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Spencer named Lions tour manager

Former England captain John Spencer has been appointed as British and Irish Lions tour manager for the trip to New Zealand in 2017.

The Lions announced 66-year-old Spencer's post on Wednesday, together with ex-Ireland wing Tom Grace being made chairman of the British and Irish Lions board in a role that sees him succeed Welshman Gerald Davies.

Spencer will become the third English Lions tour manager in rugby union's professional era, following Fran Cotton (South Africa 1997) and Bill Beaumont (New Zealand 2005).

Yorkshireman Spencer won 14 England caps between 1969 and 1971, captaining his country on four occasions. He also toured New Zealand with the 1971 Lions.

He has been Rugby Football Union representative on the Lions board since 2008, while he has also served on the Six Nations Council and with the International Rugby Board.

"It is a huge privilege and honour to represent the Lions as tour manager, 46 years after I did so as a player," he said.

"My predecessor Andy Irvine did a fantastic job in Australia (2013), and I am looking forward to following in his footsteps."

The Lions' 2-1 Test series triumph in Australia two years ago was their first since defeating then world champions South Africa in 1997.

Their last New Zealand tour nine years ago, which was headed by England's World Cup-winning supremo Sir Clive Woodward, produced a 3-0 Test series whitewash.

Grace, meanwhile, toured South Africa with the 1974 Lions and won 25 caps for Ireland, eight as skipper.

"It is an honour to be appointed chairman of the British and Irish Lions," he said.

"The Lions represent the core values of our sport, and I am grateful for the opportunity to represent them as chairman.

"It is a privilege to take over from Gerald Davies, who has been a wonderful ambassador for the Lions as a player, tour manager and more recently as chairman."

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