Lions head coach Warren Gatland. Pic: Getty Images.

Unconscious Bias? Me? In Lions Selection? You Must Be Thinking Of The English, Scots Or Irish

“Pick your own” is normally about fruit and veg, but when it’s Lions year it means something more taxing on the brain than the back. Lions squads have been picked across Britain and Ireland for months, but the one that matters – Warren Gatland’s – will be named at 12.30pm today. Harri Morgan has picked his, but like rugby itself, it’s the taking part that counts. 

The middle pages were always easiest to access.  

The slightly overgrown nails that you were otherwise ridiculed for, making it easier to temporarily lift the staples that bound the lined A5 pages together. 

Lift out a couple of sheets, grab the ruler and commence marking out a football pitch. Corner markings an unexplainable must. 

Next, the numbering. One to eleven in a 4-4-2 formation – pausing only to consider if 4 was a centre half and 6 a central midfielder or vice versa.  

Admin done, time for business. The brief – a present day World XI. Roberto Carlos or Bixente Lizarazu at left back a persistent dilemma.  

I imagine it’s all apps and false nines these days. 

As adults we know such exercises have no grounding in reality and the lack of a ‘right’ answer will only ever result in perpetual disagreement. At least – we should know. 

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Yet – name me a better way to salvage a dwindling pub conversation than the hypothetical sporting scenario. 

An all-time greatest team – is player X better than Y? Who would win between the greats of today and those of yesteryear? The options are plentiful. The answers subjective. 

Get the round – split the crisp packet down the seam – this is going to get deep.  

 Promise me one thing. No goats.  

In rugby circles, nothing indulges these fanatical fantasies like a British & Irish Lions selection.  

It’s a slow burner which ignites the moment a tour finishes, changing course numerous times in the following years before coming home with a slightly aggressive flourish.  

At nine past noon or thereabouts, rugby fans from across the home unions will begin checking back the selections of Gatland & Co. against their own list. 

A warm sense of vindication with each ‘correct answer’ and momentary disdain with each name that ‘they’ get wrong.  

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Plenty of ‘I told you so’ will be mentally documented for use should the tourists fail to achieve a series victory.  

Then to Twitter – to lord it over a temporary foe with whom you have spent the last fortnight debating who will be the third tight-head behind Tadhg Furlong and Kyle Sinckler. It matters. 

Selection policies as well as the mediums used to record the output will vary throughout the home unions.  

Teams weighted in favour of form, and others with a Woodwardian tip of the cap to past performance will be jotted into notepads and punched into spreadsheets.  

Dan Biggar, who some had as internationally done and dusted after being replaced at Murrayfield this season, is likely to be commonplace with those going on form, whereas Jonathan Davies would likely feature for those who believe having a couple of ‘been there’ T-shirts is a pre requisite for future achievement.  

Expect some selections to feature Manu Tuilagi in preference to the 2017 man of the series – with the latter’s lack of form cited as the deciding factor. What have you got to say about that, Alanis Morrissette.  

Most will have a conscious or unconscious bias toward a particular nation. I discovered this after reviewing my own ‘objective’ selection in which any toss of the coin decision landed on tails – for Wales. 

I couldn’t help but feel a sense of hypocrisy having had a self-isolated rant at a blog of Scottish origin for asking how many Scots needed to be selected to give the concept of the Lions a relevance boost north of the border.  

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It seems meritocracy is easier to preach than practice.  

Then, of course, there is the bolter. A beautiful thing.  

As is the case when reading through the runners and riders ahead of the Grand National it becomes fairly easy to convince yourself that a shock could come from anywhere and you need to make sure you are backing it.  

Kyle Eastmond for the 2013 tour anybody? Just me then.  

The reality is that whilst we look for romance, the selectors will be running the rule over the series of letters and numbers next to the horse’s name.  

The one’s that only the experts understand – or profess to, anyway. 

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My bolter? Cameron Redpath.  

I know he had a belter on his Scotland debut, but he is a bolter, isn’t he? Alexa, “define bolter”.  

Whilst we are talking about outsiders, what price the name Tadhg to be the most popular in the squad of 36? Thomas, Tomos and Tomas are all different, right? 

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