Warburton will be 'gutted' if Lions tours are axed

Fri, 30 Jun 2017 12:07
Large british and irish lions fans 2017 800

B&I TOUR SPOTLIGHT: Rival captains Sam Warburton and Kieran Read have given strong backing to future British and Irish Lions tours following speculation that the 129-year-old tradition could fall victim to pressure from clubs.

British clubs, looking to protect their players, are reportedly calling to restrict Lions tours to a handful of games - unlike the current, 10-match tour - which would make them unviable. 

Critics also point to the Lions' poor record on the four-yearly tours rotating among New Zealand, South Africa and Australia with only 12 of 33 series won. 

Ahead of the second Test against New Zealand, where the tourists are fighting to save the series, Lions skipper Warburton said he would be dismayed if internal politics and finances put paid to the composite team, which first toured in 1888.

"From the playing point of view, it's been the absolute pinnacle of my career and every career highlight I have had has been in a Lions shirt. I still love playing for my club, Cardiff Blues, and Wales but the Lions is what it's all about for me.

"Without sounding too strong I'd be gutted, devastated, if the Lions was ever lost. I think it's absolutely amazing and the players all think the same. In my house I've only got one jersey hanging up on the wall and it's my Lions jersey. That's how much I think of the Lions," Warburton said.

All Blacks captain Read, experiencing what for him is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to play a series against the Lions, believed popular demand would ensure the tours carry on.

"This has just been so exciting being around the country in the past couple of weeks and seeing the supporters from both sides. It's been awesome. They're so passionate about the game and I'm sure it will continue," Read said.

But while Read wants more tours, his immediate concern is Saturday's clash which he believes will be much tougher and more physical than the first Test, won 30-15 by the All Blacks last week.

"It will be a step up. Certainly, when you put those things on the line it makes teams play pretty ruthless and wanting to do the best they can. It's their tour, it's their year this next game.

"For us we've got to have that same mindset. We can't just be waiting for what they going to bring. We've got to go out there and take it for ourselves and try and lead with our game and palm our game on to them. 

"If we're sitting back and waiting and expecting what the Lions are going to bring, we'll certainly get caught on the hop and we'll get dominated out there," he added.

Agence France-Presse

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sun, 19 November 2017
Exeter Chiefs v Harlequins 14h00 Sandy Park
London Irish v Bath 14h00 Madejski Stadium
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks 14h00 Welford Road
Fri, 24 November 2017
Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors 22h00 Liberty Stadium
Ulster v Treviso 18h05 Kingspan Stadium
Leinster v Dragons 18h35 RDS Stadium
Cardiff Blues v Connacht 18h35 Cardiff Arms Park
Leicester Tigers v Worcester Warriors 18h45 Welford Road
Newcastle Falcons v Gloucester 18h45 Kingston Park
Sale Sharks v Northampton Saints 19h00 AJ Bell Stadium
Sat, 25 November 2017
Bath v Harlequins 11h15 Recreation Ground
Italy v South Africa 13h00 Rome
Scotland v Australia 14h30 Cardiff
England v Samoa 15h00 Twickenham
Wales v New Zealand 17h15 Cardiff
Cheetahs v Edinburgh 17h30 Bloemfontein
Ireland v Argentina 17h30 Aviva Stadium
France v Japan 19h00 Paris
BRITISH & IRISH LIONS
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
B&I Lions 0 0 0 0 0
Australia 0 0 0 0 0
Barbarians 0 0 0 0 0
Force 0 0 0 0 0
Reds 0 0 0 0 0
Waratahs 0 0 0 0 0
Brumbies 0 0 0 0 0
Rebels 0 0 0 0 0
NSW-Queensland 0 0 0 0 0
Blues 0 0 0 0 0
Highlanders 0 0 0 0 0
Hurricanes 0 0 0 0 0
Crusaders 0 0 0 0 0
Chiefs 0 0 0 0 0
NZ Barbarians 0 0 0 0 0
Maori All Blacks 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0