Lions left licking wounds

ANYONE doubting the physicality of modern-day rugby union have only to look at the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa as witness to the brutal demands made on players' bodies.

ANYONE doubting the physicality of modern-day rugby union have only to look at the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa as witness to the brutal demands made on players' bodies.

After Saturday's second Test, lost 28-25 to the Springboks, four Lions ended up in hospital with three ruled out of the third Test at Ellis Park.

Included among those were Brian O'Driscoll (concussion), and Welsh prop duo Gethin Jenkins (broken cheekbone) and Adam Jones, who suffered a dislocated shoulder after a dangerous Bakkies Botha charge.

Speaking after last weekend's Test, Lions head coach Ian McGeechan admitted that he winced at the ferocity of impacts, even on the training pitch.

"If I get near half the stuff they do I think it looks too brutal for me," said McGeechan. "But it's intensity. You've got to play in a Lions Test to understand the level of commitment that goes into them."

O'Driscoll joins a long list of players who have had their tour cut short because of injury.

Collisions have been the order of the day, not least Botha's controversial ruck-clearing of Adam Jones, something the Springbok coaching staff remain adamant was not illegal or malicious.

Assistant coach Dick Muir said on Tuesday: "We realise it's a tough game. We want it physical but we know where the line is. There's still a lot of sportsmanship out there. It's still a very special game." - Sapa-AFP

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