Borders rugby stars Rory Sutherland and Stuart Hogg picked for British and Irish Lions’ summer tour
Borderers Stuart Hogg and Rory Sutherland have been called up by rugby’s British and Irish Lions for their tour of South Africa this summer.
It’s Scotland captain Hogg’s third call-up, after taking part in 2013’s tour of Australia and 2017’s trip to New Zealand, and Sutherland’s first.
The two former Hawick players are among eight Scottish players in head coach Warren Gatland’s 37-strong squad, captained by Welshman Alun Wyn Jones.
Their national team boss, fellow Borderer Gregor Townsend, will also be there, the former Gala star having been recruited by Gatland as part of his coaching team.
It’s the second Lions tour in a row to feature two Borderers as Exeter Chiefs star Hogg, 28, was joined by Jed-Forest legend Greig Laidlaw, now playing for NTT Communications, alias the Shining Arcs, in Ichikawa in Japan, in 2017. Hogg was forced to pull out before the test matches started after getting injured in a provincial game, however.
The current Scotland skipper was the region’s only representative in 2013, though former Border Reivers player Ryan Grant, now head coach at Glasgow Academicals, was also selected.
Altogether, he’s made seven appearance for the Lions, five in 2013 and two four years later, to add to his 85 Scottish caps.
Sutherland, capped 16 times for Scotland, is the 13th ex-Green to be called up by the Lions, following in the footsteps of – as well as Hogg – Bob Burnet, Willie Burnet, Doug Davies, Colin Deans, Derrick Grant, Alex Laing, Hugh McLeod, Jim Renwick, Tony Stanger, Alan Tomes and Willie Welsh.
This tour’s eight-strong Scottish contingent is the biggest for over three decades.
Also selected for the first time, like Sutherland, 27, are his Edinburgh team-mates Hamish Watson and Duhan van der Merwe, along with Glasgow Warriors’ Zander Fagerson and Ali Price and Gloucester’s Chris Harris.
Racing 92’s Finn Russell gets a second call-up, having joined the 2017 tour as a late addition.
Scottish Rugby’s chief executive officer, Mark Dodson, said: “I am delighted eight Scotland players have been selected today in the British and Irish Lions squad.
“This is the biggest contingent that Scotland has had in the initial touring party since nine were named for the 1989 tour to Australia, which was captained by Gavin Hastings.
“The competitiveness we have shown throughout the last two Six Nations Championship campaigns is now underlined by today’s announcement.
“It affirms we are producing players to compete alongside some of the best in the world, and I warmly congratulate all the Scottish players, and the whole 37-man squad, on their selection.”
New Zealander Gatland, 57, added: “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 performance 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.”
The squad will meet at a training camp in Jersey prior to a warm-up fixture against Japan at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium on Saturday, June 26.
They will then head out to South Africa to play eight matches in July and August, including three tests against current world champions the Springboks.
Ireland, like the Scots, contribute eight players, with England taking the lion’s share with 11 and 2021 Six Nations champions Wales one behind them.
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