Lions 2013: No gloating says Warren Gatland after tough call
British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland said being vindicated in his decision to drop Brian O'Driscoll gave him no pleasure after victory in the third Test against Australia.
The Lions secured their first series victory in 16 years with an emphatic 41-16 win in Sydney.
Jamie Roberts, who came in at centre, scored the last of four Lions tries.
"I don't want to gloat. It was a tough call but it's about the boys winning the series," said Gatland.
Recent Lions series
- 1997: Lions won 2-1 in South Africa
- 2001: Lions lost 2-1 in Australia
- 2005: Lions lost 3-0 in New Zealand
- 2009: Lions lost 2-1 in South Africa
- 2013: Lions win 2-1 in Australia
The New Zealander admitted to being surprised at the level of criticism following his decision to drop veteran centre O'Driscoll.
"I was absolutely shocked, it was vitriolic almost in terms of the criticism," he said. "We made a tough call and we knew there was going to be some fallout from that.
"I have not taken a lot of pleasure out of tonight in terms of feeling vindicated.
"Maybe in a week or two I might get some pleasure out of this, but at the moment there isn't a lot of pleasure because of the amount of criticism that had been personally placed on me.
"The last 72 hours have been pretty tough personally. That's why you're in the job, you've got to make tough calls and hopefully, every now and then, one comes through."
O'Driscoll, who has played in four series for the Lions, said he was delighted to be part of a winning squad for the first time.
"I'm delighted, it's been a rollercoaster week for me but it's all about being a part of it for me," he said.
"I will always have it on my CV and the negatives will be forgotten. Huge credit goes to the players, the management and staff."
What they said on Twitter
- Prime minister David Cameron: "A superb result for the British and Irish Lions. Hoping Andy Murray can make it the perfect sporting weekend."
- Comedian Jack Whitehall: "Whether its rugby, cricket, rock paper scissors, tidily winks or mud wrestling. There is no better feeling than beating the Aussies at sport."
- Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford: "This is incredible! Utterly brilliant from the Lions. Happy is an understatement."
- Former Lion Will Carling: "Personally think Halfpenny should be promoted to a 'Fullpenny' now :-) What a player!"
- Former England footballer Gary Lineker: "Thought it would be impossible to get close to last summer, but this could be another great year for British sport."
- Former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan: "Me thinks #AussieBashing will be trending all summer...!!!"
Gatland praised the way his side responded after the Wallabies slashed the Lions' lead from 19-3 to only three points in the second half.
"The guys played exceptionally well. We came under pressure and the boys kept their composure and finished really strong. They deserve a lot of credit," said the head coach.
"At half-time we spoke about going to a place that not many players go to in terms of pushing your body to the limit. And the players did that and ran themselves into the ground.
"I think we've played some great rugby on this tour. Four tries tonight was a vindication of that.
"I'm really pleased for the players for finishing off a fantastic and hard-fought series."
Alun Wyn Jones, who was captain in the absence of the injured Sam Warburton, said: "It's a pretty indescribable feeling.
"We fronted up today and I think the scoreline reflected it. We represented the four countries with pride."
Warburton was skipper for the victory in the first Test but tore a hamstring in the second Test defeat.
He joined fellow Welshman Jones in collecting the Tom Richards Trophy after the 2-1 series win.
"It's been an immense Test series. To our boys, a massive well done," said Warburton. "We worked hard for this.
"To the fans, who spent thousands of pounds to come here, you've made our tour."
Wing George North scored his fourth try of the tour and said the Lions had finally played their best rugby of their time down under.
"It's been a long season," he said. "The first two Tests weren't the best but today we played the way we wanted.
"It finishes a long season with what we were after as a squad and this is all credit to Warren Gatland."