Scottish Rugby is delighted to learn of the call-up of Scotland hooker Ross Ford for the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa.
Ford, the 25-year-old, who has won 30 caps for his country, was named this afternoon as a replacement for the injured Irishman Jerry Flannery.
Ford thus becomes the fourth Scot in the squad, alongside his Edinburgh team-mate Mike Blair, and fellow forwards Nathan Hines and Euan Murray, for the ten match tour of South Africa, which begins with a game against a Highveld XV in Rustenburg next Saturday (30 May).
Ford told the Scottish Rugby website: “It’s a great honour. I’m chuffed to bits. Geech phoned me and said: ‘I think you know why I’m calling.’”
Ford recalled that he first became aware of how massive a phenomenon the Lions is, when, as a schoolboy, he watched the TV coverage of the 1997 Lions tour of South Africa.
“That would be the first time I realised just how much the Lions means. I remember buying the Living with the Lions video after the tour and just about wearing it out through watching it so often – and learning a few new words from Jim Telfer too!
“To be selected is a great honour – right up there with my best rugby achievements, but until I actually play and win in the jersey I haven’t really done the hard bit yet.
“Of course I was disappointed to miss out on selection first time around but I just knuckled down and concentrated on doing my job for Edinburgh and it was great to finish the Magners League season on a high and secure the runners-up spot.”
Originally a back-row forward, good enough in that position to win international age-grade honours, Ford converted successfully to a front-row forward. “It was a lot of hard work and, being honest, there were a few moments when I wondered if I was doing the right thing. But it’s all paid off now – and some,” he explained.
He also paid tribute to the support and encouragement he has received from coaches and team-mates throughout his career, singling out his head-coach at Edinburgh, Andy Robinson.
He said: “Andy Robinson has been a huge influence on me. He’s really brought my game forward from where it was after the 2007 World Cup.”
Andy Robinson said: “Ross has had a good season. He has the physicality and fitness to thrive in the environment in South Africa and really make an impact out there.”
Rob Moffat, Edinburgh’s assistant coach, said: “I think he has played consistently well for us this season and he’s obviously had a very strong finish to the season which helped us to second place in the league. He has all the attributes to be a successful Lion.”
Scotland and Edinburgh captain Mike Blair, already with the Lions at their preparation base in Surrey prior to their departure for South Africa on Sunday, said: “It’s a great reward for Ross who put in some stand out performances in this season’s internationals and was a key figure in Edinburgh’s good run at the end of the season.
“It will be great to have another Scottish guy in the camp and it will be a terrific challenge for Ross to join up with the Lions squad and strive to get up the pecking order.”
Scottish Rugby’s Chief Executive Gordon McKie said: “Congratulations to Ross on his well-deserved selection.
“Coming so soon after the call-up of his Edinburgh team mate Mike Blair, it’s further great news for the whole of Scottish Rugby.”
Ford’s call-up means that a replacement will be required for Scotland A’s participation in the IRB Nations Cup in Romania next month. That replacement will be announced next week.
British and Irish Lions manager Gerald Davies said: “Munster hooker Jerry Flannery tore ligaments in his left elbow in training on Wednesday that unfortunately ruled him out of the tour.
“His place is taken by Edinburgh’s 25-year-old hooker Ross Ford who played in all five of Scotland’s 2009 Six Nations Championship matches.”
Ross Ford (Edinburgh)
Hooker. Born: 23.04.84 in Edinburgh. Height: 6ft 1in (1.86m). Weight: 17st 5lb (110kg).
Ross William Ford marked his World Cup debut with a try when he appeared as a replacement in Scotland’s 56-10 win against Portugal in St Etienne in September 2007. His second international try was in Scotland’s second-Test win against Argentina in Buenos Aires in June 2008.
Ross won his first senior cap for Scotland when he was introduced as a replacement during the opening match of the 2004 Abbey Autumn Tests against Australia at Murrayfield. It was over a year before he made his second appearance, reward for a solid season with the Border Reivers, when he came on as a replacement against Wales in the 2006 RBS Six Nations.
More than two years after his debut – following nine replacement appearances – he had his first Scotland start against France in Paris on the final day of the 2007 RBS Six Nations Championship. He was again in the starting XV for the next international, the World Cup warm-up in which Scotland beat Ireland 31-21 at Murrayfield, and he continued as first-choice against South Africa two weeks later. He has started in 21 of Scotland’s past 23 internationals.
The Kelso High School former pupil captained Scotland under-16 and was a member of the 2002 Commonwealth Games Sevens squad in Manchester. He has also represented his country at under-18, under-19, and under-21 levels. His under-19 honours included the 2002 IRB/FIRA world junior championship in Italy, when he played in all four of Scotland’s games as a flank forward, though he soon switched to hooker with Border Reivers. He made his under-21 international debut in the 2004 match against Wales at Bridgend, and he played in the age group’s world championship that year and 2005. Ross, who is a member of the Scottish Institute of Sport, was named Border Reivers’ Player of the Year at the Scottish Rugby Awards Dinner in May 2006. He joined Glasgow Warriors in summer 2007 but switched to Edinburgh in mid-October after the Rugby World Cup.
International record: 30 caps. 2004 – A(r). 2006 – W(r) E(r) PI(r) A(r). 2007 – E(r) W(r) It(r) I(r) F I2 SA RWC[Por(r) R It Arg]. 2008 – F W I E Arg1 Arg2 NZ SA Can. 2009 – W F It I E. Points: 10 – 2 tries.
Lee Byrne (Wales)
Rob Kearney (Ireland)
Shane Williams (Wales)
Ugo Moyne (England)
Luke Fitzgerald (Ireland)
Tommy Bowe (Ireland)
Jamie Roberts (Wales)
Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)
Keith Earls (Ireland)
Riki Flutey (England)
Ronan O’Gara (Ireland)
Stephen Jones (Wales)
Mike Phillips (Wales)
Harry Ellis (England)
Mike Blair (Scotland)
Jamie Heaslip (Ireland)
Andy Powell (Wales)
David Wallace (Ireland)
Stephen Ferris (Ireland)
Tom Croft (England)
Joe Worsley (England)
Martyn Williams (Wales)
Alun-Wyn Jones (Wales)
Paul O’Connell (Ireland) Captain
Donncha O’Callaghan (Ireland)
Simon Shaw (England)
Nathan Hines (Scotland)
Gethin Jenkins (Wales)
Adam Jones (Wales)
Andrew Sheridan (England)
Phil Vickery (England)
Euan Murray (Scotland)
Ross Ford (Scotland)
Lee Mears (England)
Matthew Rees (Wales)
Manager – Gerald Davies
Head Coach – Ian McGeechan
Forwards Coach – Warren Gatland
Defence Coach – Shaun Edwards
Backs coach – Robert Howley
Physical conditioning coach – Craig White
Physical conditioning coach – Paul Stridgeon
Head of Performance Analysis – Rhys Long
Performance Analyst – Rhodri Bown
>Head doctor – James Robson
Doctor – Gary O’Driscoll
Physiotherapist – Phil Pask
Masseur – Richard Wegrzyk
Logistics officer – Guy Richardson
Head of Media – Greg Thomas
Operations manager – Louise Ramsay
Communications manager – Christine Connolly
Media manager – Louisa Cheetham
Baggage Master – Paddy O’Reilly
(all kick-off times are local)
Saturday 30 May v Highveld XV, Rustenberg, kick-off 3pm
Wednesday 3 June v Golden Lions, Johannesburg, kick-off 7.10pm
Saturday 6 June v Cheetahs, Bloemfontein, kick-off 3pm
Wednesday 10 June v Sharks, Durban, kick-off 7.10pm
Saturday 13 June v Western Province, Cape Town, kick-off 3pm
Tuesday 16 June v Coastal XV, Port Elizabeth, kick-off 3pm
Saturday 20 June v South Africa, Durban, kick-off 3pm
Tuesday 23 June v Emerging Springboks, Cape Town, kick-off 7.10pm
Saturday 27 June v South Africa, Pretoria, kick-off 3pm
Saturday 4 July v South Africa, Johannesburg, kick-off 3pm