Ian McGeechan has spoken out on how the Lions are to be successful in the future, claiming that more preparation time is needed, and that Lions Tours should be prioritised over other competitions.
“It was a little bit tight and there was a bit of persuasion involved to have the full set of players for that week but we got round that” said the Lions head coach.
The Rugby Blog readers will remember the consternation caused when Northampton refused to release Euan Murray for the first Lions get together in May.
“The only two major things on the IRB calendar are the Lions tours and the World Cup so you would hope that there is enough planning that goes into that. People need to understand just how big a Lions tour is to a player. That hasn’t changed and if anything it’s got better and bigger and I hope that the people who are associated with the players on a long term basis understand that there should be a very careful look at how you prepare for a Lions tour.”
“I think you have different people running different elements of the game and I think you want to have that co-ordinated because the Lions are an integral part of the professional game – just because the Lions have been around doesn’t mean they are out of date or out of touch. Speak to any of the players, there is nothing bigger than this – nothing bigger – and that includes World Cups in the players’ eyes. That has to be taken into account by the people who run the game – particularly the home unions and the clubs and they have to understand that there should be an integrated and coordinated process in a Lions season.
McGeechan went on to say that despite these difficulties, the standard of rugby played by the Lions was superb. “It exceeded my expectations – we knew that South Africa were in good shape they are a powerful team and at the top of the tree at the moment, but we also knew that there were certain ways we would have to play to try and put them under pressure. They do have strengths in most areas so really to pull the game we’ve put together and to keep that going for three Test matches with a change of personnel leaves me really very proud of that achievement from everybody.”
“This group of players are as tight a unit as I have ever worked with under pressure. I think last Saturday was the lowest I have ever felt, and we took those two or three days off, but they came back well and trained Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and they were superb – absolutely excellent. The players have been outstanding and were very ready for a Test match and I’m really proud of the way we’ve finished it and we can carry a winning Lions jersey for the next four years.”
Roll on Australia 2013.