Rugby

British and Irish Lions 2021: Gregor Townsend urges tour answer

Gregor Townsend was fly-half for the Lions’ two Take a look at victories within the sequence win over the Springboks in 1997

The worth of the British and Irish Lions “can’t be underestimated”, says Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend.

The Lions are on account of tour South Africa this summer time, however uncertainty surrounds the journey due to the continued coronavirus pandemic.

Enjoying with out followers, internet hosting matches within the UK and Eire, or delaying till 2022 are all possible options.

However Townsend, a successful vacationer as a participant in 1997, says “an answer have to be discovered” to guard the Lions.

“It’s a big optimistic side of our sport,” mentioned the previous Scotland fly-half.

“So long as it goes forward – whether or not it’s this 12 months or subsequent 12 months – I believe it’s actually necessary we preserve maintain of that.

“Our gamers actually look ahead to it, and are vastly motivated to get on that Lions tour, and I’m very assured the identical is the case in Wales, England and Eire.

“You may’t underestimate the worth the Lions must our sport and what it means to our gamers and our supporters.

“So I simply cross my fingers an answer is discovered and we are able to all get behind that staff, whether or not it’s this 12 months or subsequent 12 months.”

‘This 12 months be higher in the long term’

Alun Wyn Jones began all three Checks towards the All Blacks in 2017

The captains of the 4 residence unions – Owen Farrell, Johnny Sexton, Alun Wyn Jones and Stuart Hogg – have additionally taken half in preliminary talks with Lions bosses, with Hogg including they had been all in settlement that the tour “has to happen indirectly”.

“Whether or not it’s right here or South Africa, so long as the tour takes place in some kind we’ll all be very joyful,” Hogg, twice a Lions vacationer, mentioned.

Wales skipper Alun Wyn Jones, himself a veteran of three Lions excursions, added: “Having been concerned in a couple of, for these chosen, it is a very particular factor.”

Nonetheless, Jones says his choice can be for the tour to go forward in 2021 if doable, moderately than being pushed again a 12 months, which may then affect on preparations for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

“Ideally, for me, if everyone seems to be secure and properly, if it may go forward this 12 months I believe that may be higher in the long term,” he mentioned.

“The one disappointment for whoever is chosen is to not have followers, as a result of to not have followers on the Lions tour can be very totally different.

“Now we have been sound-boarded and concerned in a mini thinktank for those who like, and people had been the issues I mentioned in that assembly.”

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