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British & Irish Lions
Handing out some silverware
Tom Hamilton in Sydney
July 7, 2013
© Getty Images

So the 2013 British & Irish Lions tour has now come to an end and Sydney is just starting to recover. For the 45 players who have pulled on the famous red jersey over the last six weeks, the realisation of what they have achieved will soon start to kick in while for the management, minds will soon turn to four years hence when the Lions rock up in New Zealand.

With the dust just starting to settle on a remarkable few weeks of Lions rugby, ESPNscrum hands out some awards.

Lions' Player of the Series: There have been some huge performances over the past few weeks but the gong must go to one of the Welsh contingent with George North and Leigh Halfpenny both in the running. North was the superstar of the tour with just about everyone in Australia sitting up and taking notice of the giant wing. But Halfpenny was incredible, he slotted 39 of his 44 shots at goal throughout the tour.

Yes, his last gasp penalty kick in the second Test dropped agonisingly short in Melbourne but he showed no ill effects in the third Test when every shot must have been a dagger to the heart of the Wallabies. Alun Wyn Jones labelled him a "talisman" post-match and it would take a brave man to disagree with him.

Lions' Hero of the Series: The likes of Brian O'Driscoll, Sam Warburton, Tom Youngs and Adam Jones were up there, but for me, the skipper in the third Test Alun Wyn Jones was monumental throughout. He put his body on the line frequently, never shirked a tackle and was just immense. He didn't raise a smile in the post-match press conference after the third Test but he must have been a deeply satisfied man. The ghosts of 2009 were buried for Jones and he can look back on this tour with huge pride.

Best Match: The intensity of the game against the Reds was fantastic with some brilliant moments of individual skill while the Lions' performance against the Waratahs was also impressive. But it is hard to look past the final Test for the men in red. The first Test just about had it all but the third saw some sensational running rugby and the team finally clicked. It was a joy to behold.

Top Try: Reds winger Luke Morahan's score against the Lions was a memorable effort while Israel Folau's double in the first Test also warrants a mention. But George North's sensational individual score during that match in Brisbane edges them all. It was a try that will be replayed frequently over the coming years and one those of Lions persuasion will not tire in enjoying.

Best Backpack: Israel Folau. The rugby-watching world loved the moment North picked up Folau in the second Test and it triggered a host of images paying tribute to the bizarre spectacle. Our favourite was from the Welsh Dalai Lama


Burger bar connoisseurs: Step forward James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale. They were snapped in a branch of a popular burger chain at some ungodly hour after the Lions has pummelled the Melbourne Rebels. Not wise chaps.

Best Advert: Oh how we laughed at the 'Rooting for Wallabies' graphic. Well played Australia but it proved to be in vain.

Fans warm up for the series decider between Australia and the British & Irish Lions, Sydney, July 6, 2013
The sea of red - immense support © Getty Images

Biggest Farce: The Western Force were handed a lifeline for this category when the International Rugby Board intervened in the case of James Horwill's alleged stamp on Alun Wyn Jones. The appeal and the repeat hearing cast a shadow over the third Test and quite rightly prompted some concern from the Australian media.

Best Non-incident: Flip a coin between Cian Healy's alleged bite and James Horwill's awkward step on Alun Wyn's head.

Most Surreal Night: On a personal note, the trip around Newcastle with a floppy haired blonde flanker was great but being invited into Khoder Nasser's box with Quade Cooper to watch Sonny Bill Williams takes the honour.

Best Headline: 'Idiotic Rugby Board' from Australia's Daily Telegraph was a belter, but they surpassed that earlier in the tour in the lead up to the second State of Origin game when the front page had emblazoned on it - 'NRL Bans Biff'. Chapeau to one and all.

Best Bits: Tour buddies, birthdays, Karl Schubert's epic managing of the media, all the Jacks, biff, Circular Quay, the impromptu night out in Newcastle, seas of red, dummy calls

Worst Bits: Wi-fi costs, Canberra, sleep deprivation, post-Hong Kong laundry bill, broken lifts, Sydney taxi drivers, ANZ Stadium, rugby league, dummy calls

© Getty Images
© 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