Warren Gatland Says He Fears For The British & Irish Lions
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Warren Gatland has revealed that he fears for the future of the British & Irish Lions.
The Lions head coach believes fans should be among those consulted over the future of the famous touring side and questions whether self-interest is behind proposed changes to condense tours.
Reducing the number of fixtures from 10 to eight has been discussed by the game’s leading bodies as part of negotiations over the new global season, which begins after the 2019 World Cup.
Gatland, who will coach the Lions for a second successive tour this summer, has made it clear that the Lions is a special brand, and fears that if it was condensed the Lions would not have the required preparation heading into the Test arena.
On any decisions on future tours there’s a lot of people that need to be consulted,” said Gatland, who was speaking on behalf of Land Rover, a principal partner of the British and Irish Lions.
“Who is making the decisions, potentially for Lions tours to be cut down on numbers? There are a lot of stakeholders, ex-players, the media, fans, sponsors who need to be consulted about the Lions and how you value it.
“What reason are the decisions being made for? Is it for personal interest? Is it for the betterment of the game and fulfilling the Lions as a tradition and an identity?
“The biggest issue we have at the moment is not about the number of games, it’s about preparation.
“If you cut the Lions to eight games and we still turn up in New Zealand with no training in the UK or Ireland as a full squad, and then have limited time in New Zealand before the first match, what have you actually achieved? You’ve not achieved anything.
“It’s an incredibly special brand and it needs to be protected. The potential for it to grow is enormous and it should be something we savour as a brand and an identity.
“And every four years we should do as much as we possibly can to promote the Lions and continue the history and the tradition that the Lions have.”
Former Lions captain Brian O’Driscoll echoed the same sentiment yesterday.