liam Williams (9 Apr 1991/Wales/Scarlets/2012 v Barbarians/71 (+3 for Lions))
Bundee Aki (7 Apr 1990/Ireland/Connacht/2017 v South Africa/31)
Elliot Daly (8 Oct 1992/England/Saracens/2016 v Ireland/52 (+3 for Lions))
Chris Harris (28 Dec 1990/Scotland/Gloucester/2017 v Samoa/28)
Robbie Henshaw (12 Jun 1993/Ireland/Leinster/2013 v USA/52)
Dan Biggar (16 Oct 1989/Wales/Northampton Saints/2008 v Canada/92)
Owen Farrell (24 Sep 1991/England/Saracens/2012 v Scotland/93 (+4 for Lions))
Finn Russell (23 Sep 1992/Scotland/Racing 92/2014 v USA/55)
Gareth Davies (18 Aug 1990/Wales/Scarlets/2014 v South Africa/62)
Conor Murray (20 Apr 1989/Ireland/Munster/2011 v France/89 (+5 for Lions))
Ali Price (12 May 1993/Scotland/Glasgow Warriors/2016 v Georgia/42)
Luke Cowan-Dickie (20 Jun 1993/England/Exeter Chiefs/2015 v France/31)
Jamie George (20 Oct 1990/England/Saracens/2015 v France/59 (+3 for Lions))
Ken Owens (3 Jan 1987/Wales/Scarlets/2011 v Namibia/82 (+2 for Lions))
Zander Fagerson (19 Jan 1996/Scotland/Glasgow Warriors/2016 v England/38)
Tadhg Furlong (14 Nov 1992/Ireland/Leinster/2015 v Wales/49 (+3 for Lions))
Wyn Jones (26 Feb 1992/Wales/Scarlets/2017 v Tonga/35)
Andrew Porter (16 Jan 1996/Ireland/Leinster/2017 v USA/37)
Rory Sutherland (24 Aug 1992/Scotland/Edinburgh/2016 v Ireland/16)
Mako Vunipola (14 Jan 1991/England/Saracens/2012 v Fiji/67 (+6 for Lions))
Tadhg Beirne (8 Jan 1992/Ireland/Munster/2018 v Australia/22)
Iain Henderson (21 Feb 1992/Ireland/Ulster/2012 v South Africa/63)
Jonny Hill (8 Jun 1994/England/Exeter Chiefs/2020 v Italy/9)
Maro Itoje (28 Oct 1994/England/Saracens/2016 v Italy/48 (+3 for Lions))
Alun Wyn Jones (19 Sep 1985/Wales/Ospreys/2006 v Argentina/148 (+9 for Lions))
Courtney Lawes (23 Feb 1989/England/Northampton Saints/2009 v Australia/87 (+2 for Lions))
Jack Conan (29 Jul 1992/Ireland/Leinster/2015 v Scotland/20)
Tom Curry (15 Jun 1998/England/Sale Sharks/2017 v Argentina/33)
Taulupe Faletau (12 Nov 1990/Wales/Bath/2011 v Barbarians/86 (+4 for Lions))
Sam Simmonds (10 Nov 1994/England/Exeter Chiefs/2017 v Argentina/7)
Justin Tipuric (6 Aug 1989/Wales/Ospreys/2011 v Argentina/85 (+1 for Lions))
Hamish Watson (15 Oct 1991/Scotland/Edinburgh/2015 v Italy/41)
Alan Dymock, Rugby World features editor
The back-five selections in the pack are fascinating. So many experts expected Gatland and his coaches to select four locks, but with six of them here, it stands out that there are three fellas in Beirne, Itoje and Lawes who can play at six as well as in the boiler house.
When it was revealed that Gatland had upped his squad from 36 to 37 overnight many wondered where the extra body went. As he explained, the attrition rate for back-rowers in Africa will be high. So will a wrecker from the lock corps put himself forward as six for the Tests? Their ability to jackal will certainly relieve a group of out-and-out back-rows who may want to fly around more.
From a national representation level, it cannot be underestimated what this will do for Lions-Scots relations. For years now, Scottish fans have formed indifference about the concept, with a younger generation openly wondering what the fuss was about as a paltry number of Scots toured.
Today’s reveal represents the highest number of Scots selected since 1993. No longer does it feel like tokenism; the shrinking of the blue quarter of the badge has been arrested. Watch more and more fans from beyond the wall rekindle or begin an affinity.
Alan Pearey, Rugby World writer
The lack of preparation time means established combinations have never been so important for the Lions. That thread runs throughout the squad.
For example, who better to bring the best out of Finn Russell than his Scotland half-back partner Ali Price. And taking two English hookers plays into the hands of Jonny Hill, who has pipped Ireland’s James Ryan to one of the second-row spots.
As in 2017, Garry Ringrose is a shade unlucky to miss out but Bundee Aki, a surprise choice, will benefit from having Ireland team-mate Robbie Henshaw alongside him in midfield. And should he wish to, Warren Gatland could field an all-Welsh back three of Liam Williams, Josh Adams and Louis Rees-Zammit.
Among the picks particularly welcomed by this writer are Chris Harris for his defensive skills and Sam Simmonds, deservedly given a Test stage after years of outstanding performances for Exeter. Interestingly there are four Chiefs selected and not one Bristol Bear, despite the scintillating rugby produced by Pat Lam’s Premiership table toppers.
But this is a squad built for a different mission. To beat South Africa you must meet fire with fire. The likes of Hill, Iain Henderson and the long absent Courtney Lawes up front, and Aki, Harris and Duhan van der Merwe in the backs, were far from squad shoo-ins but will offer extra physicality alongside some of the frontline names.
Joe Launchbury and George North would surely have been there too but for injuries.
The list of those not selected bodes well for the Lions’ chances of beating the Springboks. If you can afford to leave out the likes of Ryan, Johnny Sexton, Jack Nowell, Josh Navidi, Tomos Williams, Kyle Sinckler, Josh van der Flier, Cian Healy, Jonathan Davies, Jonny Gray and George Ford, not to mention Marcus Smith, Danny Care and Ben Spencer from the club ranks, then what does it tell you about the calibre of the men you have chosen?
That this is a squad dripping with talent and one surely set to give the Boks a run for their money, world champions or not.
Sarah Mockford, Rugby World editor
Two things stood out to me following the squad announcement. One was the centres selected. Physicality – as Alan Pearey mentions above – is always a buzz word when it comes to playing the Springboks and opting for Bundee Aki and Chris Harris over more footballing options like Jonathan Davies, Garry Ringrose and Henry Slade gives a clear indication that the Lions will be looking to match the power of the world champions in midfield.
It should also be noted that Harris is excellent defensively and could well come through to be a key figure in the Test series.
The other significant takeaway for me was the reaction to Alun Wyn Jones appointment as captain. Many seem to be playing down his chances of leading the Lions in the Test series, labelling him more as ‘tour captain’.
Yes, there is no guarantee of him starting against South Africa just because he’s been named 2021 skipper – Warren Gatland has made that clear – but this is a player who has driven standards in any team he’s been part of for the past 15 years. Talk to any of his team-mates and Jones is the one they have to keep pace with – even at the age of 35. His determination, focus and mentality is such that I fully expect him to be captain when the Lions take on the Boks on 24 July.
What do you make of the Lions squad 2021? Email your views to firstname.lastname@example.org
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