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9th September 2020

Environment British & Irish Lions: Sir Ian McGeechan backs Stuart Lancaster for 2021 tour

Environment British & Irish Lions: Sir Ian McGeechan backs Stuart Lancaster for 2021 tour


environment Stuart Lancaster with his Leinster players
Lancaster’s Leinster have won all 22 of their games so far this season

Sir Ian McGeechan says he would be “very surprised” if British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland does not strongly consider putting Stuart Lancaster on his coaching ticket for next year’s tour of South Africa.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster’s Sportsound Extra Time, two-time Lions head coach McGeechan said Lancaster has proved himself to be an “outstanding” tactician in four years with Leinster.

Lancaster joined the Irish province as senior coach in 2016 having been sacked by England a year earlier.

Gatland, who will take charge of the Lions for the third consecutive time, is yet to reveal any members of his coaching staff for next summer’s tour, which is scheduled to take place over five weeks between 3 July and 7 August.

“Stuart Lancaster coming to Leinster is doing what he’s best at, what’s he’s good at, [which is] his coaching and his tactical work – particularly attacking wise,” said McGeechan.

“I just think over the last two or three years, we’ve seen the real quality that he has as a coach and probably he got tied up in other things which were non-coaching and non-rugby things which took him away from what he was outstandingly good at.

“The Leinster environment has shown that if you get that right, you can see what comes out of the individual.”

With Lancaster and head coach Leo Cullen at the helm, Leinster have thrived and remain undefeated in 22 games this season, with the chance to retain their Pro14 title this Saturday when they meet Ulster in the final.

McGeechan has featured in three of the last four Lions tour of South Africa, once as a player and twice as head coach.

environment Ian McGeechan
McGeechan was head coach of the 1997 and 2009 tours of South Africa, and was a player in the winning 1974 squad

While the 2021 tour is still scheduled to proceed as planned, South African Rugby have not ruled out postponing it if supporters cannot travel by then.

McGeechan expects Andy Farrell, who has been defence coach on the last two tours, to once again be considered while also suggesting Gatland may have already spoken to Joe Schmidt, who stepped down as Ireland head coach after last year’s World Cup.

“I certainly would have a conversation with him because he knows British and Irish rugby,” McGeechan said.

“He’s been over here for a long time, knows the players and I think Joe would benefit from being part of a Lions coaching group. As coaches you do learn things.

“Just having the conversations about rugby or about a certain player or how you see things, it’s an incredible learning environment to be able to be a part of. I would be very surprised if ‘Gats’ has not had a conversation with Joe. “

Hear the full interview with Sir Ian McGeechan on BBC Radio Ulster from 18:05 BST on Monday evening.


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