Tuesday 16 January 2018

Plans to shorten Lions tours 'bordering on insanity' - John Spencer

John Spencer fears for the future of the Lions if tours are shortened to suit the clubs
John Spencer fears for the future of the Lions if tours are shortened to suit the clubs

Plans to shorten future British and Irish Lions tours are "bordering on insanity" according to tour manager John Spencer.

There is expected to be pressure from clubs in particular to cut the 2021 tour from six weeks to five, although the next three-tour cycle of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand has been agreed in principle with a minimum of eight games each time.

A refusal of club competitions to bring forward their domestic finals meant the Lions were forced to play their first tour match against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians just three days after their long-haul flight, and Spencer fears any further encroachment in future will seriously jeopardise the Lions' future.

"If they take a couple of matches away from us, all coaches think that is madness, bordering on insanity - voluntary insanity," he told the Daily Telegraph.

"If we are not careful with preparation I think the Lions could be a dead concept. The clubs would be killing it by demanding extra things every year - shorter tours, fewer matches, less preparation.

"Meanwhile, with one fewer match before the first Test, the Lions would come under incredible pressure from the host nation.

"It is easy to say, 'Don't play the midweek matches' but how do we prepare? Our tour has to have moral force.

"We are going to put so much pressure on the coaches and players at the end of a busy season and they will eventually, because it is such an impossible task, not want to go."

Press Association

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