Mental weakness cost Scotland stars a place in the Lions squad, says Lewis Moody

Jack Austin
Scotland were hammered at Twickenham as their Six Nations bid imploded: Getty

When Warren Gatland named his 41-man British and Irish Lions squad for the tour of New Zealand this summer, there was not the outrage at the wild decisions many had predicted, but more a general nod of approval.

There was no rogue call for Wales battering ram Jamie Roberts, no dumbfounding exclusion of England twinkle-toes Jonathan Joseph – and also no flurry of the attacking Scotsmen that lit up the Six Nations.

Despite finishing third in the Championship, only two-time player of the tournament Stuart Hogg and winger Tommy Seymour were included, while fifth-placed Wales had 12 of their stars booked onto the plane.

There was no Finn Russell, neither of the Gray brothers and no Greig Laidlaw. And no wonder, believes former England captain and 2005 Lions tourist Lewis Moody, who believes the Scots proved themselves too mentally fragile to tour New Zealand.

“With the Lions there is all this expectation and pressure to perform not just on the pitch but off it as well,” Moody told The Independent. “The spotlight will be on them when they go over there against the best side in rugby with the Lions and it’s a hotbed over there and the pressure will be intensified.

“And I think that’s why the Scottish guys have been left out.”

The now-departed Vern Cotter took his Scotland side to Twickenham knowing a victory would see them in contention for the title on the final round of fixtures.

What happened though was a complete capitulation, with England totting up 61 points and running in seven tries in what can only be described as a demolition.

And while World Cup winner Moody concedes that a Lions coach will always favour players from their own country, he insists it was Scotland’s mental weakness and inability to cope under pressure which cost so many of them a call up.

English Rugby Legend Lewis Moody is a member of The Rugby Force - a grassroots rugby initiative from NatWest and England Rugby which will offer advice and support to community clubs across England as part of NatWest RugbyForce 2017.

“I think there are two things,” he continued. “A national coach will always favour the players he knows as individuals and the ones that are familiar with how he plays. But the second one is how the Scottish players played under pressure.

“You only need to look at their poor performance when under that level of pressure at the cauldron of Twickenham.

“If they’d have won, or put in a better showing then I think we would have seen more Scots included. For me, that is why the Lions selectors went the way they did – because of their inability to deal with pressure in big-match situations.”

Lewis Moody is a member of The NatWest RugbyForce, bringing his playing and coaching experience to help grassroots clubs improve their coaching expertise. To register for a chance to have Lewis join your rugby club, visit www.englandrugby.com/natwestrugbyforce

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