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Topics: London, Welsh

Tuesday, 10 May 2005

image for Wilkinson's grandmother included in Lions squad
Betty Wilkinson at home yesterday

Tuesday 10th May. London. Clive Woodward was at the centre of another selection storm this morning after naming Jonny Wilkinson's granny in his tour party for New Zealand. Outraged Welsh and Scottish supporters vowed to now support the All Blacks during their three tests against the British & Irish Lions in June.

Woodward has already been accused by some quarters of favouring English-based players over their Celtic counterparts, despite England's poor showing in their last two six nations campaigns. The news comes just a day after Mrs Wilkinson's more famous grandson was named in the squad despite not having played for England since kicking the now legendary winning drop goal in 2003's World Cup Final.

"I've been monitoring Betty's progress," said Sir Clive, "and I've been very impressed. She's overcome her hip replacement operation beautifully and she even made it all the way back from bingo without a zimmer frame last Tuesday. She fully deserves to be on the plane. We do need another specialist blind-side flanker and Mrs Wilkinson is such a player - and she's not a bad kicker either."
When asked about his decision to take Mrs Wilkinson rather any Scottish players Woodward suddenly became very animated,
"Have you seen Scotland play?" he scoffed angrily, "anyway Betty's been through two world wars - we'll need her experience against the bad guys Down Under."

Betty Wilkinson who plays her club rugby for Gateshead Ladies Over 60s was delighted but somewhat shocked by the late call-up. At 83 she becomes the third oldest member of the squad, after Neil Back and Lawrence Dallaglio, but is still determined to gain a test spot.
"My first priority is to survive the flight," she said, "then it's to make the mid-week side. Richard Hill is a great player so it's going to be tough to dislodge him but I'll give it my best. I've got my eye on a place in the test side"

Irish captain and Lions skipper Brian O'Driscoll welcomed the move,
"If she's anything like Jonny it's brilliant for the side, you know. Even if she doesn't play I've heard she makes a great Victoria Sponge."

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