British and Irish Lions legend McBride strongly opposed to home series

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Legendary former British and Irish Lions player Willie John McBride has slammed the proposal of staging a series against the Springboks in the UK.

McBride said this week that the heritage and ethos of the Lions would be “damaged forever” if the series was held at home in the UK.

McBride slams British and Irish Lions home series proposal

The board of the British and Irish Lions will meet to discuss whether to continue with the eight-match Lions tour in July and August as fears mount that fans will not be allowed to travel and attend matches in South Africa.

While a home series at proposed venues in Dublin, London and Cardiff would generate more revenue than the tour was set to bring in, McBride feels that it would damage the British and Irish Lions brand.

“It would defeat the entire ethos of the Lions if they play a few games here in the home countries. It would be a disgrace. It will defeat everything the Lions stand for. It is not a Lions tour, or a Lions concept of any sorts to play anything here in the home countries.

“You have to play it in South Africa. In my view they should postpone it until next year. Let’s not lose the concept of what the Lions is all about.

If they have to postpone it for three years, it would not matter to me, as long as they retain the concept of what the Lions are all about.”

Tour should go ahead – Best

Former Ireland captain Rory Best asserted that going ahead with the tour as scheduled remains the best option even if the stadiums cannot be full.

“You would still have the atmosphere of being on tour and in a different country and everything that brings and there are cultural things you can do,” Best told the Daily Telegraph.

“From a player’s point of view, if they are able to play with 25 per cent of the capacity and the supporters are all South African, it would still create an atmosphere. And purely from a tour point of view, it would bring you tighter together because it really would be you playing against the nation. I would rather have gone on two tours and not make the Test team than play in a capped game in the UK.”

British and Irish Lions traditions are sacred

Best is also opposed to changes to the tour format, as he feels it could lead to the dismantling of Lions traditions.

“I feel there is already a big push to move the Lions towards just three Saturday [Test] games,” he said: “Once you start to mess around with the fabric of it, the people who want to move it have more scope to move it.

“Those who are banging that drum could say in the future that you played three Tests in the UK and that worked out OK. On the next tour, they might look to play just two lead-in games or one midweek game. It would be a real shame to see the Lions taken apart bit by bit.”

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