2021 LIONS BOW TO PRES­SURE...

NZ Rugby World - - The Breakdown -

RE­PORTS OUT OF

ENG­LAND are sug­gest­ing that the next two British & Ir­ish Lions tours will be cut to just eight games each.

Ac­cord­ing to The Guardian news­pa­per, the short­ened tours are a re­sult of pres­sure hav­ing been ap­plied by the Premier­ship clubs who are wor­ried about player work­loads.

The pa­per has re­ported that the British and Ir­ish Lions tour to South Africa in 2021 will be cut to eight matches as will the next one in 2025 to Aus­tralia.

Such spec­u­la­tion was rife when the Lions were in New Zealand this year. There were fears that the fa­mous old team may sim­ply lose its place in the tour­ing cal­en­dar as it was too hard to jus­tify their ex­is­tence.

But such a dras­tic sce­nario ap­pears to have been avoided with a com­pro­mise agree­ment to shorten the next two tours.

The Lions played 10 matches on their re­cent trip to New Zealand, but their first fix­ture was played just three days after the team’s ar­rival and, ac­cord­ing to The Guardian report, the play­ers were so jet-lagged that at least one fell asleep on the coach to the game against a New Zealand Bar­bar­ians side in Whangarei.

There are also con­cerns that nei­ther South Africa nor Aus­tralia would be able to pro­vide ad­e­quate com­pe­ti­tion across 10 games as hap­pened in New Zealand.

“Each tour will be looked at on its mer­its,” said an ad­min­is­tra­tor quoted by The Guardian.

“We will be keep­ing an open mind. A shorter tour means longer prepa­ra­tion time and clearly had the Lions been in South Africa this year, it is un­likely that there would have been the 10 mean­ing­ful fix­tures that there were in New Zealand, where the strength of the warm-up teams meant the Lions went into the test se­ries bat­tle-hard­ened.”

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