British and Irish Lions 2013: Western Force branded 'disgraceful' by former coach for fielding weakened team
The tourists cruised to victory in the match
Thursday 06 June 2013
Former Western Force coach Phil Blake believes the Western Australian outfit should be stripped of future matches against touring sides after fielding a reserve team to take on the British and Irish Lions yesterday.
Force coach Michael Foley elected to rest key players for Sunday's meaningless Super Rugby clash with the NSW Waratahs, sending a bunch of untried and inexperienced players into battle and watching them take a 69-17 hiding.
Lions coach Warren Gatland was disappointed with the inferior opposition served up to his side, while former England boss Sir Clive Woodward accused the Australian province of treating the Lions with contempt.
It's understood Foley's decision to rest seven frontline players has caused a major rift in the Force camp.
Blake, who had control of the Force for the back-end of last season before being axed for Foley, is still close to a number of players and is upset at what transpired.
"It should never have been allowed to happen. The ARU shouldn't have let it happen, the (Force) board shouldn't have let it happen and Foley shouldn't have been allowed to do it," he told Sportal.
"They've been promoting the history of the Lions and what it means to everyone who plays with them and against them.
"I would have thought a potential win against the British and Irish Lions in your history books would have meant more than a win against a second string NSW side.
"Next time there's a touring side coming to Australia they'll jump up and down if they don't get a game in the west.
"But why should they get another game when they've treated the biggest game in their history this way?
Asked how the players who missed the opportunity to play against the Lions would be feeling, Blake responded: "They'd be gutted. If you're not playing Test football, to play against a touring side is a feather in your cap and something you look back on with great pride.
"They've been robbed of that opportunity."
Brumbies skipper and Wallabies squad member Ben Mowen agreed with Blake, adding: "I think that would be extremely disappointing for those guys. It's just a massive honour to be involved any time you get to play a side like this."
Foley defended his decision, pointing to a crowded schedule that sees the Force play his former team the Waratahs on Saturday.
But Blake is not buying it, particularly with the Force-Tahs match having no bearing on the finals make-up.
"Obviously if you look a little deeper he's (Foley) thinking 'if I can beat NSW then I'll get one up on them' but there's a far bigger picture than that here," he said.
"Half the blokes who played Wednesday are playing club rugby - they shouldn't be taking on the Lions.
"You're not really caring about the paying public because you are putting out a side that would struggle to beat a club side in Sydney."
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