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Championship graduates ready to roar for the Lions

21 June 2013

  • Five former RFU Championship players named in Lions squad
  • Call-ups "huge testament to the competition", says Rob Andrew
Dan Cole, Tom Youngs and Alex Corbiserio after beating New Zealand in 2012

Photo: RFU Archive

Five graduates from the RFU Championship, the second tier of professional rugby in England, will step up to the greatest rugby stage of all tomorrow as they prepare to don the famous Lions jersey.
Having flown across the Pacific sea to Australia from Argentina to replace injured Cian Healy and Gethin Jenkins, former Nottingham prop Alex Corbisiero will start for the Lions, pipping his England teammate and former Championship prop Mako Vunipola to the starting XV. Northampton-bound Corbiserio will line-up against the Aussies with Tom Youngs, who was on loan to Nottingham Rugby as recently as 2009 after a spell at Bedford Blues.
Former Bedford Blues players Dan Cole and Owen Farrell have been named on the bench for tomorrow’s 1st test in Canberra, while Mako Vunipola, who progressed through the ranks at Bristol Rugby, is also named as replacement.
Speaking about the former Championship players, RFU Professional Rugby Director Rob Andrew said:
“To have five players that started out in the RFU Championship named in the Lions team to face Australia in tomorrow’s first test is really a huge testament to the competition; it speaks for itself. The likes of Tom and Mako have made an enormous impact on the elite stage and in a relatively short space of time. I’ve no doubt a significant part of that is down to the coaching and playing opportunities they were offered in the second tier.”