An Endangered Species

 

The biggest danger for the Lions is not the failure to take chances or the fact that they are 1-0 down in the series.

It is that the Lions may soon be extinct!

This article in yesterday’s Telegraph highlights the risk to the future of Lions tours –

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/rugby-union/2017/06/23/premiership-chiefs-tell-lions-pay-keep-tours-going-current-form/

Ahead of the Lions’ first Test against New Zealand on Saturday, two of the most senior figures in the domestic game spoke out against rugby’s biggest institution being made a special case in a new global calendar after tour chiefs branded moves to reduce the number of fixtures and length of trips as “insane” and claimed the entire structure could be “killed off”.

The clubs are risking the wrath of rugby fans by their statements but in the cold light of day it is hard to dismiss their concerns out of hand – especially with regards to financial considerations and the investment in club rugby.

The fact is that ‘money talks’ as witnessed by the steady recruitment of players from the Southern Hemisphere to the Top 14, Premiership and Pro 12.

The proposed global season makes concessions in World Cup year, will the Lions also be considered a special case?

“It’s unfair on the players to ask what we’re currently asking from them. It’s difficult for the clubs, who are the ones that find, develop, nurture, pay players, to expect that – whatever the money – they are to do without their players for a large part of the season.

 

The most worrying indication from the article for me, is that this doesn’t appear to be an opening position in a negotiation, it looks far more like a line in the sand!

Tour chiefs are adamant that the number of tour games shouldn’t be reduced – to reduce the number of fixtures and length of trips as “insane” and claimed the entire structure could be “killed off”.

The next three tours to SA, Australia and NZ have only been agreed ‘in principle’ and negotiations are continuing. These cannot possibly be finalised without agreement from the employers of the players – and that agreement is patently some way off.

I love the Lions, we were lucky enough to go on the 2001 and 2005 tours and hope that they will continue, but I fear for their very existence beyond 2025.

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