Jim Lyon - When it comes to the Lions, I’m a cross between Michael Winner and Boris Becker

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
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It is a strange image but bear with me – I am going to be half Michael Winner, half Boris Becker.

After the over-the-top reaction to a British & Irish Lions selection let me say this: Calm down dear, no one died out there.

Let us keep this in perspective, please.

The decision to leave one person out of a rugby team has almost caused an international crisis.

At one stage this week I expected Ban Ki-moon to be called upon to try to sort out the differences.

What was a basic selection issue, and I am sure one that was not taken lightly, has turned social media into a frenzied feast of racist name calling.

Brian O’Driscoll has been dropped. Jamie Roberts has been selected.

That, my friends, is as far as it goes.

It is not a slight on the Irish. It is not an endorsement of the Welsh.

It is one rugby player picked ahead of another rugby player to play in a game of rugby for one rugby team against another rugby team.

It is, nonetheless, an extremely bold call.

A fully fit Roberts would certainly have played in the first Test.

The fact he was injured saved a big decision being made earlier.

Whether his recently recovered hamstring can stand up to the rigours of what could well be a brutal encounter will only be found out in due course.

But Warren Gatland has copped a lot already. You can only hope for his sake, and that of the Lions, it turns out to be the right shout.

Some of the comments spouted about the pro-Welsh nature of the side have been absolute nonsense.

One imbecile in a national paper described it as a ‘brazen insult to the concept of the Lions’. Pillock.

This is a tour. There have been a bunch of blokes playing their hearts of for several weeks all desperate to get the chance to pull on that famous red jersey.

As the man charged with picking a side that could go down in history as Lions series winners, Gatland would not give monkey’s if they were born in Denby, Dublin, Derby or Dundee.

He has picked the 15 he thinks most capable of winning the Test (or Tist, as he would say).

If you do not like it, and there are selections we would probably all disagree with, tough.

You and I are not head coach of the British & Irish Lions so it matters not one jot what we think.

On a practical level, with all emotion and partisan bleatings ignored, it is not a huge surprise that O’Driscoll was dropped.

As an attacking force he has not been at his best and the referees have seen fit to penalise him on several occasions for his work in the rucks.

In a series that has so far seen the sides separated by two points in the first Test and one in the second, we are playing with fine margins.

A couple of penalties given away here or there – even if they are down to interpretation – could be very costly. That might have played a part in Gatland’s thinking.

Not that I do not feel sorry for ‘BOD’.

He has been the best player of his generation and one of the finest of all time. It would have been special to see him go out with arms aloft after playing his part in a series win.

But that is not to be.

What might still happen is the tourists from these islands could win tomorrow’s match.

If that is how it pans out I, for one, could not care whether the team comprises Jock, Taff, Paddy or whatever tag you want to add for an Englishmen (clean ones only, please).

I will be happy or sad with a win or loss for the British & Irish Lions.

That is, after all, what it is all about.