B&I Lions: Farrell already 'talking' to Gatland
REACTION: Ireland boss Andy Farrell said being named the coach of the British and Irish Lions for the 2025 tour of Australia “means the world”.
Farrell will work solely with the combined side from December this year until the conclusion of the tour, meaning he would miss Ireland’s Six Nations campaign in 2025.
The 48-year-old former England dual-code international recently signed an extension to his contract as Ireland coach till the conclusion of the next World Cup in 2027.
Under Farrell’s stewardship, Ireland won a Six Nations Grand Slam last year, the Triple Crown in 2022 and secured a first ever series win in New Zealand.
Ireland also rose to No.1 in the world rankings before last year’s World Cup.
However, they again failed to make it beyond the quarterfinals of the showpiece event following an agonising loss to the All Blacks.
Farrell succeeds Warren Gatland, who has led the Lions on their last three tours to the Southern Hemisphere dating back to 2013.
Farrell was a member of Gatland’s coaching team for the 2013 two-one series win over Australia and tied series with New Zealand in 2017.
“This means the world to me,” Farrell told a London news conference on Thursday to announce his appointment.
He added: “I was always a fan of the Lions but 2013 lit something inside me that made me think ‘I need to get back involved with this’ so to be chosen as head coach is magical.
“I’ve got massive shoes to fill in terms of the people who’ve been before me and Gats [Gatland] has already been in touch.”
The Lions are comprised of leading players from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
They traditionally tour one of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa every four years.
However, they were without their traditional raucous support during their last tour, a 2021 COVID-affected series loss in South Africa.
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Andy’s first interview 🦁
Hear from Andy following his announcement as Lions head coach 👇 pic.twitter.com/rLH74tZsu9
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) January 11, 2024
‘One of the best’
B&I Lions Chairman Ieuan Evans, whose three tours as a player included the victorious 1989 series in Australia, welcomed Farrell’s appointment.
“We know the challenge we face in Australia won’t be easy and to have someone of his stature with the Lions puts us in a great position to replicate the success we enjoyed in 2013,” said the former Wales wing.
Lions Chief Executive Ben Calveley lauded Farrell as “one of the best coaches in the world”.
“His achievements with Ireland in recent years have been exceptional and his coaching experience at Test-match level with Ireland, England and the Lions make him an outstanding candidate for this role,” he added.
Expectations will be high on Farrell to deliver a series win down under with Australian rugby in crisis.
Eddie Jones quit as the Wallabies’ coach after just two wins from nine Tests last year which included a group-stage exit from the World Cup after defeats by Wales and Fiji.
But Farrell said: “Knowing the Australian, psyche, personnel and what it’s like to tour there, I know what this will mean to them. It only comes around once (for an Australian player) every 12 years.
“I know the journey in Australian rugby needs a little bit of repair but we know they want to get it right because it means so much and 2025 is going to be massive.”
Farrell, the father of England’s Owen Farrell, could come up against his former Ireland boss Joe Schmidt with the Kiwi linked to the vacant Australia coach role.
Farrell served as Schmidt’s defence coach with Ireland before succeeding him in 2019.
The Lions begin the 2025 campaign with a game against Argentina in Dublin on June 20.
They face Australia in three Tests in Brisbane on July 19, Melbourne on July 26 and Sydney on August 2.