Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

McGeechan: Schedule will hinder Gatland

Sir Ian McGeechan, pictured, believes the domestic schedule will affect the British Lions

Sir Ian McGeechan has claimed his successor as British and Irish Lions coach, Warren Gatland, has been hamstrung by a "short-sighted and unfair" domestic schedule.

McGeechan led the last of his four Lions tours in South Africa four years ago, after which he recommended that this year's trip to Australia should include a longer period between the climax of the club season and the squad's get together. Instead, Gatland will have even less time than the Scot was afforded.

"It is short-sighted and unfair," McGeechan told several national newspapers. "They could have had a couple of midweek domestic matches during the season and finished a week earlier. It's extremely disappointing that they did not take up on that."

The finals of the Aviva Premiership and the RaboDirect Pro12 fall on May 25, with the Lions squad meeting the next day and flying out 24 hours later.

McGeechan added: "They have to be big enough to do these things properly. The Lions is the biggest thing in a player's mind. It's the biggest rugby event too in the eyes of spectators.

"There will always be time constraints. But give Warren a week before departure. That would not be perfect but it would be fair.

"What we've done instead is build in unfairness. He faces an even bigger challenge in that regard than I did in 2009. Does he leave with one hand tied behind his back? Yes, I believe he does."

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