British & Irish Lions

Did 'Vermeulen 4 Vunipola 0' influence Lions' selection shock?

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Billy Vunipola (Getty)
Billy Vunipola (Getty)

At least in a tale-of-the-tape context, the selection of England’s wrecking-ball No 8 Billy Vunipola for a British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa would have seemed a no-brainer to many observers.

A three-Test 2021 series likely to be especially bone-crunching, given the host nation’s time-honoured relish for the physical skirmishes, is right up the alley, in many respects, of the brutally direct 130kg specimen.

Instead Vunipola – despite his 61 international caps, still only 28, so potentially at his rugby peak – was one of the most conspicuous absentees when the Lions named their keenly-awaited squad on Thursday.

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