A minor spat broke out today over the timing of the first get together for the Lions squad.
Mark McCall was annoyed that he was losing 6 players in arguably the most important week of the season for the club.
“There is a Lions get-together on Monday which seems to be quite unbelievable that it is then given it is the most important week of the season,”
“You’d have thought someone would have had the foresight to see that it might affect the club. I think Leinster had this problem and yet it is still there.
“Hopefully, in four years’ time it will be taken out of the calendar. Last Monday, for example, might have been a more sensible time to hold it. It does impact our training week.
“We won’t train on Monday and will shorten our week to train in a six-day week. We don’t want our players not to go to be with the Lions. It is very important for them and very important for us that they enjoy that day and put it to one side and have on their focus on Clermont from Tuesday.”
It’s hard to disagree to be honest.
Warren Gatland came out in defence of the timing –
The reasoning is that the date was decided some time ago.
Gloucester also lost Ross Moriarty and Greg Laidlaw ahead of their Challenge Cup final on Friday night.
Had Leinster or Munster progressed to the Champions Cup final they would also have lost a day in the week of the final.
The fact is that this is yet another example of poor decisions from the Lions management. The chances of a high number of selected squad being involved in the finals were pretty high – so why not prepare for that?
To be fair, in the overall scheme of dumb planning this one is way down the list behind the timing (the squad leave just 3 days before the first game) and the approved itinerary, which is the hardest that any Lions tour has ever faced – even Graham Henry described it a suicidal.
If the Lions are to continue – and the reduction in the number of matches from 2021 is a warning – then there is a major requirement to have a management team with half a clue!