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Sport Warren Gatland: Vaccinating the Lions party would be a sign of 'unity'

03:15  18 april  2021
03:15  18 april  2021 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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Warren Gatland has revealed that Andy Farrell – his key lieutenant on the two previous British & Irish Lions tours – could still be added to the coaching staff for this summer’s trip to South Africa. Gatland named Steve Tandy and Robin McBryde – alongside Gregor Townsend and Neil Jenkins – on his coaching staff this past week after Farrell, Steve Borthwick and Graham Rowntree all made The Lions are likely to begin the eight-match tour on the Highveld before heading to Cape Town for the first Test, with the South African government still hopeful crowds of up to 50% capacity will be permitted.

Wales coach Warren Gatland has agreed a deal to take charge of the British and Irish Lions on their tour of South Africa in 2021. Although no contract has been signed , terms have been agreed by both parties for the New Zealander to lead the Lions for a third time. Gatland 's start date with the Lions has yet to be confirmed, but given he will be a free agent after the World Cup, that is not considered to be a problem. He was appointed less than a year before the Lions ' 2017 tour of New Zealand, after the schedule had been decided. His early appointment this time will give him a chance to be involved in

Warren Gatland talking on a cell phone: MailOnline logo © Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo

The Lions want to vaccinate their British & Irish touring party in the UK before the South Africa tour as a show of ‘unity’.

With Covid the black cloud over this summer’s trip to the home of the world champions Lions bosses want to ensure their crusade south is safe.

And head coach Warren Gatland – who has had the first dose of the vaccine on these shores – revealed the Lions are lobbying to sort jabs for all tourists.

a close up of a flag: The British and Irish Lions want to vaccinate their touring party in the UK before heading off © Provided by Daily Mail The British and Irish Lions want to vaccinate their touring party in the UK before heading off a man standing in a field: Lions coach Warren Gatland is lobbying to sort vaccines for the squad ahead of South Africa © Provided by Daily Mail Lions coach Warren Gatland is lobbying to sort vaccines for the squad ahead of South Africa

With the UK’s vaccine roll-out much faster Ireland’s, Irish players would be inoculated in Britain under the Lions’ plan.

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Warren Gatland is named British and Irish Lions coach for a record-equalling third time and will lead the tour of South Africa in 2021. "I'm hugely honoured and delighted to lead the Lions again," said Gatland , who becomes just the second man in history - after Sir Ian McGeechan - to take charge of three tours. "It is exciting and a great challenge. The Lions rightly have a truly special place in the game and I jumped at the chance to be involved again when I was approached about the role."

Warren David Gatland CBE (born 17 September 1963) is a New Zealand rugby union coach, formerly the head coach of Wales. While he was coach between 2007 and 2019, Wales won four Six Nations titles, including three Grand Slams

‘It would be a brilliant message if we were able to vaccinate all the touring party, the players and all the staff,’ said Gatland. ‘The Lions is about unity, bringing people together.

‘We’ve got to be conscious not to be seen getting special treatment but I think these are special times and circumstances. It might not come together but fingers crossed we might be able to do something.’

While Covid restrictions on tour are yet to be finalised, the Lions will reveal a new match schedule this week.

Jack Nowell, Sam Warburton, Rhys Webb are posing for a picture: The Lions will announce a match schedule in the coming week as they prepare for Springboks © Provided by Daily Mail The Lions will announce a match schedule in the coming week as they prepare for Springboks

It will confirm they will play three Tests against the Springboks – not the rumoured four – with the first in Cape Town and second two at altitude in Johannesburg.

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The Lions squad is due to be announced in early May and assemble in late June. Before heading to South Africa to take on the world champions, they will play a Test against Japan at BT Murrayfield on 26 June. This tour will be unlike any other due to the pandemic. “But having spoken to the coaches individually over the past few days we ’ re absolutely determined to make it an enjoyable, memorable and ultimately successful experience for everyone involved.” What do you think of Warren Gatland ’s Lions 2021 coaching team? Let us know your thoughts by emailing rugbyworldletters@futurenet.com or get

Warren Gatland has conceded it would be difficult to have Rob Howley on his coaching team for the Lions tour of South Africa, as a result of the former Wales scrum-half’s ban for gambling. Warren Gatland has called on England players to lobby their clubs for early release next summer to avoid potentially missing out on the British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa.

Trips to Durban, Nelspruit and Port Elizabeth will be scrapped with it likely the South Africa ‘Invitational’ match will be swapped for one against the Lions Super Rugby franchise.

Gatland said: ‘The schedule is great. We have to make the best of what we have to do. We’re not in the same bubble the whole time, so will get to move around a bit.

‘We’ll be doing altitude training with masks when we go to Jersey for a training camp.’

Warren Gatland in a red shirt: Gatland claims vaccinating everyone will 'bring everyone together' after a difficult time © Provided by Daily Mail Gatland claims vaccinating everyone will 'bring everyone together' after a difficult time

Premiership clubs are at present refusing to release their stars for that June 13 camp, the day after the end of the regular season, holding out for money from the Lions.

‘It looks like the Lions are going to lose money, we’re all in the same boat so I don’t know why everything has to come down to dollar signs,’ said Gatland.

‘Clubs get a significant fee for players’ release to go on tour. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for players to come in once they’ve finished with their club. I don’t know why there has to be an extra payment for that.’

Gatland has also left the door ajar for Ireland boss Andy Farrell to join the tour late, after he rejected a chance to be the defence coach as he is leading his country against the Pacific Islands this summer. ‘It’s why we’ve left one of the spots open,’ he said.

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