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British & Irish Lions
'Barb Dwyer' lobs the first grenade
Tom Hamilton in Sydney
June 15, 2013
Bob Dwyer 16 years ago, but he is still just as outspoken © PA Photos

It had to happen. Everyone was getting along so well. There has hardly been any trash-talking between the camps. Yes Sir Clive's newspaper column has riled a few Down Under and yes Warren Gatland was spikey with the media after Tuesday's thrashing of the Combined Country, but the Lions' venture to Australia has been little more than a phoney war. No one has really popped their head above the parapet.

Cue Bob Dwyer, the man who guided the Wallabies to 1991 World Cup glory. 'Barb Dwyer', as he is known by some in these parts, has gone and lobbed a few verbal grenades out onto the rugby battlefield. Cheats, is the gist of his take on the British & Irish Lions. He told the Australian, "It's not supposed to be a contest to see who can cheat the best. It's who can play the best."

Coming under fire from Dwyer are the Lions' scrums, the tourists being offside at the ruck, illegally blocking the opposition at kick-offs and using decoy runners as barriers. Mako Vunipola's scrummaging technique against the Reds is picked on with Dwyer saying: "How Vunipola escaped punishment is one of the mysteries of the tour".

Lions' Mako Vunipola receives some treatment, Reds v British & Irish Lions, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, June 8, 2013
Mako Vunipola was not saved from Dwyer's criticism © PA Photos

And Richie Gray is also in his sights. "They power past the ball by a metre and a half and then they hold on to defenders' jerseys. Gray, who is about 11 foot tall and has a mop of blond hair, is pretty hard to miss. But the officials missed him anyway, even when he joined the ruck from in front of the ball."

But his criticism is not just saved for the players, oh no, Warren Gatland is also the victim of this verbal onslaught. "It doesn't come as any surprise they're coached by a New Zealander, because they play outside the laws of the game as every New Zealand side does." Quite what Robbie Deans, the Wallabies' coach and a fellow Kiwi, thinks of this statement is open to the imagination.

So, it seems the phoney war is nearly over. While it is pre-match posturing from Dwyer, the ante is being upped ahead of the first Test, even by those who sitting in the stands. Batten down the hatches, the pin has been pulled.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.

Tom Hamilton was brought up near the stands of the Recreation Ground and joined ESPN in 2011. He is now Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.
Follow him on Twitter @tomESPNscrum