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Celtic Players Dominate Lions Selection

Celtic Players Dominate Lions Selection

The announcement by the management of the British and Irish Lions of the 37-man touring party for the three Test tour to South Africa in the summer has seen the inclusion of no less than 27 players who currently ply their trade in the Magners League.

This represents 73% of the touring party, a far higher proportion than the 48% selected by Sir Clive Woodward when he named 21 Celtic players in his 44-man squad that toured to New Zealand in 2005.

It is also the best ever selection of players who currently play their rugby in one of the Celtic nations, beating the 24 that were named for the 1977 tour, also to New Zealand.

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Of the individual Magners League teams, Munster provide eight players, including tour captain Paul O’Connell, the highest representation ever by a single province, Leinster four and Ulster one.

The Welsh regions’ Cardiff Blues and the Ospreys supply six players apiece. It is the Blues’ best total since their forerunners Cardiff had six players named in the original touring party in 1968.

Swansea and Neath combined have never bettered the Ospreys’ selection..

Director of Celtic Rugby David Jordan said: “The make-up of the 2009 Lions touring party reflects the standard that the players based in the Magners League have shown over the season and when they have participated in other tournaments.

“Celtic teams already hold three cross-border titles – the RBS 6 Nations trophy and the Heineken and EDF Energy Cups – and it would be an immense achievement if being part of a winning British & Irish Lions touring party could be added to the CV of some of our players.

“On behalf of the Board of Celtic Rugby, I would like to congratulate all those who have been selected and wish them well in their endeavours over the summer.”