Jonathan Davies, Alun Wyn Bevan con The Greatest Lions XV Ever
Who are the 15 best players ever to have represented the British & Irish Lions? Once every four years, mortal rugby enemies become comrades in arms as the elite international players of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales combine to create one team to take on the giants of the southern hemisphere. That team is the British and Irish Lions. It is on Lions tours, to New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, that lasting reputations are forged in the heat of battle. It is where good players become great players. But who are the greatest of the great? Who are the fifteen best players ever to have represented the Lions? Was Willie John McBride better than Martin Johnson? Was Barry John better than Johnny Wilkinson? Was anyone better than Gareth Edwards? As incisive and decisive as he was on the pitch, Jonathan Davies has the answer to all these questions and more.
The raison dtre of this beautifully produced volume is encapsulated in the opening blurb: every four years, rugby enemies become comrades as the top internationals of the home nations combine to take on the giants of the southern hemisphere. But who are the greatest of the great?Who better than Jonathan Davies to attempt to answer that question? A legend both on and off the field, he examines the bragging rights of Lions who occupied the various positions. In an illuminating foreword, Peter Jackson reminds us of the way Davies was deprived of being the No. 1 fly half for the 1986 series against the Springboks, following the four home unions decision to boycott South Africa in view of its apartheid regime. Those who missed out played in a match organised against the Rest of the World XV. But Davies was injured. Then came his decision to head north. Davies, together with Alun Wyn Bevan, examines the candidates' position by position. He makes a valid point in his introduction, noting that he, not having been a Lion, may lend a greater objectivity to his selections. He bases his choices on individual performances and ultimate success achieved in a Lions jersey.A chapter is dedicated to each position. Full-backs, he claims, are a different breed today. Wingers are individuals with their own special tricks. As for centres, so endless was the list of superstars that he could have commissioned a volume consisting only of midfield players. As for the No. 10 position, Davies accepts that he is pretty well-placed to venture an opinion. Who would argue? As for the scrum half position there is no contest. One stands out. And so we come to the props. Davies concedes that for an outside half to pass judgement on a front-row forward demands some cheek! As for the hooker, he is, says Davies, different from all the rest. Choosing the second row pair is another headache chapter, he admits. As for the next position, rugby fans all seem to know what it takes to be a great No. 8. Then the wing forwards. Davies admits that he spent his union career trying to escape them.This book is a must in both content and presentation for any discerning rugby fan. I have deliberately refrained from naming Daviess chosen XV. Enough to note as a taster that six of them are Welsh. Lyn Ebenezer It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council. Gellir defnyddio'r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru. -- Welsh Books Council
Jonathan Davies is one of world rugby's best known personalities. For Neath, Llanelli and Wales, he was in the great tradition of Welsh outside halves, the dynamic embodiment of flair, guile and vision. He was odds-on favourite to be the Lions Test no. 10 in 1989, but his dramatic decision to 'go north' a few months before their tour to Australia that year denied Davies the place on the world stage which would have seen him ranked with Cliff Morgan, Barry John and Phil Bennett. That stage was soon his, however, because as a rugby league player he scaled the heights of the game with Widnes, Warrington, Canterbury Bulldogs, North Queensland Cowboys, Wales and Great Britain. Since retiring, he has been in great demand as a broadcaster, hosting shows on BBC1 and S4C, and providing quick-witted insight as a summarizer and pundit on international match days. Jonathan Davies was awarded an MBE in 1996 and OBE in 2015.