Launch of British & Irish Lions Women’s team ‘just a matter of time’
The likelihood of a British & Irish Lions women’s team launching is ‘just a matter of time’ according to rugby officials.
A story in today’s Daily Telegraph details how British & Irish Lions officials say a women’s tour looks likely to be launched, with a feasibility study set to deliver its results by the end of the year.
The study will examine several issues from the possibility of opposition to the establishing of any team, to the viability of a Lions side when only England has a full-time women’s international operation.
Other issues would include scheduling and possible clashes with men’s or women’s World Cups.
However, Lions managing director Ben Calveley believes a women’s team is a matter of “when not if”.
“We have always said that it’s a case of when not if, when it comes to the women’s Lions,” he said. “We think that women’s sport generally is riding something of a crest of a wave and that’s true of women’s rugby as well. We would hope to be a part of that.
“We are launching a feasibility study looking into how you can make a women’s team viable, where it fits into the overall cycle, who might you play against, when might you play and so on and so forth.
“We have launched that feasibility study, we will carry that over the second half of this year and then we will bring forward some recommendations. It is certainly something we are looking at very, very seriously.”
The destination for any likely women’s tour would make up part of the feasibility study’s findings, with New Zealand, France and North America possible for any future tour.
The study would also examine if there was potential for matches to be staged as double headers with the men’s team, although Calveley said that is not a given.
“We wouldn’t assume if there was to be a women’s tour that it would have to happen at the same time as the men or at the same location as the men,” he said. “It could be a completely different model.
“We’ll get a group of experts to talk this through and see if we can come up with a solution that works best for the women’s game. But all of those recommendations will be made off the back of the feasibility study that will take place over the second half of this year. That’s what the feasibility study will look at. We’ll make no assumptions before we do the study.”
The news of a potential Women’s British & Irish Lions team comes at the same time as anger among some Welsh rugby fans at the announcement that a Team GB men’s and women’s side will be competing in the HSBC World Rugby 7s series for the first time.
The HSBC Canada Sevens to be played in Vancouver and Edmonton next month will include a Team GB men’s and women’s side.
It will be the first time that a men’s or women’s Great Britain team has competed outside of the Olympics in rugby sevens.
A petition has been launched urging that Wales, Scotland and England be kept as separate teams within the HSBC 7s tour.