Spencer: Gatland is 'the best coach in the world'

Sun, 09 Jul 2017 07:07

LIONS TOUR REACTION: All the British and Irish Lions needed was extra preparation time and they would have won their Test series against New Zealand, tour manager John Spencer said.

Spencer, who insisted Warren Gatland was "the best coach in the world", believed the Lions have to be given the strongest chance they can to be successful against the world's top teams.

"To come here and not to take a step backwards makes me very proud," he said Sunday when reviewing the tour, which ended in a 1-1 stalemate after Saturday's deciding Test was drawn 15-l5.

The Lions arrived in New Zealand just three days before the opening match of their six-week, 10-match tour, and are now pushing for a longer preparation time for future tours.

"My honest opinion is yes. The preparation is extremely important, but I think we are making extremely positive steps to talk about and rectify that situation," Spencer said, when asked if a change in pre-tour scheduling could have seen a different outcome.

"I've received incredible co-operation from the Lions board on this. Gold medals are won on the training pitch a long time before they're won on the match pitch.

"I don't want to take anything away from the guys who achieved what they did, but I think we really have to sit down as a group of stakeholders and with ex-Lions who get the concept.

"Surely it's not beyond the wit of man to come to a sensible agreement over a few weeks every four years? That's what I would encourage people to do.

"The Lions are in a very special place and we don't want to lose that, we want to nourish and improve it."

Lions head coach Gatland has also emphasised the importance of preparation time.

England's Premiership clubs are loathe to shorten their season to help out, but Spencer believes something must be done to change that.

"Everybody has agreed we need to sit down and talk about the preparation time and there are good signs that we will make progress," he said.

After the All Blacks won the first Test 30-15 and the tourists were 24-21 victors in the second, and the third ended in a deadlock, Spencer believed the future of the Lions was in rude health.

"It was a very strange atmosphere that we hadn't quite set out to do what we wanted to do, but in the cold light of day the boys have realised what an incredible achievement it is to draw in New Zealand," he said.

"We know the record of other countries at Eden Park so to come here and not to take a step backwards makes me very proud. In the long run the boys can be proud of their achievements."

Agence France-Presse

Lions vs Sunwolves
sast: 17h15 | local: 17h15

  • 19 | 17
England vs Ireland
sast: 16h45 | local: 14h45

  • 5 | 21
Sat, 17 March 2018
Wales v France 17h00 Cardiff
Jaguares v Reds 21h40 Estadio Jose Amalfitani
Sun, 18 March 2018
Waratahs v Rebels 05h05 Sydney
Fri, 23 March 2018
Ospreys v Leinster 22h00 Liberty Stadium
Cardiff Blues v Ulster 22h00 Cardiff Arms Park
Glasgow Warriors v Zebre 22h00 Scotstoun
Kings v Treviso 22h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Connacht v Edinburgh 22h00 Sportsground
Dragons v Cheetahs 22h00 Rodney Parade
Munster v Scarlets 22h00 Thomond Park
Crusaders v Bulls 06h35 Christchurch
Rebels v Sharks 08h45 Melbourne
Bath v Exeter Chiefs 19h45 Recreation Ground
Sat, 24 March 2018
Sunwolves v Chiefs 04h15 Tokyo
Hurricanes v Highlanders 06h35 Wellington
Sat, 17 March 2018
Stormers v Blues 37 | 20
Italy v Scotland 27 | 29
Brumbies v Sharks 24 | 17
Highlanders v Crusaders 25 | 17
Fri, 16 March 2018
Cardiff Blues v Treviso 31 | 25
Edinburgh v Munster 12 | 6
Chiefs v Bulls 41 | 28
Sun, 11 March 2018
Wales v Italy 38 | 14
Sat, 10 March 2018
Jaguares v Waratahs 38 | 28
France v England 22 | 16
Lions v Blues 35 | 38
Ireland v Scotland 28 | 8
Sharks v Sunwolves 50 | 22
Reds v Bulls 20 | 14
Hurricanes v Crusaders 29 | 19
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