Premiership will not move play-off final to accommodate Lions’ training

first_imgReuse this content New rugby union season makes Lions an ‘impossible challenge’, warns Spencer Since you’re here… news Read more British & Irish Lions Premiership Rugby will not bring its play-off final in 2021 forward to allow the British & Irish Lions to train for a week before flying out to South Africa, but its chief executive, Mark McCafferty, says English clubs were not trying to squeeze the tourists out of the fixture schedule.Future Lions tours will be cut from 10 to eight matches and without a training week for the entire squad, they will have little time to blend players from four countries. John Spencer, the manager to New Zealand last year, has said he is concerned about the future of European rugby’s leading brand because the tight schedule would turn a tour into a mission impossible.“The Lions will always be part of the rugby schedule, for sure,” said McCafferty. “It is a question of trying to help them and we have been trying to do that. We want them to engage more fully with the clubs and not just see themselves as partners of the unions. That is not easy, sometimes, but is definitely the way forward.“There is no way that the Lions will never form part of the system, but there has to be sufficient preparation in advance of a tour. We had a ridiculous situation a few years ago when players appearing in the European Cup final that weekend were dragged away on the Monday to a Lions do. It led to a conflict and the day before the Lions left for Hong Kong in 2013, we were resolving an issue over insurance.”A number of club officials said after last year’s tour that the length of a Lions tour had to be cut in the interests of player welfare, threatening to withhold their players if the schedules were not curtailed. They also wanted a hike in the £60,000 they received for each player. The Observer Share on LinkedIn Share on Pinterest Rugby union … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay. Whether we are up close or further away, the Guardian brings our readers a global perspective on the most critical issues of our lifetimes – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. We believe complex stories need context in order for us to truly understand them. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Support The Guardian Share on Facebook Share via Email “It is not all one-way,” said McCafferty. “We need to become more empathetic in some areas. It is a complex issue and people have strong views about it, but I am confident that we will move on and that things will improve.”The Premiership season in 2020‑21 will be played over 10 months, from 12 September until 26 June, the date of the final at Twickenham. The campaign will be 17 days longer than the current one, but the slack will be used to reduce the number of overlaps between league and international fixtures rather than accommodate the Lions.“Is it possible to see a time where there are no overlaps? Yes, but it would require changing competition formats and we are not ready for that,” said McCafferty. “What we are seeing in all this is that the game is continuing to evolve.” Topics Share on WhatsApp Share on Twitter Share on Messenger Premiershiplast_img