Borderers Stuart Hogg and Rory Sutherland being tipped to claim places in Lions' test match sides
It’s been 20 years since a Scot last began a test match for the British and Irish Lions and even longer since a Borderer did so, but Hawick’s Stuart Hogg and Rory Sutherland are being tipped to end that long lack of representation in the tourists’ starting line-ups.
Kelso’s Alan Tait and Gala’s Gregor Townsend, currently with the Lions as their attack coach, were the last Borderers to feature in test match starting XVs for the touring side back in June 1997, both playing in 25-16 and 18-15 victories against South Africa.
Alongside them in those line-ups, and in the final test of that tour, a 35-16 win for the hosts, was Tom Smith, and he was the last Scot to begin a test game for the multinational side.
That was four years later, in July 2001 in Australia, with the London-born 49-year-old featuring in a squad captained by Martin Johnson and with Graham Henry as head coach.
Hogg, 29, looked set to claim a starting place for the Lions’ test side in New Zealand in 2017, his second tour, but had to drop out of the trip after getting injured in a warm-up game.
Now, though, both he and Sutherland, 28, after making his debut for the Lions against Japan on Saturday at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium, are being tipped to land test match spots in South Africa.
Hogg was unavailable for that game as he was playing for his club side, Exeter Chiefs, that day but joined the squad to fly out to South Africa the day after.
“Certainly Stuart’s a stick-on for the test team and I think they’d be hard pushed not to select Rory too,” said Garry Douglas, director of rugby at Hawick.
Ian Notman, senior playing convener at Biggar, the club Sutherland left Hawick for in 2012, agrees that the loosehead prop deserves a starting place alongside Hogg in a test team, saying: He’s really competitive, and on Saturday especially he did everything that was asked of him.
“He was given a chance to show he could do a job and is worth a place in matchday squad of 23 against the Springboks, and even if he doesn’t get a starting place, he proved he’s there or thereabouts.”
Kelso’s Ross Ford was the last Borderer to play in a Lions test team, making an appearance from the bench 37 minutes into a 28-9 victory against South Africa in July 2009. The 37-year-old was the only Scot to play a test for the Lions that summer.
Prior to Hogg’s appearances in provincial games in Australia in 2013, the last ex-Hawick player to turn out for the Lions was Tony Stanger, now 53, in July 1997.
The Lions’ next game after their 28-10 victory against Japan, their first-ever match in Scotland, is against Emirates in Johannesburg this Saturday, July 3.
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