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Stuart Lancaster open to coaching the British & Irish Lions with South Africa tour on the horizon

Stuart Lancaster, the former England head coach, has admitted that he would be open to joining Warren Gatland’s coaching team for the 2021 British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.

Stuart Lancaster open to coaching the British & Irish Lions with South Africa tour on the horizon
Stuart Lancaster open to coaching the British & Irish Lions with South Africa tour on the horizon

It was Gatland who effectively ended Lancaster’s reign as England boss when Wales won 28-25 at Twickenham in the 2015 World Cup, which would lead to the hosts crashing out in the group stages.

Lancaster has since rebuilt his reputation in a more hands-on role as Leinster senior coach under Leo Cullen. Under Lancaster, Leinster has established themselves as Europe’s most dynamic attacking team, and before the coronavirus lockdown, they had won 19 games from 19 this season.

Gatland is also likely to be in the market for a new assistant attacking coach. Rob Howley, who filled that role in the 2013 and 2017 Lions tours, is serving an 18-month ban for gambling breaches. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.

“It just feels like so far away, you just sit there thinking, ‘Oh, the Lions’. I think everyone as a coach would ultimately want to test themselves at the highest level but I’ve never personally chatted with anyone about it. So, we’ll see, there have been fantastic coaching teams that have gone in the past. I’m sure they would all be keen to put their hands up again in the future.

Stuart Lancaster open to coaching the British & Irish Lions with South Africa tour on the horizon
Stuart Lancaster open to coaching the British & Irish Lions with South Africa tour on the horizon

“But let’s hope we’re in a position, probably this time next year, where we’re actively debating who is going on that tour and it’s going to be a fantastic tour, and everything that we hoped for will happen. But equally, who is to know how long this is going to go on, it’s just so hard to look too far ahead. My mind is very much focused on doing what’s right for today to help society get through tomorrow.”

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British and Irish Lions continue pressure to move Premiership final over plans for £10m match

The British and Irish Lions are to continue pressing Premiership Rugby to move their Gallagher Premiership final from its scheduled slot on June 26, 2021, so that they can play a £10million match in the UK, probably at Twickenham, ahead of departure for South Africa for the three-Test series. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.

British and Irish Lions continue pressure to move Premiership final over plans for £10m match
British and Irish Lions continue pressure to move Premiership final over plans for £10m match

Talks have been ongoing but have yet to find any resolution, even though the official schedule for the eight-match trip is to be officially released at 9 am on Wednesday.

Pro14 has already complied with a request from the Lions to free up that weekend before their departure so that a match can be staged to help raise funds as well as give those players not involved in the end-of-season finals extra preparation time. The Pro14 final that season will now be played on June 19.

There has been a huge concern that Lions tours have been stripped back to the bare bones with the agreed length of tour cut from the 10 games in six weeks itinerary that was employed in New Zealand in 2017, a compressed schedule in its way from previous tours. However, there has been little sign of any leeway being granted to the Lions in their desire to get meaningful game practice before traveling to South Africa to take on the world champions.

Warren Gatland, who has just arrived back in New Zealand to take up a one-season posting with the Chiefs ahead of his return in autumn 2020 to fulfill duties as Lions head coach for the third time, has been vocal in his desire to get a game played before the squad heads south. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.

British and Irish Lions continue pressure to move Premiership final over plans for £10m match
British and Irish Lions continue pressure to move Premiership final over plans for £10m match

“They have said they are not moving their final which I find very disappointing,” said Gatland recently. “I am saying to the clubs and the Premiership, embrace the Lions, you are going to play the world champions. There is an opportunity for players to go on a Lions tour and come back as superstars.

“They can sell more tickets and then kids want to watch them play. We are just missing a trick here. I cannot understand why the Premiership would not want to be more positive about the Lions and do more to help the Lions. It is the one frustrating thing I will have to deal with. Hopefully, common sense will prevail.”

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British and Irish Lions Tour: World Rugby chief Bill Beaumont says the crisis could spark packed calendar reform

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont believes that the “spirit of collaboration” the sport has witnessed in response to the coronavirus pandemic will lead to a new international calendar. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.

British and Irish Lions Tour: World Rugby chief Bill Beaumont says the crisis could spark packed calendar reform
British and Irish Lions Tour: World Rugby chief Bill Beaumont says the crisis could spark packed calendar reform

The former England captain was behind plans for a new two-tier Nations Championship encompassing Europe’s Six Nations and the southern hemisphere Rugby Championship that collapsed last year amid reports that the likes of Scotland were concerned by the risk of relegation from what is currently a “closed” event.

But Beaumont, who must see off a challenge from Argentinian vice-chairman Agustin Pichot if he is to be re-elected, believes the ongoing global shutdown of the sport caused by the virus has caused many within the game to rethink their views.

This week saw the world governing body launched a US$100 million (S$142.2 million) virus relief package and Beaumont, 68, has been heartened by the co-operation shown by countries as they plan for a time when rugby can resume.

“I’m pretty confident that there will be a variation of the Nations Cup,” he told BBC Radio on Saturday (April 18).

“I think there’s a real spirit of collaboration between the north and the south, looking at what we can do with our playing windows and international windows that can generate more funds in another competition.

“You have to look at the calendar – the British and Irish Lions tour every four years, the Rugby World Cup every four years,” added Beaumont, himself a former Lions skipper.

“You are pretty foolish if you don’t learn lessons,” insisted Beaumont, who had previously warned there might be no more international rugby played this year.

That would be a huge blow to the sport, given finances from internationals help subsidize all levels of the game. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.

The All Blacks accepted a 50 percent pay freeze on Thursday as New Zealand’s players’ association said it was preparing for the nightmare scenario of no more professional rugby this year. Rugby Australia alone is forecasting losses of A$120 million (S$108.6 million) if the entire domestic season is wiped out.

British and Irish Lions Tour: World Rugby chief Bill Beaumont says the crisis could spark packed calendar reform
British and Irish Lions Tour: World Rugby chief Bill Beaumont says the crisis could spark packed calendar reform

Former Pumas scrum-half and captain Pichot launched his bid to become World Rugby chairman last week, with the 45-year-old saying the virus outbreak provided an opportunity for the “global realignment” of the game that should see its commercial income “moving on from the time where those benefits were for just a few”.

He promptly received backing from former England World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward, who played in Test sides captained by Beaumont.

Woodward said the equality and diversity needed in the global game was hampered by an imbalance of power on World Rugby’s council that sees the established Six Nations and Rugby Championship countries have three votes each, while the likes of “Tier Two” Fiji and Samoa have just one vote each.

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British and Irish Lions Tour: Building the perfect rugby player

Having left the half-backs behind with our look at the fly-half position, we now turn our attentions to the midfield proper, with an examination of the roles and responsibilities that are required at inside centre. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.

British and Irish Lions Tour: Building the perfect rugby player
British and Irish Lions Tour: Building the perfect rugby player

There is scope for a number of different playstyles at the position, which make locking down the key attributes at 12 challenging, though there are some that are absolutes and that any player playing the position must have if they want to thrive in the role.

As ever, we have identified five of those key attributes below and highlighted the players who currently best exhibit those qualities on the pitch.

One of the primary abilities an inside centre needs to bring is success at the gain-line as a ball-carrier. It doesn’t have to be by running through and over defenders, although with space often limited at the position by aggressive defences, there needs to be an element of being able to win those collisions when necessary.

Few players are as competent ball-carriers as New Zealand’s Ngani Laumape, with the centre having dazzled in Super Rugby prior to his international debut in 2017. A wealth of midfield options means that Laumape is not always a regular for the All Blacks, though his ball-carrying skills are as adept as anyone that New Zealand can call upon, with the Hurricane able to evade contact as well as he can find it.

Linked very much to that ability to be a ball-carrier, physicality is also key for any inside centre, with the aforementioned lack of space and requirement to take contact sometimes unavoidable. That power is not only generated through size, but also through a player’s speed and their footwork prior to and during contact. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.

As with the scrum-half and fly-half positions, decision-making is another key attribute for inside centres. Along with the two half-back positions, inside centres are responsible for finding and creating space in attack, rather than eating it up themselves, and making the right decisions at the right time on the pitch allows them to do this.

British and Irish Lions Tour: Building the perfect rugby player
British and Irish Lions Tour: Building the perfect rugby player

New Zealand’s Anton Lienert-Brown ticks that box emphatically, with the rounded attacking skill set to hurt teams as a ball-carrier or as a distributor, and the game understanding to know when each is required. Furthermore, his defensive decision-making is also very impressive and the All Black midfield and back line will not regularly find themselves outnumbered or out of position because of the Chief’s decisions on that side of the ball.

In South Africa’s Damian de Allende, you have a premium example of this ‘shiftiness’ and it proved vital to the Springboks at the recent Rugby World Cup. He is able to find swiftly closing holes in defensive lines thanks to his acceleration and his footwork, and the puncturing of a defence that he is able to achieve sucks in more defenders and creates space and opportunities for other players in subsequent phases.

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British and Irish Lions Tour: Every country the Lions have faced outside of ‘The Big Three’

Over the past 30 years, the British and Irish Lions have had a consistent diary, whereby they tour one of South Africa, Australia or New Zealand every four years. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.

This structure may be in jeopardy though, as World Rugby chairman candidate Augustin Pichot seeks to expand the Lions tour from ‘The Big Three’ to a worldwide scale.

British and Irish Lions Tour: Every country the Lions have faced outside of 'The Big Three'
British and Irish Lions Tour: Every country the Lions have faced outside of ‘The Big Three’

This is a reasonable desire of his given the growth and development of the game in other parts of the world, such as Argentina, as well as Japan, who have never played the historic team before. A potential fixture between the Lions and the Brave Blossoms has been discussed recently, which could take place before the 2021 tour to South Africa.

It seems inevitable that the schedule of the Lions will change again in the coming the years, as, after all, even the concept of a tour of Australia was once far less frequent than to South Africa or New Zealand. The Lions have only played the Wallabies 23 times (losing six and winning 17), including only one test in over 40 years in the first half of the 20th century.

This does not mean that the Lions have not played any other countries throughout their illustrious history, which began in 1888 with a tour of New Zealand and Australia, and saw them play their first ever Test match in 1891 against South Africa. In fact, there are some surprising names the Lions have faced along the way, and here they are:

Argentina

Under the name ‘British Combined’ in May and June 1910, a team of 16 Englishmen and three Scots toured Argentina, playing the national side and beating them 28-3. Bizarrely, this coincided with another Lions tour of southern Africa.

The Lions returned nine years later in 1936, where they would play ten matches, including ones against Argentina A and B sides, but only one Test in which they won 23-0 in Buenos Aires.

It would be 79 more years before the two sides met again, when Sir Clive Woodward’s side hosted the Pumas at the Millennium Stadium in 2005 ahead of the ill-fated tour of New Zealand. The game finished in a 25-25 draw, which was one of the signs during that period that Argentina deserved to compete against the best. However, that remains the last time the two sides played each other.

Zimbabwe

Between 1910 and 1974, the Lions played Zimbabwe (although named Southern Rhodesia or Rhodesia during that period) nine times, sandwiched in tours of South Africa, winning all encounters.

The first was in 1910 in Bulawayo, where the Lions won 24-11 before losing a Test series against South Africa. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.

The two sides met again in 1924 at the Salisbury Sports Ground, amid a 21-match tour which also saw the Lions lose to South Africa in a four-match series.

British and Irish Lions Tour: Every country the Lions have faced outside of 'The Big Three'
British and Irish Lions Tour: Every country the Lions have faced outside of ‘The Big Three’

A 24-match tour in 1938, where the Lions lost 2-1 to the Springboks, saw them play Zimbabwe twice, which they also did in 1955 during a 25-match tour of Africa, which finished with a 2-2 series draw against South Africa.

Only three more contests would be played between the two, during the 1962 and 1968 tours, in which South Africa were victorious, and the 1974 tour, which was won by the Lions.

Sri Lanka

The Lions have played Sri Lanka twice in their history, although named Ceylon at the time, winning both.

The first match came en route the journey home after a 28-match tour of New Zealand and Australia in 1930, where the visitors lost the series 3-1 to the former and 1-0 to the latter. The tour ended on a positive note though, with a 45-0 win over Sri Lanka at the Colombo Racecourse.

The same venue played host to their second clash 20 years later in 1950. This was once again after a 29-match tour of New Zealand and Australia, where the Lions were slightly more successful this time, losing three matches against the All Blacks, but winning both matches they had with Australia. Their match with Sri Lanka on the journey home had a similar scoreline to their first meeting, with the Lions winning 44-6. 

Namibia South West Africa

Just as Zimbabwe were, contests with Namibia (known as South West Africa when they faced the Lions) were added to the itinerary for the Lions during their tours of South Africa in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

The Lions faced Namibia on four occasions, in 1955, 1962, 1968 and 1974, with every match played in Windhoek, and the Lions coming out victorious in each one of them. 

East Africa

Fixtures against East Africa were also part of the schedule during the 1955 and 1962 Lions tours of Africa. This team was comprised of players from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and both contests were played at the Ngong Road Ground in Nairobi, Kenya, with the Lions winning the first in 1955 39-12 and the second in 1962 50-0. 

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The British & Irish Lions will embark on their tour to South Africa to take on the reigning world champion Springboks

The Lions finished the 2013 tour to Australia with a 2-1 series victory before splitting the 2017 series in New Zealand 1-1-1. To keep the unbeaten streak alive, the Lions will need to bring a massively physical effort if they’re to withstand the brutality of South Africa over three games. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.

The British & Irish Lions will embark on their tour to South Africa to take on the reigning world champion Springboks
The British & Irish Lions will embark on their tour to South Africa to take on the reigning world champion Springboks

Head coach Warren Gatland, in charge of his third B&I Lions tour, will surely look to field a side chalked full of physicality, but possessing enough firepower to put points on the board.

As we all saw in the World Cup final when the Boks manhandled England, South Africa will back itself on winning the collisions, controlling the set-piece, and dominating territory.

It’s truly far too early to make these decisions, but if the first test was this weekend, here’s how we’d pick the Lions:

1. Mako Vunipola | England

Vunipola is the definition of a workhorse, consistently posting double-digit tackle counts for England, while also serving as one of the best front row ball carriers in the world.

2. Ken Owens | Wales

In a series that will be as physical as this one, you’ve got to play your hardest men. Ken Owens exemplifies toughness, relentlessness, and aggression, and you’ll only ever see him going full tilt.

3. Kyle Sinckler | England

Devastated to have been knocked out in the opening minutes of the World Cup final, nobody will be chomping at the bit for a crack at the Boks more than Sinckler. He’s physically one of the best props in the world, but what sets him apart from the pack is his incredible ball skills and ability in open play.

4. Maro Itoje | England

A potential captain for this tour, there’s likely to be no more important player on the pitch than Itoje. A complete game-wrecker on defense and a master in the set-piece, he is on his way to becoming the best player on the planet. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.

5. Alun Wyn Jones | Wales

This will almost certainly be Alun Wyn Jones’ fourth and final tour with the Lions, but the Welsh skipper is still at the peak of his powers. Look no further than the 2019 year to see that AWJ is still among the best leaders and all-around figures in the game of rugby.

6. Tom Curry | England

England employed two opensides throughout the World Cup, and the results were magnificent. 21-year-old Tom Curry established himself as one of the best back-row players on the planet, particularly through his work at the breakdown.

7. Justin Tipuric | Wales

Having been in Sam Warburton’s shadow for so long, Tipuric finally stepped into the spotlight in 2019 and was nothing short of spectacular. He never misses a tackle and has the skills and speed to play anywhere.

8. Billy Vunipola | England

Billy V had a tough go of it against the Springboks last time out, but there’s nobody in the home nations that get the team forward as well as Vunipola. He will be itching to get some revenge against South Africa.

The British & Irish Lions will embark on their tour to South Africa to take on the reigning world champion Springboks
The British & Irish Lions will embark on their tour to South Africa to take on the reigning world champion Springboks

9. John Cooney | Ireland

This pick may come as some surprise, given that Conor Murray is still the starter for Ireland, but anyone who watches the Guinness PRO14 can tell you that the best player over the past few seasons has been Ulster’s, John Cooney. He’s a true leader, a spark plug, and a sharpshooter with the boot that is someone the whole team can and will rally around in South Africa.

10. Owen Farrell | England

Farrell brings the physicality and the territorial control that the Lions are going to need of their fly-half. He’s both a cool customer and a motivator at the same time, and his kicking for goal will be vital.

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British and Irish Lions Tour: Grant Fox’s verdict on proposed North vs South clash as All Blacks prepare for 18-month season

All Blacks selector Grant Fox is preparing for the possibility of an 18-month season when domestic and international rugby returns to action following the global coronavirus lockdown. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.

British and Irish Lions Tour: Grant Fox's verdict on proposed North vs South clash as All Blacks prepare for 18-month season
British and Irish Lions Tour: Grant Fox’s verdict on proposed North vs South clash as All Blacks prepare for 18-month season

Speaking to Sky Sports, the former All Blacks first-five confirmed that the coaches and selectors of the national side are beginning to view this elongated break to the 2020 campaign as a new “off-season”.

Super Rugby remains suspended after being brought to a halt three weeks ago after seven rounds of the regular season. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.

No date has been set for the competition’s return, and international tours from northern hemisphere sides travelling south of the equator in July have been put on hold.

Wales and Scotland were set to face the All Blacks across three test matches in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin in two months’ time, but those fixtures look increasingly unlikely to take place.

The Rugby Championship, which is due to kick off in August, is the next competition in the firing line, adding to the uncertainty of rugby both domestically and internationally.

Fox said a raft of alternative options was being considered by New Zealand Rugby as the economic implications of no scheduled rugby fixtures had the organization staring down the barrel of a multimillion-dollar loss in revenue.

British and Irish Lions Tour: Grant Fox's verdict on proposed North vs South clash as All Blacks prepare for 18-month season
British and Irish Lions Tour: Grant Fox’s verdict on proposed North vs South clash as All Blacks prepare for 18-month season

“You could argue right now we’re in our off-season, because we’re not playing. We might consider this our summer, as we head into winter, and rugby gets played over next summer,” the 1987 World Cup winner told Sky Sports.

“We could be impacted for the next 18 months, in terms of what a schedule would look like. We hope by 2021 there’s some form of normality, but it could mean that we’re not playing rugby for a prolonged period of time.”

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British & Irish Lions keen to add the ninth match to 2021 tour with Twickenham seen as a potential venue

The British & Irish Lions are still keen to add a ninth match to their tour to South Africa in 2021 a lucrative ‘home’ fixture – but Premiership Rugby continue to block the idea. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.

British & Irish Lions keen to add ninth match to 2021 tour with Twickenham seen as potential venue
British & Irish Lions keen to add ninth match to 2021 tour with Twickenham seen as potential venue

The Lions will announce their fixture list on Wednesday morning, and as Sportsmail has reported previously the trip will consist of eight games in five weeks; down from 10 on previous tours.

It is believed they still hold out hope of adding one extra game on home shores – possibly to be played at Twickenham – for Saturday, June 26, 2021. That is the date of the Premiership final, so they would need the English league to move their showpiece a week back like the Pro14 have done.

At present, though, Premiership Rugby will not budge to allow the Lions an extra week’s preparation and the chance to make around £10m from the home game – which could be fed back to the clubs and unions. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.

Lions coach Warren Gatland exclusively told Sportsmail last month: ‘I think we’re missing a trick. I cannot understand why PRL would not want to be more positive about doing more to help the Lions and embrace it.’

British & Irish Lions keen to add ninth match to 2021 tour with Twickenham seen as potential venue
British & Irish Lions keen to add ninth match to 2021 tour with Twickenham seen as potential venue

Meanwhile Northampton boss Chris Boyd has said he would not release his attack coach Sam Vesty if England ever came calling. Eddie Jones lost Australian guru Scott Wisemantel after the World Cup. Vesty went on the Argentina tour of 2017 with England, and runs the attack for the Saints who are top of the league.

But Boyd said: ‘I wouldn’t be releasing him that’s for sure. Everybody’s got their price, but Sam’s a bit more about job than money I think.’

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British and Irish Lions Tour: Truncated tour of South Africa removes the last vestige of romance from Lions

Every four years the British & Irish Lions unveil a tantalizing tour schedule and invite thousands of supporters to sign up for the trip of a lifetime, in this instance to South Africa in 2021. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.

British and Irish Lions Tour: Truncated tour of South Africa removes the last vestige of romance from Lions
British and Irish Lions Tour: Truncated tour of South Africa removes the last vestige of romance from Lions

A three-Test series on Springbok soil remains one of the sport’s truly great adventures but seldom has there been a stronger sense of the golden goose being potentially suffocated by the constraints of self-interest and the global calendar.

Amid all the anticipation of a gripping three-Test series against the reigning world champions which could break all previous box office records, it is important to examine the small print. Not only have Premiership Rugby now formally slammed the door shut on any possibility of shifting the date of its 2021 final on 26 June to accommodate crucial extra preparation time but the scheduling of only two early midweek games sums up the fast-changing times.

To a great extent, it signals the end for that most time-honored of rugby characters, the midweek dirt-tracker. Much of the glorious Lions myth is built upon the twin pillars of genuine competition for Test places and the all-for-one ethos of those cast in supporting roles.

An eight-match tour with no competitive warm-up component means the head coach Warren Gatland can travel with a smaller squad who, for the most part, will know their place in the pecking order before embarkation. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.

There are player welfare benefits from playing fewer games and not having to worry about a midweek fixture in the build-up to the first Test but eight-match Lions tours 2025 and 2029 will be the same threaten to remove any last vestige of romance attached to the concept.

Even if the players bond instantly the timescale is almost insanely tight if Gatland wants to mold a side capable of beating a pumped-up South Africa in front of nearly 90,000 supporters at Soweto’s FNB Stadium on 24 July.

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Warren Gatland proposes British and Irish Lions vs New Zealand ‘decider’ as a warm-up for 2021 South Africa tour

British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland wants his team to play a warm-up match against the All Blacks before their tour of South Africa next year. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.

British and Irish Lions Tour: Billy Vunipola England number eight recalls his Welsh rugby roots
British and Irish Lions Tour: Billy Vunipola England number eight recalls his Welsh rugby roots

Rugby, like most other sports, has been halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic and Gatland, who coached the Lions in their drawn series in New Zealand in 2017, said the one-off ‘decider’ could generate much-needed revenue when the sport resumes.

The 56-year-old added that he had broached the subject of the Lions playing the All Blacks to New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson but that they could play New Zealand Maori as an alternative. Rugby fans can book British and Irish Lions Tour Tickets on our website on exclusively discounted prices.

“I’ve spoken to Mark Robinson about a warm-up game for the Lions and he was potentially talking about the New Zealand Maoris,” Gatland told Sky Sports New Zealand. Potentially it’s an opportunity to make £4m or £5m from a game like that and put some money back into the coffers that we’re going to need.”

British and Irish Lions Tour: Billy Vunipola England number eight recalls his Welsh rugby roots
British and Irish Lions Tour: Billy Vunipola England number eight recalls his Welsh rugby roots

Gatland stepped down as Wales coach after guiding them to the World Cup semi-finals last year and currently coaches Super Rugby side Waikato Chiefs. He will take a year off from that role to lead the Lions on their tour.

The Lions play the first test of the three-match series in South Africa at the Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg on 24 July 2021, with the second test to be staged at the Cape Town Stadium a week later.

The final test will be played at the Springboks’ traditional fortress of Ellis Park in Johannesburg on 7 August.

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