British Lions

Lack of respect for Scotland - Grant

2017-06-29 20:14
Ryan Grant (Getty)

Cape Town - Scotland prop Ryan Grant feels his country's players have been unfairly regarded as inferior by other home unions.

Just two Scots - Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour - were named in the British and Irish Lions' initial squad for this year's tour of New Zealand.

And although Greig Laidlaw was added to the squad when England's Ben Youngs withdrew due to personal reasons ahead of the tour, and Finn Russell and Allan Dell were called up as injury cover ahead of the clash with the Chiefs in Hamilton, no Scottish player has been included in the Lions' Test squad yet.

"There's not much respect from players in the English Premiership for the PRO12," Grant told the BBC.

"They think it's a lesser standard of rugby. Less so now, but definitely in the past, and I guess it's the same for international rugby.

"I'd be lying if I said that other unions didn't think Scottish teams weren't that good. There were four Scots on the last Lions tour, five on this tour, so even though boys are putting up results against Ireland and Wales, they're not getting the recognition, and that can only be because they're perceived to be not as good."

Grant said he believes mind-sets are changing, however.

"The players are obviously not happy about [the perception] but I think they're going about it in the right way - let the results do the talking," he said.

"The respect for Scottish rugby is growing and deservedly so as the results speak for themselves. Glasgow have done a great job of competing and Scotland recently have put up some great results.

"I think perceptions are changing, but there's not an England team that won't be favourites against Scotland for a while until we can prove otherwise. They believe they're better than us, which to a certain degree they are, but the respect still needs to be there.

"I think in the next tour possibly we'll see a Scottish coach in there, and we'll definitely see more Scottish players involved. I think the future's bright for Scottish rugby and that can only serve the Lions well to have more Scottish players in there and take it back to that kind of evenness, if you like, of a 1997 tour as opposed to a 2017 tour."

Grant was called up as a replacement by the Lions on their victorious tour of Australia in 2013 after Cian Healy and Gethin Jenkins sustained injuries.

But despite being named on the Lions bench for the second Test - which they lost - Grant saw no action although starting front-row Mako Vunipola was tiring and the Scot was not included in the matchday squad for the series-deciding third Test.

"It's a tough pill to swallow even now, to be so close and to really feel like the team could have benefited from me coming on," added Grant, who last played for his country at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.

"Mako was clearly wrecked and we were under the pump, and a bit of fresh legs would have benefited the team. It kind of made it a bit worse that the scrum wasn't going particularly well.

"I kind of avoided [forwards coach] Graham Rowntree for a few days after that because I was bitterly disappointed and if we spoke sooner, I would probably say something stupid.

"So I let it cool down for a couple of days, went and spoke to him, and he just kind of said to me that he hadn't seen enough of me and he wasn't sure he could trust me in a Test match like that, and it was the one they lost.

"I just had to say, 'listen, I totally disagree with you, and if you'd watched any of the Six Nations games you'd know I could handle myself, so we'll agree to disagree' - I don't think we've said a single word to each other since.

"Mako was cramping up and he was down every two minutes, so it was kind of an extra kick in the face. But it is what it is - it was four years ago now."

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