In dozens of living rooms and clubhouses around the British Isles it was easy to imagine the scene.
Stunned silences, sinking hearts, parental tears: the fate of the rejected Lions tourist is not pretty on these occasions. "Oh well …" tweeted Ryan Jones, surely a contender for any gallant stiff-upper-lip awards on offer this year.
Over in Northampton the "absolutely gutted" Tom Wood was rather less phlegmatic, while the silence from other jilted contenders was deafening. Chris Robshaw was described as "desperately, desperately unlucky" by the England forwards coach Graham Rowntree, who admitted the pair's next meeting would be painful. "It's going to be a difficult conversation for me later on," he said.
There was not even the reassurance of an official standby list, with its faint consolation value. The Lions will assess each injured player on a case-by-case basis and then contact potential replacements accordingly. On average between six and eight players will be flown out to join the tour but it is not an exact science. The absentees can only cling to the honeyed words of coaches attempting to soften the blow, as Rowntree – "We'd like to think if we have an injury we'll go straight to Chris" – tried to do for his national captain. As Martin Corry and Ryan Jones have both proved, it is possible to be omitted from a Lions tour and still make the Test team a matter of weeks later.
Warren Gatland was never going to satisfy everyone but the sheer number of contenders has led to a higher number of hopes being raised than normal. Billy Twelvetrees and Brad Barritt were both stymied by the Lions' decision to take only four centres, while Mike Ross and Ryan Grant were nudged aside by slightly more mobile ball-carrying props in Matt Stevens, a tourist in 2005, and Mako Vunipola.
Danny Care and Greig Laidlaw also had their admirers, only to lose out to Munster's Conor Murray, while Simon Zebo was specifically singled out by Gatland as having been "very unlucky". Zebo can also play at full-back but Stuart Hogg's ability to perform at centre and fly-half and Sean Maitland's composure ultimately counted against him.
As for the handful of France-based candidates, Gatland has stayed true to his word and refused to take anyone, Jonny Wilkinson included, who cannot guarantee being available to fly out to Hong Kong on 27 May with the rest of the squad. Andrew Sheridan, Nathan Hines, Delon and Steffon Armitage, Lee Byrne … none of them was considered, though Gethin Jenkins, the Toulon prop who is heading home to Wales this summer, is an exception. Toulon officials continue to insist that he remains under contract but Gatland said he had received suitable assurances from the player. "I've spoken to Gethin and said: 'Are you available to tour' and he said: 'Yes.'"
By Gatland's admission, however, there will almost certainly be one or two players injured before the departure date. For the likes of Jones, Rhys Priestland, Dan Biggar, Scott Williams, James Hook and Ken Owens there remains the possibility of being plucked from Wales's tour of Japan, while Twelvetrees, Robshaw, Wood, Christian Wade, Alex Goode, Joe Launchbury and Ben Morgan will cling to the hope of a midnight phone call to England's team hotel in Argentina.
As for those who have tasted the Lions experience and been passed over this time, the sense of longing will be even more acute. Keith Earls, Donncha O'Callaghan and Ronan O'Gara fall into that category, with Gatland opting to take 24 first-time Lions instead.
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