June International Tours

British & Irish rugby in rude health : Williams


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Wales star Shane Williams says that he believes that British and Irish Rugby is in rude health ahead of this year’s Lions tour to South Africa.

While many Welsh players Lions chances have been reduced after the team went from Grand Slam winners to finishing in fourth place Williams is almost certain to feature on the tour.

It is widely expected that Ireland will contribute a significant portion of the players numbers given their Six Nations Grand Slam.

“Rugby in Britain and Ireland is probably the strongest it has ever been,” Wales wing Williams told PA Sport.

“We’ve got some great players and some great teams and it is going to be a difficult selection process.

“The rugby is strong – and it is going to have to be to go to South Africa and play the world champions in their back yard.”

“I would love to be a part of it.” said the IRB players of the year winner.

“There are a few games left with the Ospreys and we will have to wait and see. It’s an anxious time for a lot of the boys.

“Hopefully, there will be a lot of players from Wales and Ireland going on the tour.”

At the start of the Six Nations England had almost been written off for contributing players to the Lions tour but as England scored the most tries and the most points in the tournament a number of English players are now in contention.

“The Lions is wide open.” said Williams.

“There are a lot of boys in the championship who have hit form at the right time and they will be putting their hands up for this tour.

“No-one’s place is guaranteed as yet and we are just going to have to wait and see.”

“It is completely out of the players’ hands.”

Going into the Six Nations it was expected that Wales would contribute the largest player numbers but that is now not expected to be the case as this Wales finished in fourth place.

It is the seventh time in 10 seasons that Wales, unbeaten champions last year, have finished outside the tournament’s top three.

Lions coach Ian McGeechan said shortly after he was appointed for the tour that he would be looking at consistency in player performances.



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