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Gatland wanted SA Lions tour postponed until this year

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Gatland wanted SA Lions tour postponed until this year Empty Gatland wanted SA Lions tour postponed until this year

Post by Rugby Fan Thu 30 Jun - 1:47

...Gatland says he was left frustrated that the option to postpone the tour by a year was barely discussed, claiming that some of the decision-making was affected by conflicts of interest with the Home Unions prioritising their national teams' preparation for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Gatland revealed that he urged the board to discuss postponing the tour at a meeting during the Six Nations last year – even if it meant the decision could have forced him to stand down as head coach because of contractual commitments with the Chiefs in New Zealand. He had been granted a sabbatical to take the tour last year.

“I was adamant with the board that we needed to seriously discuss postponing the tour if that was the best decision for rugby, even if there was a good chance it would result in me not coaching the team,” said Gatland. “It was disappointing because I saw it as a serious option and saw no reason why the tour couldn’t be going ahead now, when travelling supporters would be allowed and games played in front of capacity crowds with the original schedule.

“South Africa were also understandably desperate for the tour to be postponed because financially it was massive for them to have supporters and tourists there.”

Gatland points to the fact that in 2020 both the International Olympic Committee and Uefa had been able to take respective decisions to postpone the Olympics and the European Championships by a year, despite being more logistically challenging events. Coincidentally, both would overshadow the Lions tour.

But, according to Gatland, the decision-making process was influenced by national demands to stick to the international fixture schedule. The Lions board is made up of the four chief executives from the unions of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales as well as four former Lions from each country, one of whom chairs the board, while Ben Calveley is the managing director.

“Look, the board is there to do the best job for the Lions but sometimes you ask the question - are some of the people on the board a little bit conflicted because they have got other teams to look after and other [national] coaches to satisfy?” he added.

...Gatland believes the solution to avoid any future conflict of interests would be to establish a Lions board made up of independent directors.

“I am not saying that there were not good people on the board who wanted the best for rugby and for the Lions to be successful, but there is no doubt in my mind that some people were slightly conflicted,” he added. “In my opinion if you are on the board of the Lions, then your role and responsibility is to 100 per cent do the best job for the Lions.

Not sure his idea of independent directors would achieve what he wants. The Lions only works, because four unions agree to suspend their own priorities for the sake of the Lions. If the management of the Lions becomes independent of the unions, then they may well start wondering how, exactly, the project serves their interests.

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Gatland wanted SA Lions tour postponed until this year Empty Re: Gatland wanted SA Lions tour postponed until this year

Post by doctor_grey Thu 30 Jun - 12:05

Unfortunately, I doubt the Lions could have been postponed if any of the Home Nations dissented. I know the Premiership clubs would have had a hairball because it would have meant either a truly grueling 2 years which would lead to more injuries and more worn out players. To pull off a Lions this year would have to be at the expense of the national unions reducing or tirvialising their June/July tours, or the clubs with more injured players and more congestion in their Rugby calendar. In theory I agree with Gatland. But in reality I can't see how his idea could work.


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