Returning skipper savours success
Sam Warburton has returned home a proud man, having led the British and Irish Lions to victory in Australia.
After 16 years without a tour success, the Lions secured an unforgettable series victory against the Wallabies with Saturday's fine 41-16 victory in Sydney. More than a hundred fans welcomed home the triumphant Lions at Heathrow Airport on Wednesday morning, with a huge cheer going up when captain Warburton emerged with the trophy on top of his baggage trolley.
"It is a lot cleaner than it was Saturday night, that's for sure," he said. "There were a few bottles of champagne in the trophy."
He added: "It is a great feeling. It has been a long time coming this Lions tour so it is nice to come back with a trophy.
"It has only been done nine times in 125 years so all the players know they are part of a very prestigious group and are very proud of that."
Warburton missed the series decider with a hamstring tear and, watching on from the sidelines, admitted he could not relax until the 75th minute.
"People might have thought I might have relaxed in the 60th-odd minute," he said.
"But, being the pessimist I am and knowing Australia can always strike back with a few tries in a few minutes, I could not relax until it was five minutes to go. I figured out in my head that they had to get a try every 75 seconds to win, which I would have backed our defence on that one. That's the point I start smiling and celebrating."
It has been quite a week for British sport, with the Lions triumph followed by Andy Murray winning Wimbledon on Sunday. The England cricket team are now looking to keep the feelgood factor and Warburton is confident Australia will suffer yet more sporting woe.
"We will all be watching keenly," he said. "We've got nothing to do for four weeks now but to watch cricket, so our eyes will be glued to the telly and hopefully they can do the job. I am sure they have had a massive influx of messages but the boys have sent good luck messages to them for the last couple of weeks now."