Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

ARU float 'Southern Lions' idea

The British and Irish Lions may not just be coming up against Australia players in 2015 if Bill Pulver gets his wish

The British and Irish Lions will face their greatest challenge yet in 2015 if an ambition of Australian Rugby Union chief executive Bill Pulver is realised.

Pulver would like to see Australia, New Zealand and South Africa unite to form a team that would face the home nations to mark the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli in two years' time.

"I would love the idea if you could find a southern hemisphere combination," Pulver said. "I'd even be happy with an ANZAC team, taking the best of Australia and New Zealand. Imagine playing a combined Australia-New Zealand team against an allies team."

He added: "We've got a cycle coming up where you have a Lions tour in one year, you have a World Cup in one year and we've now got an Olympic Games in one year.

"So in some ways there's an extra year that opens itself up to a couple of interesting concepts.

"We're about to embark with the Australian Rugby Union on a strategic planning process and it really does invite a lot of creative thought to think of a Lions equivalent from the southern hemisphere.

"We're not very far down the track at all in terms of discussion around that.

"Some of the countries in the southern hemisphere are concerned about the amount of rugby that their senior players are playing, so it needs to be addressed in that context."

Regardless of whether Australia repeat their 2001 series triumph against the Lions when the rivals meet in Saturday's deciding Test in Sydney, the tour will be viewed as a success due to the money it has raised for the ARU.

"It has unquestionably helped the financial coffers of Australian rugby," Pulver said. "It's filled a good hole. We had aggressive budgets in place and it's met those budgets."

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