Andy Irvine bemoans British and Irish Lions' fixture congestion

The manager of the British and Irish Lions for their tour of Australia in 2013, Andy Irvine, raises concerns about the schedule of the team's tours.

The manager of the British and Irish Lions for their tour of Australia in 2013, Andy Irvine, has raised concerns about the schedule of the team's tours.

In what will be new coach Warren Gatland's first game as the Lions' coach, they will play in Hong Kong just a week after the Aviva Premiership and RaboDirect Pro12 finals.

"The fixture calendar is far too congested," said Irvine. "Something will have to be done. We have one more Lions tour after next year under the current agreement and, when we renew it, we have to make sure that the Lions have proper preparation time.

"That means the four home unions sitting down with Sanzar (the international organising body of the game in the Southern Hemisphere), the clubs and the International Rugby Board to make sure that we get it right.

"The Lions are hugely popular, as the tens of thousands who follow every tour prove. It is to the benefit of everyone in the game that this unique institution continues because of the interest it generates but that means giving the coaches and players the preparation time they need."

Irvine already has a solution to the fixture congestion problem.

"One solution would be putting the start of the tour back to the middle of June but, with the Rugby Championship having been expanded to include Argentina, we would need to see how that fitted in with the southern hemisphere schedule," he said.

Gatland was named the Lions' coach on Tuesday.

Warren Gatland
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