DO’C Gives A Detailed Insight Into The 2005 Lions Tour That’s Both Fascinating & Hilarious
An incredible insight into the now infamous 2005 Lions tour of New Zealand.
The 2005 Lions tour of New Zealand will live long in the memory. Led by Sir Clive Woodward and captained by Brian O’Driscoll, the Lions headed to New Zealand full of confidence following England’s World Cup win and Wales’ Grand Slam heroics.
Woodward brought an unprecedented 44 players along with a further 26 backroom staff and decided to separate his Test team from his midweek squad. The tour is also infamous for the Brian O’Driscoll spear tackle, but probably even more so for the All Blacks 3-0 whitewash.
The Lions didn’t just lose the series, they were absolutely battered in every game. It was an embarrassment and it’s probably why this summer’s tour is so important. The 2017 Lions need to restore some pride in New Zealand this summer.
One man who was on the tour in 2005 is Munster and Ireland legend Donnacha O’Callaghan, who has offered up an incredible insight into the infamous tour in a brilliant interview with The Telegraph. O’Callaghan was shocked he was included to begin with.
“I watched the team announcement on Sky and didn’t think I was getting in. When my name came up I leapt around the house. When I stopped I was in the back garden. It was brilliant, special. I went off to training that day and by the time I came back my house was hopping. There was a party going on.”
Reflecting on the tour itself, O’Callaghan reveals how the Test and midweek teams were completely separated.
“We called ourselves the Midweek Massive. We had a hand sign we could make, going “MWM”. Any time the Midweek Massive were on a flight there was cries going out: “If we crash would anyone care?” Or, “Does Clive know we’re even here?” There was a kind of chip on the shoulder but I actually think the management of that squad did a great job.
“I definitely felt they left us to express ourselves as opposed to the Test squad, who were being maybe dictated to. Being involved in the midweek team was so good, it was such a brilliant environment and that had an awful lot to do with Gareth Jenkins and Ian McGeechan, who ran those teams. I think they got the vibe right.
They even put the two teams on on different islands.
“We were in the South Island and the lads were preparing for the first Test in the North Island, and we had people coming out to watch a session and they were saying to us: “Where’s Jonny, where’s Drico, where’s Paulie, Will Greenwood?” And we’re going: “We don’t know either!”
O’Callaghan was eventually called into the Test squad, which he discovered was an entirely different environment to the ‘Midweek Massive.’
“I got called into the Test squad and I couldn’t believe how little fun there was in any part of the training sessions. I remember we were warming up and I was joking around and Paulie [O’Connell] gave me a rap on the knuckles, saying: “We are preparing for a Test match here, Donners.” I was there going: “It’s Monday, Paulie.” I think it was a pressure cooker for some lads from minute one and that led to them probably not enjoying the tour as much as some of the other guys did. I absolutely loved it!”
Fascinating insight from the Worcester man that’s both concerning and hilarious. When you hear stories like this it’s easy to see why the Lions were absolutely smashed by the All Blacks. A terrible way to manage your squad. It certainly gives you hope for this summer as the current squad already seem way more relaxed and connected.