Let’s hope the Western Force’s decision to field a weak side against the British & Irish Lions tomorrow is not the start of a depressing pattern that could seriously devalue the whole tour of Australia.
The Super 15 franchise have picked a team with just four or five regulars in it to front up to Warren Gatland’s tourists for their first game on Aussie soil.
That in itself is a disappointment.
It should be an honour for clubs to host a team that visits their shores just once every 12 years.
The Lions’ history is riddled with stories of hard-hitting games against the provincial sides of Australia, South Africa and New Zealand and sides like the Force should view the fixture as an opportunity to make their mark on the Lions’ famous history.
The Force have a Super 15 game against the Waratahs on Sunday and head coach Michael Foley said he had one eye on that fixture.
If his side were fighting for a place in the play-offs, maybe you could understand that.
But the Force are 13th out of 15 with a couple of weeks to go. Their season was over weeks ago.
What’s more worrying about the devaluing of this fixture is that it could be start of a trend that affects the whole tour.
What if the likes of the Brumbies, the Reds and the Waratahs make the same decision to field weakened sides against the tourists?
Maybe the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) could step in to make sure that doesn’t happen and that the Lions get a chance to properly test themselves before the three Test matches against the Wallabies?
But, then again, maybe that’s exactly what the ARU would like to happen anyway.
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