Sport Rugby

Saturday 16 December 2017

Irish boss would have to give up international job to lead Lions in 2013

Rob Cole

If Declan Kidney fancies a shot at coaching the Lions when they head to Australia in 2013, he will have to think twice about any contract extension the IRFU may offer him after next year's World Cup.

Newly appointed Lions team manager Andy Irvine announced his arrival in his new post yesterday by declaring that he wanted his head coach to be in place at least 12 months before the tour and not to be coaching a national side in the 2013 Six Nations.

There wasn't a clash in 2009 because Ian McGeechan was given time off from his director of rugby role at Wasps to mastermind the Lions selection process.

But unless McGeechan changes his mind about retiring from Lions duty, it is likely his successor will come from one of the national coaching set-ups in England, Scotland, Ireland or Wales.

With a Grand Slam under his belt from 2009, and the chance to make a major impact at next year's World Cup, Kidney is in the running for the Lions' top job, alongside Wales' Warren Gatland and Scotland's Andy Robinson.

Both Gatland and Robinson have experience of coaching the Lions in the past -- Gatland was forwards coach in South Africa last year and Robinson went on the 2001 and 2005 tours -- but Kidney's star is rising.


But Irvine's view might make it difficult for any national coach to accept the role without huge understanding and partnership from his national employers.

"I don't think it is feasible for the head coach to run the national side in the Six Nations prior to the tour," said Irvine.

"It would be asking too much of him and I think the national sides would baulk at the idea anyway, because their national coach would have their eyes taken off the ball."

Irvine admitted that all the players who returned from South Africa were keen to go on another Lions tour, as were the coaching and management team. They consider it to be unfinished business after losing the Test series 2-1 to the Springboks.

"We have an open book on who will be considered. I think there are one or two front runners, but I'm not going to mention them by name," added Irvine, who said no appointment would be made before the 2011 World Cup.

"In the past, it has been the most successful and the best of the Home Nations coaches who have been candidates. But these chaps aren't always available because they have highly paid positions and their No 1 priority is to bring success to their national side."

The Lions will play nine matches in Australia, including a three-Test series, and will meet the Barbarians in Hong Kong in a special game before they arrive in Australia.

Irish Independent

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