I am ridiculously excited for 8:35am on Saturday 8th July. Our British & Irish Lions take on the All Blacks in the deciding test of the tour of New Zealand level at 1-1.
The Irish coffees, IPA and Bacon sandwiches will be in full flow and I will be glued to the TV earning a small hangover by 12.30 that afternoon!
There is a lot I feel we learn from and relate to with sporting achievements and performances. Maybe that is what makes the Lions Tours so much more personal to me.
The Lions are a band of misfits, individually class but collectively an unknown entity. The only constant in their side is their endeavour and the ‘fight to the death’ ethos they adopt. The hearts of Lions.
The All Blacks are a masterful side, one of the greatest teams we will ever see in a sporting context.
To give some insight to those that don’t know how massive this task is, in Auckland where the final test will be played, The All Blacks have; Played 37. Won 37. Zero losses. None. Zilch. Won Two World Cups, in 1987 and 2011, the trophies of both have been lifted by New Zealand captains David Kirk and Richie McCaw there.
So that is no defeats in rugby's professional era, which started in 1995. Frankly, ridiculous.
And just to add a timeline - Maro Itoje was not born, Bill Clinton was in the White House, Tony Blair had just become Labour leader and 'Love is All Around' by Wet Wet Wet was the No. 1 record in the UK charts the last time New Zealand lost a rugby match in Auckland
On paper, the Lions have absolutely no right as a part time team, thrown together for 2 months, to get anywhere close to a test win. Let alone a potential series win... but that is exactly what the Lions are on the brink of achieving.
I believe team make-up and culture shows more in a Lions tour than any other sporting occasion. Leadership is crucial, Read, A.Smith, AWJ, Warburton & Farrell are some of the greatest sporting leaders on the planet, leading from the front with tactical guile and commitment. Barrett, Murray & Sexton are the highly intelligent strategists who set the tone and dictate play without the need to be flashy, promoting the "all for one" ethos.
The likes of Daly, Watson, Naholo, Dagg & Williams are the flair players. These guys have ridiculous pace and always there at exactly the right moment to break that gain line time & time again. While always defending as part of the unit.
Obviously I have missed a few other players but these are two teams who are drilled to near perfection with the final stress test on Saturday morning. Team DNA and culture is vital and it would be interesting to see what others take from occasions like this. It is exactly the same DNA in building a team in a working environment, maybe this is what makes rugby so relate-able.
Who is going to win my head says the Blacks my heart Lions. What do you guys think?
One last thing to add…If Maro Itoje scored a 4 in the Kiwi press after last weekend… let’s just see what happens when he has a 5/6 out of 10 on Saturday!
Come on the boys LIONS, LIONS, LIONS
It is a winner-take-all, it is a pressure‑cooker situation, just like the week leading into the World Cup final in 2011. And Auckland is going to be buzzing. On Thursday there is a parade for the America’s Cup – there is going to be huge excitement for that – and then the sea of red will start coming in from Wellington. It is going to be a really pressured situation but it is something that the All Blacks will be used to and I think that gives them the edge.