Eight Scotland internationalists including Rory Sutherland and Chris Harris named in British & Irish Lions squad for South Africa tour
The high representation is a vindication of Gregor Townsend’s side’s impressive Six Nations campaign, which saw Scotland record away victories over England and France in the same season for the first time since 1926. This is the highest number of Scots to be picked for a Lions tour in the professional era.
There are five backs and three forwards from Scotland in the squad which contains 37 players, one more than originally planned.
As expected, Scotland captain Stuart Hogg and star stand-off Finn Russell have been selected and they have been joined by outside centre Chris Harris, scrum-half Ali Price and winger Duhan van der Merwe, who finished his first Six Nations campaign as the tournament’s top try scorer.
In the forwards, openside Hamish Watson is picked along with Scotland props Zander Fagerson and Rory Sutherland. The latter is currently nursing a shoulder injury but makes the squad for the three-Test tour.
Lions head coach Warren Gatland had challenged Scotland’s players to win big matches away from home if they wanted to be considered for the tour and they responded.
Gatland stuck to his word and his selection is a far cry from the 2017 Lions tour when he picked just two Scots – Hogg and Tommy Seymour – in his original squad for the trip to New Zealand.
Other notable inclusions in his 2021 tour party are Sam Simmonds of England and Ireland’s Bundee Aki, but there is no place for Johnny Sexton, the Irish captain and stand-off.
Wales lock Alun Wyn Jones will captain the squad in South Africa. The 35-year-old Ospreys forward led Wales to the Guinness Six Nations title in March. Jones, who embarks on a fourth successive Lions tour, has clocked up a world-record 157 Tests for Wales and the Lions.
Gatland said of his group selected for the tour: “We believe we’ve picked a squad capable of winning a Test series in South Africa.
“Selecting a Lions squad is never easy and, in many ways, this has been the most challenging selection I have been involved in. Over the course of the last three weeks the coaches and I have rigorously debated each position. We saw some outstanding performances in the recent Six Nations, so competition for places has been tough with some incredibly tight calls to make.
“However, we are very happy with the squad we have assembled and look forward to meeting up in Jersey in just over a month’s time to start our preparation to take on the World Champions. We've left out some very talented players which gives an indication to the strength of this squad and we know how important that stand-by list will be.
“Being selected for a Lions Tour is the greatest honour for a British and Irish player and I congratulate everyone named today.”
British and Irish Lions squad for summer tour of South Africa: Josh Adams (Wales), Bundee Aki (Ireland), Dan Biggar (Wales), Elliot Daly (England), Gareth Davies (Wales), Owen Farrell (England), Chris Harris (Scotland), Robbie Henshaw (Ireland), Stuart Hogg (Scotland), Conor Murray (Ireland), Ali Price (Scotland), Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales), Finn Russell (Scotland), Duhan Van Der Merwe (Scotland), Anthony Watson (England), Liam Williams (Wales), Tadhg Beirne (Ireland), Jack Conan (Ireland), Luke Cowan-Dickie (England), Tom Curry (England), Zander Fagerson (Scotland), Taulupe Faletau (Wales), Tadhg Furlong (Ireland), Jamie George (England), Iain Henderson (Ireland), Jonny Hill (England), Maro Itoje (England), Wyn Jones (Wales), Courtney Lawes (England), Ken Owens (Wales), Andrew Porter (Ireland), Sam Simmonds (England), Rory Sutherland (Scotland), Justin Tipuric (Wales), Mako Vunipola (England), Hamish Watson (Scotland), Alun Wyn Jones (Wales, capt).