Eight Scots named in squad for Lions tour to South Africa

Biggest representation on a tour since nine players went to Australia in 1989

Stuart Hogg and Rory Sutherland will represent Hawick and Scotland on this summer's Lions tour. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Stuart Hogg and Rory Sutherland will represent Hawick and Scotland on this summer's Lions tour. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

SCOTLAND will have its biggest representation on a British and Irish Lions tour since 1989 during this summer’s trip to South Africa, with eight players being named in Warren Gatland’s squad at lunchtime today.

Centre Chris Harris, full-back Stuart Hogg, scrum-half Ali Price, stand-off Finn Russell and winger Duhan van Der Merwe are the five Scottish backs who have made the cut. Tight-head prop Zander Fagerson, loose-head prop Rory Sutherland and flanker Hamish Watson are the three forwards.

Gatland ended up naming a 37-man squad, consisting of 11 Englishmen, eight Irishmen and 10 Welshmen, as well as the eight Scots. Wales second-row Alun Wyn Jones was confirmed as squad captain on his fourth tour.

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Notable omissions include Irishmen Johnny Sexton, Garry Ringrose, James Ryan and CJ Stander, Welshman Jonathan Davies, and Englishmen Billy Vunipola, Kyle Sinckler, Manu Tuilagi and Jonny May.

2021 British and Irish Lions squad –


Back three: Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby, Wales), Elliot Daly (Saracens, England), Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs, Scotland), Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby, Wales), Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland), Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England) and Liam Williams (Scarlets, Wales).

Centres: Bundee Aki (Connacht Rugby, Ireland), Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby, Scotland) and Robbie Henshaw (Leinster Rugby, Ireland).

Stand-offs: Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales), Owen Farrell (Saracens, England), Finn Russell (Racing 92, Scotland).

Scrum-halves: Gareth Davies (Scarlets, Wales), Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland) and Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland).


Loose-head props: Wyn Jones (Scarlets, Wales), Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland), Mako Vunipola (Saracens, England).

Hookers: Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, England), Jamie George (Saracens, England) and Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales).

Tight-head props: Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) and Andrew Porter (Leinster Rugby, Ireland).

Second-row: Iain Henderson (Ulster Rugby, Ireland), Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs, England), Maro Itoje (Saracens, England), Alun Wyn Jones CAPTAIN (Ospreys, Wales) and Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England).

Back-row: Tadhg Beirne (Munster Rugby, Ireland), Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland), Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England), Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby, Wales), Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, England), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys, Wales), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland).

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About David Barnes 3387 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. Wee shoutout for the Borders. 1/18th of the Lions with about 1/600th of the population. I mean, it’s good to see two Borderers in the team and fine players they are.

    Those away wins were monkeys off the national team’s back and fully deserved. Can’t argue with calling up 8 Scottish players.

  2. Yippee! 8 Scots in the 2021 Lions squad for SA. They’ll come back from the experience improved as players and as individuals.

    Only 5 of that number currently play in Scotland, and one of them, with zero claims to being Scottish apart from residency, has previously represented SA at various levels.

    Just 2 of the 5 are products of the Scottish youth / development systems, while only 4 of the 8 did so.


    • Maybe all the publicity that Scottish rugby players are representing a touring side will encourage interest in the sport.

    • “Just 2 of the 5 are products of the Scottish youth / development systems, while only 4 of the 8 did so.”

      So 3 more than last tour, progress has been made, whats your point? Complain if there is not further progress by the 2025 lions tour to Aus, 4 is a fantastic achievement from where we have been since before 2000.

      Look to 2025 and it looks promising already for what the SRU youth pathways could offer to the lions (Hogg, Russell, Ritchie, Fagerson, Sutherland, Cummings, Gray, Dobie?) probably missing a few others.

      Does more need to be done? Yes, but progress is being made.

  3. Ritchie and Gray good enough to be Lions but in most competitive positions. Navidi and Ryan will also feel sore to miss out. I think Jonny Hill is big surprise as I’ve thought he’s looked poor for England.

    Overall though an outstanding return, proving the doubters and the professional miserablists wrong. Let’s just hope some of our boys get in the test team and make decisive impacts on the tour. It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to enjoy a Lions tour.

  4. Well that’s a good result for the Scottish guys, Price a surprise but his 6N stats have been really good, Harris also has benefited from his 6N this year, especially against France, and his defense work has been outstanding. I’m pleased and surprised for Zander and VDM but great they are there.
    My two well that’s a surprise guys are Aki and Mako and pleased for Sam Simmonds, and my sorry you did not make it guys Gray, Ryan ,Davis . Not surprised by Sexton’s omission his injuries make him a liability and the saffer’s would have battered him and Ringrose has been poor this year.
    Still to many English for me but the many pundits will be forced to eat humble pie with regards the size of the Scottish contingent, good.
    Lets hope all the Scottish guys make the plane.

  5. First of all, well done to the lads that have been handed tickets for the Plane, including the other Home Nations, however some of the selections have raised eyebrows.
    Unlucky for Jamie Ritchie and Jonny Gray it’s reasonable to suggest that on any other tour they would have been carded.
    One of the mysteries for me is the selection of Mako Vunipola who in his last competitive game in the Green King IPA Championship against Nottingham a Club that has a played 7 lost 7 had the Saracens Director of Rugby kicking the stand in frustration at his handling, and by all accounts didn’t exactly annihilate his opposite number, and he didn’t look particularly fit in the Six- Nations either.
    Another omission that is a bit of a surprise for me is Danny Care who has been playing some excellent rugby at Harlequins recently and I’m a bit surprised that Ali Price seems to have got the nod in front of him, as an aside would George Horne have been a better bet than either of them with his 7’s experience and the hard grounds in SA? Who knows.
    No sure about Farrell, Itoje and Aki and their history regarding offering up penalties. Surprised nobody mention the Captaincy and Alan Wyn Jones: Some comments already in Rugby Press that although he is Captain he isn’t necessarily guaranteed his Test place.
    Memories of Mike Campbell-Lamerton on the Lions tour to NZ when he declared himself injured saying he didn’t think he could guarantee the full 80 minutes and that gave Willie John McBride his Lions cap before his Irish honour.
    McBride lost a lot of respect from myself and others when he declared ‘the Captain can’t be dropped’ and proceeded to keep Colin Deans on the bench whilst Fitzgerald continued to delight the New Zealand team and fans by remaining in place as the test hooker [sic] in the days when Hookers Hooked Deans took the recently incumbent NZ hooker to the cleaners with half a dozen or more against the head. Fitzgerald wasn’t even considered the 3rd best Hooker in the 5 Nations. From memory there was a Scottish Prop with Deans on the Wednesday side and he didn’t get a shout either.
    So I am sure the Scots contingent will not let anyone down, whether the Saracens players can raise themselves from competing in the English 2nd Division to International rugby for the Lions in the space of a month remains to be seen.
    There is a final thought, make sure Gregor Townsend reminds Hogg to keep well away from Conor Murray’s elbow, and of course, other opinions are available.

    • Danny Care is not even remotely competitive at Nine. Price is so far ahead of him it’s barely worth discussing.

  6. Well done to the Scottish coaching team, they appear to have Gatland’s ear. The Welsh contingency you cant argue with though Navidi can feel hard done to. Ireland possibly represents that they are in a bit of a transition, but 11 from England given that they recently got humped by South Africa is a bit rich. Ritchie had plenty of time to tour in four years time and I wouldn’t be surprised by then if he isn’t pushing for the captaincy.

  7. Players selected by club.

    Saracens (5) Vunipola, George, Itoje, Farrell, Daly
    Exeter (4) LCD, Hill, Simmonds, Hogg
    Leinster (4) Porter, Furlong, Conan, Henshaw
    Edinburgh (3) Sutherland, Watson, DVDM
    Scarlets (4) Jones, Owens, Davies,Williams
    Gloucester (2) Harris, Rees-Zammit
    Bath (2) Faletau, Watson
    Glasgow (2) Fagerson, Price
    Ospreys (2) Alun Wyn Jones, Tipuric
    Northampton (2) Lawes, Biggar
    Munster (2) Beirne, Murray
    Ulster (1) Henderson
    Sale (1) Curry
    Racing (1) Russell
    Connacht (1) Aki
    Blues (1) Adam

    Is that the highest representation in a single tour that a championship team has had?

  8. Delighted and surprised to see so many Scots in the squad. I suppose that winning away from home mentality has to have had an influence on the selection, as well as form.

    A bit baffled by how many English are in the squad. Lawes and Vunipola? I guess Gats is looking to bring in a big carry & defensive mentality. But glad to see Simmonds get a well deserved berth despite Jones’ selection issues with him.

    In terms of the Irish I can see this one from both sides. The Irish will be raging about the omission of Ryan and Sexton. But I think that Sexton has had his day. He has had too many concussions (4 serious ones in the last 2 years that we know of) in the recent past to warrant a first squad inclusion. He’s now had over 30 concussions throughout his career according to that French doctor who has experience of him.

    Ryan I am a bit baffled by. He is a stand out player for me. Aki has been brought in clearly as a defensively combatant player. But the rest are no surprise apart from Conan. I think from a ball carrying perspective he will be huge. Does it every week for Leinster.

    Overall as a nation we have to be content with that amount of inclusion. But lets not forget…there will be injuries, and replacements coming in. So potential chances for Richie and Gray.

    • I think there have been some concerns over Ryans concussion issues, but if your looking at form over the past year… Beirne and Henderson have been outstanding, Ryan has somewhat not hit the peaks of his earlier years, still a good player i thought would make it though.

      Richie and Gray can feel unlucky, you have to think if a hooker gets injured then one of the Scottish boys is in with a good shout, Maitland can also feel a bit unlucky, perhaps he would have made it if not for the Saracens debacle?

  9. I’m not here purely to say I told you so but that is certainly a side benefit.

    Joking aside, when are Scottish fans going to try to see our players objectively? We’re neither terrible nor outstanding. We’re consistently competitive amongst our peers and highly credible against the best in the world. It would be odd not to have similar numbers to the other nations.

    If anything, Ritchie and Gray should feel hard done by. Lawes is versatile at 6 but Gray offers more as a pure second-row and has a proven partnership with Hill. Jamie has already shown big match quality in crunch tests. Hopefully they get called up.

    • I think the majority of people were looking at this objectively and predicting 6 to 9 scots, it’s just a shame a few of our own try to bring Scottish players down for views, cmon now lads grow up.

  10. Cant believe the surprise at Harris. With Tandy as defence coach and Harris being his defensive leader, he was an absolute cert to tour.

  11. Ali Price always a great shout once Ben Youngs pulled out. More surprised to see Davies ahead of Tomas Williams. Sad for Gray and Ritchie who in another era would walk in but just too much competition. Harris deserves it 100% and I think will start at 13 in the Test side. A few surprises for sure, but none of them Scottish!

  12. Simply cannot help but feel a little bit of schadenfreude at the selection of Russell at Sexton’s expense.

    Really thrilled to see so many Scots make the cut.

  13. Well that’s surprised most pundits and fans.

    Great that we have 8 picks though they still need to get on the plane.

    Don’t get the Aki selection though?

  14. Pressure is on to deliver as the other home nations will feel a tad surprised (to say the least) about some of the Scottish selections.
    Price being on tour baffles me. I’d have taken Care, Gibson Park, Tomos Williams.
    Sutherland is injured and its a shoulder…just before we go against the Boks scrum. I really hope he is fine and plays like he has been BUT I think Healy would have been a better, safer call to last the tour.
    Feel for Slade, Ryan, Ringrose, May, Gray and Stander.

    • “Price being on tour baffles me. I’d have taken Care, Gibson Park, Tomos Williams”

      Why? Price has spent the last year leading his team to wins away to Wales, England and France during games when he has lost his 10 to injury, and the sin bin in every one of them.

      In 2 of those games in particular he bossed his team around the park numerous times to take the sting out the game and offer his side control to ice those games and see them out

      None of those mentioned have performances even close to that level in the last 12 months.

    • Taking Care over almost any other Nine in the 6N, including young and relatively untested options like Hardy, would be ridiculous.

      As for the ‘pressure being on’ – nonsense. Every single player selected is there because they deserve to be. Those they’re touring alongside know that every bit as much as the Scotland lads who’ve been selected. After all, it’s against them they’ve been dominant.

      Slade blows hot and cold; Ryan struggles against big and physical opponents; Ringrose nothing but hype for months now; Stander was never going.

      May is unlucky to miss out. Gray needs to show more bite. He’s getting there at Exeter. But there’s still room to improve further. Both players could find themselves on tour at a later point in time.

  15. Very nice selection, id have definitely taken 6 but 8 is great. The two that surprised me a little were Harris and Price but fair play to both. Zander in, Sutherland in absolutely. Watson, Hogg, Russell no question. Cant really say Van Der Merwe is lucky to be there, he had a stellar six nations and is a beast ball in hand

  16. Delighted with this squad and the scottish representation, just goes to show how much of a turnaround has happend the past year with this team.

    You could argue Gray or Ryan over Hill or Lawes, but i can see why they went for a different style of player. Gray/Ritchie/Redpath/Maitland hopefully not to far down the pecking order when injuries occur.

    • In general I think the squad is pretty good. I’d have chosen an extra backrow – Ritchie or Navidi – instead of Hill in the 2nd row. I’m really not sold on Josh Adams and would have gone for Maitland or Keith Earls (who is an annoying so-and-so but has been outstanding for the past 2 years).

      Whilst Harris and Henshaw certainly deserve to go, the centre options (these two plus Farrell, Aki and possibly Daly) don’t scream of creativity. It makes you wonder if Redpath might have got the nod if he hadn’t been out with injury – there’s not going to be a creative plan B in the midfield with this selection.

  17. Definitely a few surprises in there!

    I would have gone for one of Slade/Davies/Ringrose at 13 and NONE are going to tour, very interesting.

    No Ryan, no Sexton will definitely raise a few eye brows in Ireland.

    Jonny Hill, Sam Simmonds, Ali Price and Bundee Aki absolutely the bolters here.

    From a Scottish perspective obviously happy to see 8 players named, I would have picked 6 myself but even better to have 8. Hogg, Russell, Van Der Merwe, Sutherland, Fagerson, Watson absolutely all should have been picked for me. Was surprised to see both Price and Harris there too but good luck to all of them!


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