Dr James Robson: British and Irish Lions tours meant everything to me; 2017 omission was devastating


Dr James Robson, British and Irish Lions tour physician between 1993 and 2013, shares his recollections, highlights and 2017 disappointment

A veteran of six consecutive British and Irish Lions excursions between 1993 and 2013, Scotland’s Physician James Robson spoke completely to Sky Sports activities Rugby of his Lions recollections, highlights and the devastation of lacking out in 2017…

Talking as a visitor on the newest episode of The Will Greenwood’s Lions podcast, Robson spoke of what being a Lion meant to him.

“It is meant all the pieces,” he stated.

“After my household, it has been the pivotal a part of my life.

“I used to be very fortunate. I acquired on six consecutive excursions, and I used to be very fortunate too as a result of I transcended the novice into skilled.

“So going to New Zealand in 1993 after which to the primary skilled tour in South Africa in 1997, after which seeing the way it developed after that has been an actual training.

Robson says working with the Lions meant everything to him

Robson says working with the Lions meant all the pieces to him

“I can solely think about the sensation the gamers get for being chosen, and watching my present crop of gamers and the delight on their faces when their title will get introduced, it is the identical for the backroom employees – there may be nothing higher than a Lions tour.

“It’s, to me, the head. Rugby World Cups are nice, worldwide camp is implausible, however the Lions is the place everyone needs to be, and that features the medics.”

For 20 years, Dr Robson was a noticeable determine up and down the sidelines of Lions tour matches, dashing on to deal with stricken gamers and celebrating wildly when tries have been scored.

For the final 30 years, Robson has executed the identical at Scotland Take a look at matches. The place does his ardour come from?

“I performed at a comparatively low degree, and in addition to being a health care provider I’m a certified physiotherapist, and I take nice satisfaction in that and serving to to do bits and items with the opposite physios.

“In fact, that helped me to get my first Lions job as a result of it meant that that they had two physios and a health care provider successfully.

“The eagerness comes from the bond you create with the gamers.

Selection to go on the Lions' tour to Australia in 2013 meant Robson toured on six consecutive tours

Choice to go on the Lions’ tour to Australia in 2013 meant Robson toured on six consecutive excursions

“So off the sphere issues as a lot as on the sphere. In the event you’ve acquired sufficient of an curiosity you attend the staff conferences, you hearken to the lineout calls, you watch the backs strikes, as a result of that is half and parcel of excellent sport administration.

“You possibly can suss out what’s taking place and roughly the place the contact factors are going to return, and that simply means that you can be extra alert.

“I’ve toned down my celebrations at pitchside a bit as I’ve acquired older. The factor is, I believe it’s a must to have a ardour for the game – there’s nothing fallacious with that – however at pitchside it’s a must to be ice cool.

“I’ll usually end the sport not understanding who has scored for example. I am going to know if we have gained or misplaced, however your primary focus is on damage.

“Once I recall video games, sadly, I do know that you just [Will Greenwood] have been simply 5 metres wanting midway whenever you have been injured. I do know precisely the place Thom Evans was on the Millennium Stadium pitch [neck dislocation in Wales vs Scotland Test in 2010]. It is these sort of issues that stick out in my thoughts.

“In addition to that, the highlights do. I am nonetheless amazed that Jerry [Guscott] was in the place Gregor Townsend ought to have been in 1997 and he is lived off that. He could not have hit it higher.”

Dr Robson worked at his 250th Scotland Test during the 2021 Six Nations

Dr Robson labored at his 250th Scotland Take a look at through the 2021 Six Nations

Again to Robson’s first Lions tour in 1993, he had barely labored with Scotland and knew virtually not one of the gamers. Was that first tour intimidating or troublesome?

“It was scary, however it’s a must to keep in mind again in 1993 it was simple sufficient for the gamers to get to know who administration have been as there was solely 5 of us.

“Ian McGeechan and Dick Greatest have been the coaches, Geoff Cooke was supervisor after which myself and Kevin ‘Smurf’ Murphy.

“It was a smaller group and there was no hiding place. We did some varied bonding stuff and bits and items and then you definately’re on the airplane.

“Then it was as much as you to get to know everybody, and what Smurf taught me was we made our medical room an open home, and the boys may are available always or days.

“You did not have devoted break day, you simply made your self obtainable, and that allowed individuals to return in and calm down.

“Smurf was a implausible exponent of that surroundings. Rala [Patrick O’Reilly] from Eire had that very same ethos as equipment man on the Lions excursions. His room was an open room, he’d present tea and a little bit of sanctuary.

“And it simply permits individuals to open up, and also you achieve that belief.”

Dr Robson says creating bonds with the players and a sanctuary for them to relax on tour is huge

Dr Robson says creating bonds with the gamers and a sanctuary for them to calm down on tour is big

Considering again to the six Lions excursions he labored on between 1993 in New Zealand and 2013 in Australia, Robson was requested by Greenwood to pick out what involves thoughts for every:

1993 vs New Zealand – “Being requested to play scrum-half in coaching for the forwards, receiving the ball off the highest of a lineout, and getting completely melted. And I am unable to keep in mind who did it!

“I believe it was Wade Dooley however I actually cannot keep in mind.”

1997 vs South Africa – “It needs to be in Durban and that last whistle, and understanding we would gained the sequence. It was absolute mayhem. I used to be then caught with a participant who could not move urine for the anti-doping take a look at, and so we have been late to the celebrations and my vivid reminiscence is strolling into the staff room as Keith Wooden was shaving Ian McGeechen’s head.

“I believe I used to be the one one that was awake on the airplane from Durban to Johannesburg [for third Test], and I keep in mind trying spherical and pondering we’re simply flying on fumes, and it is not aviation gas.”

The Lions' sea of red fans is something that remains with Robson from working on the tours

The Lions’ sea of purple followers is one thing that is still with Robson from engaged on the excursions

2001 vs Australia – “The overriding reminiscence there was the primary sea of purple. It was the primary true, everywhere-you-move Lions help being there.

“Individuals would come as much as you on the street and chat Lions, and it was only a loopy time. The pleasant nature of the vacationers is my overriding reminiscence there.

“Jason Robinson’s strive within the first Take a look at can also be one among my all-time favorite tries because it got here down our aspect, and we had a grandstand view.”

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2005 vs New Zealand – “Completely freezing rain within the first Take a look at, and Brian O’Driscoll’s shoulder damage.

“There was sleet, snow, individuals affected by hypothermia.”

2009 vs South Africa – “The second Take a look at. Arguably essentially the most brutal, bodily Take a look at match we have seen in lots of respects.

“Different individuals have stated that, however I keep in mind saying to the press afterwards that it actually was brutal and we wanted to start out how we may take individuals out of the gymnasium, take a little bit of dimension out, the actual fact collisions have been getting greater and greater and the way we’d return to the heyday of talent and searching for house.

The second Test in South Africa in 2009 remains the most physical match Robson has seen

The second Take a look at in South Africa in 2009 stays essentially the most bodily match Robson has seen

“That wasn’t actually, actually a medical problem, nevertheless it was prompted by the truth that sport was so bodily. We ended up taking individuals to hospital, as did they.”

2013 vs Australia – “The ocean of purple once more and the a number of tries within the third Take a look at win.

“And simply wow: the talent degree was all the pieces. On the night time, it simply appeared there have been no Australian supporters there.

“It felt like a real purple military.”

In 2013 in Australia, Lions supporters again come to the forefront of Robson's mind

In 2013 in Australia, Lions supporters once more come to the forefront of Robson’s thoughts

Lastly, Robson touched on his acute disappointment of lacking out on the 2017 tour to New Zealand:

“It was devastating.

“I by no means actually had a deal with on gamers not being chosen, however not being chosen for what would have been my seventh Lions tour was completely devastating.

“I keep in mind the telephone name and I keep in mind being completely distraught.

“I phoned Gregor Townsend, who had simply been appointed Scotland coach for the summer time tour developing, and I stated: ‘I’ve not been chosen for the Lion tour, I am hoping you will take me on the Scotland tour?’, and he stated: ‘It is their loss and our achieve.’

Since missing out for the Lions on their 2017 tour to New Zealand, Robson has continued to work for Scotland and picked up an MBE in 2018

Since lacking out for the Lions on their 2017 tour to New Zealand, Robson has continued to work for Scotland and picked up an MBE in 2018

“That made me really feel actually good, and I loved that summer time as a result of it was Gregor’s first as a Take a look at head coach, and allowed for brand new bonding. I would sorted him as a participant and we do have a particular bond. However to not be chosen was devastating.

“I’ve no regrets and I want everyone on the 2021 tour all the very best, as a result of as soon as a Lion at all times a Lion, you can’t have something however admiration for what the fellows are doing.

“I am delighted this 12 months that we have way more illustration from Scotland on the tour, and among the guys will realise that the tales I’ve stated through the years, it is all true and it is a great place to be, albeit curtailed a bit with no supporters or travelling help.

“It is nonetheless the very best tour to be on.”


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