June International Tours

Six Wasps to add sting to British and Irish Lions bite

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The British and Irish Lions are reported to have asked for five of Wales’ Grand Slam winning coaching team to join Head Coach Ian McGeechan (pictured) on next year’s tour to South Africa in June making a coaching team of six current or former London Wasps.


It is widely known that the Lions wanted Warren Gatland and Shaun Edwards who have both been involved with Wasps over the past few years.


McGeechan is Director of Rugby at Wasps and Shaun Edwards is Wasps Head Coach. Gatland himself was Wasps Director of Rugby before he returned to New Zealand in 2005 to coach Waikato.


The Lions want former Wasp, Rob Howley to join the coaching team along with two other former Wasps. They want Craig White to head the fitness team and Rhys Long to manage analysis.


Warren Gatland looks set to take charge of the forwards, Shaun Edwards to look after the defence, Rob Howley to manage attack.


In total that is five of the current Wales setup but six who have been involved with Wasps this decade.


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According to the Guardian, the Welsh Rugby Union’s board of directors will agree to the request today even though Wales tour the United States and Canada next summer.


WRU chairman, David Pickering has stressed that losing all of their coaches for the Lions would not act as a barrier for their decision.


“It is not for me to say who the Lions are considering for their coaching team, nor will we be announcing anything after our board meeting, because the Lions will be revealing all next week,” he said to the Guardian.


“It would be a tribute to our management team were any of them to join up with the Lions and it would fittingly reflect on the excellent work they have done with us.


“Our stance on any approach is that we are part of the Lions and fully support them. We expect to receive a large financial contribution from the tour but this is something that is about giving, not receiving. We have to weigh up the objectives we have for Welsh rugby but the tour to north America will be about development of coaches as well as players.”


All of the coaches have that Wasps link but they also cover all four home unions.


Gatland was Ireland’s head coach between 1998 and 2001, White worked for Ireland early this decade, McGeechan had two spells coaching Scotland and, like Edwards, works for an English club.


Welshman Howley toured South Africa with the Lions as a player in 1997, the last time McGeechan was the tourists’ head coach and the last time they won a series.


In contrast to Clive Woodward’s Lions style, the next batch of Lions will consist of no more that 36 players. There will be a considerably smaller backroom staff


McGeechan, Gatland, Edwards and Howley will prepare the side for each match and White, who was a fitness coach with the Lions three years ago, will head the conditioning team.


White followed Gatland from Ireland to Wasps in 2002 and later became Leicester’s strength and conditioning coach and was appointed Wales’s national performance manager until the 2011 World Cup.

 

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