British and Irish Lions: Who makes Sport readers’ XV to face South Africa?

In 1906, a statistician named Francis Galton went to rural Plymouth for the fair. Then he saw the competition. Visitors paid six pence each to guess the weight of a cow.

When Galton analyzed their estimates, he found that the average estimate was nearly accurate – only one pound less than the animal’s actual weight of 85 stone. On average, this is a better estimate than any individual attempts by farmers, butchers or others who should be experts.

What does Galton have to do with Gatland?

Well, this week over 14,000 Sport users sent their British and Irish Lions XV to the first test in South Africa.

Will they be able to even come close to the strongest team in the British and Irish Lions, like the coach himself?

This is who a group of savvy sports users think will be on 24. July in Johannesburg at the red line.

15 – Stuart Hogg

Captain Scotland with over 82% of the vote. Welshman Liam Williams, who started all three Tests on the 2017 tour of New Zealand in 15th place after Hogg’s injury, was a distant second with 12% of the vote.

14 – Louis Rees-Zammit

The 20-year-old sensation from Wales won the first wing by a margin of 46% of the vote. Anthony Watson (20%) and Johnny May (9%) are second and third respectively.

13- George North

That’s debatable. North Wales, who only switched from wing to center field late last year, has a slight lead (26%) over teammate and 2017 Lions starter Jonathan Davies (23%).

12 – Robbie Henshaw

Irishman Henshaw has consistently excelled in this year’s Six Nations, with 40% of the vote, well ahead of Davies (20%) and England’s Owen Farrell (13%).

11 – Anthony Watson

Rees-Zammit led the left wing with 23% of the vote, while May and Watson got 20%. Rees-Zammit is already playing on the right wing in the XV, but Watson is overtaking his England teammate in the tie-break thanks to a larger share of the vote in the 14s jersey poll.

10 – Johnny Sexton

A real division that could define the style of a team. Live Wire 10 Scotland’s Finn Russell got 38 per cent of the vote, but 43 per cent opted for Ireland’s Johnny Sexton, whose return to the team in New Zealand coincided with the battle for the series tie.

9 – Conor Murray

Combinations could be the key to getting the Lions off to a good start. And sports users have given their opinions on the Irish midfielder: Murray received 52% of the vote, ahead of Gareth Davies of Wales (18%) and Ben Youngs of England (11%).

1 – Win Jones

Wales are taking a big leap forward in terms of free headers, which are occurring in 39% of teams. Ireland’s Cian Healy is in second place with 26% of the vote, while England’s Mako Vunipola, who started all three Tests in 2017, is on 15%.

2 – Ken Owens

Can Welsh hooker Owens make her first start in a Lions Test at the age of 34? A remarkable 60 per cent of Sport users agree with him, putting him ahead of Jamie George (17 per cent) and George’s England teammate Luke Cowan-Dickey (14 per cent).

3 – Tadhg Furlong

One of the 2017 frontrunners who will retain his seat is Thadhg Furlong. The Irishman didn’t go on trial again until a year later, in February, but he looked as agile and powerful as ever. He won an overwhelming majority of 80% of the vote, while Kyle Sinclair of England (11%) and Zander Fagerson of Scotland (4%) were his closest rivals.

4 – Alun Wyn Jones

Captain Wales and the mascot get the last dance before the Lions on 35. Jones played in all three of the Lions’ Tests in the last three rounds. He received 44% of the vote, ahead of England’s Maro Itoje (32%) and Ireland’s James Ryan (10%).

5 – Maro Itoje

Itoje, who played a key role in 2017, overcame the indifferent England campaign to take his place with 37% of the vote. Alun Wyn Jones (28%), James Ryan (16%), Ireland’s Ian Henderson (10%) and Scotland’s Johnny Gray (5%) are next to him.

6 – Tadhg Beirne

The rich form catapulted Thadg Beirne into the backline. The Irishman scored 10 turnovers during the Six Nations – more than any other player – and is also a useful finishing option. He received 33% of the vote ahead of England’s Tom Curry (14%), Scotland’s Hamish Watson (13%), teammate CJ Stander (13%) and Welshman Josh Navidi (10%).

7 – Tom Curry

Curry, who is only 22, is asked to play on the open side in his first cap for the Lions. English is ranked seventh by 28% of users. The Scots Hamish Watson (23%) and Justin Tipuric (20%) give him stiff competition.

8 – Taulupe Faletau

There’s not much to say about this, as the ubiquitous Welsh number eight Faletau is another pick in the 2017 squad. He received 64% of the vote, 13% for CJ Stander and 8% for Exeter’s Sam Simmonds, who hasn’t played an international match for three years. England’s number 8, Billy Vunipola, is 7% of the positions on the list.

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