Mon 21 Jul 2014 | 11:15
B&I Lions should follow ABs lead
Mon 21 Jul 2014 | 11:15
B&I Lions should follow ABs leadSHARE
The British & Irish Lions are under pressure to follow the All Blacks' lead and play a test in the Pacific Islands on the way to New Zealand for their 2017 tour.
The All Blacks recently succumbed to pressure from the Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi and have decided to give back by playing a World Cup warm up game in the Pacific Islands.
It is a great opportunity for the region as well as a siggnificant chance of stance for the New Zealand Rugby Union who will lose out on massive commercial gain by not playing elsewhere, like Tokyo, Hong Kong and Chicago.
One of the games greats, Irish centre Brian O'Driscoll, is now calling on the Lions to follow suit and involve the Pacific Islanders.
"It is probably more of a give than a take for the Lions [to play in the Pacific Islands] but it would be great for the people there and it would probably take away from that commercial feel that the Lions are this commercial juggernaut," O'Driscoll told The Times.
"It might be a clever move from the Lions' point of view to play a game down there."
The Lions have played in the islands before, with Phil Bennett's 1977 side famously losing 25-21 to Fiji in Suva in a test played after they had lost the series 3-1 to the All Blacks in New Zealand.
William Glenwright, the IRB's general manager for Oceania is the man who is tasked with trying to lure the Lions over to the islands for a game in 2017.
"It would be magic," Glenwright said.
"Rugby is so important to the fabric of the three Pacific Island nations and the strength of the brands of teams like the All Blacks, the Wallabies and the Lions is so strong that to have those countries touring the Pacific Islands sends a message that they matter, that they are an important part of world rugby – and they are.
"It is difficult to persuade them to do it when there is no money for them, so you have to find another angle.
"The argument I'll be using is that a match against a Pacific Island in the Pacific Islands won't tick the finance box but it will tick the high performance box.
"It would be great to have that meeting and even just look at the possibility of it [the Lions in the Pacific Islands]. It would send a really good message."
Source: The Times and Stuff NZ