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Why the Lions quota system will never happen
Richard Seeckts
December 19, 2013
Warren Gatland received plenty of flak for his call to drop Brian O'Driscoll © Getty Images

Warren Gatland has invited debate on the possibility of introducing a quota system for future Lions teams. The idea should be a non-starter; the whole point of the Lions is to make the best team from the four Home Unions. Having to find room in a XV for, say, a minimum of three players from each nation would be bonkers and inevitably weaken a team that struggles to win in the modern era because of its 'scratch' nature.

Coming up against well drilled, cohesive southern hemisphere international teams after minimal preparation time makes the Lions' challenge hard enough. Being forced to pick men on the colour of their national shirt makes no more sense than picking them on the colour of their skin, their age or their sexual orientation. The Lions is a meritocracy, pure and simple.

Gatland knows this; he wants a public debate that reaches the obvious conclusion so that, should he get the Lions job again in 2017, there is no repeat of the brouhaha surrounding his Welsh-biased selection for the deciding Sydney Test in July. Shrewd operator that Gatland is, he seeks to spare himself a repeat of the bilious flak that flew his way from those who saw the 2013 Lions tour as Brian O'Driscoll's testimonial.

However anomalous or amusing it is that Wales can't beat Australia for love nor money at home, while a largely Welsh Lions team thrashed Australia in Sydney, a quota based Lions team for that match would have lost.

For the Lions to retain their popular appeal and commercial success, they must always pick the best team. The way to ensure they do so is to have the right man in charge. Whether that is Gatland or someone else is a different question.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

Richard Seeckts' rugby career consisted of one school match where he froze on the wing and despite no substitutes being available he was withdrawn from the game at half-time for mocking the opposition's line-out calls. Thereafter Richard and the sport agreed active participation was not the way ahead, but that has not prevented him from avidly writing about and watching the game. He now contributes his random observations to the Crooked Feed blog on ESPNscrum.com