British & Irish Lions 2021

Lions legend slams All Blacks 'decider' idea prior to SA tour

2020-04-15 07:34
Willie John McBride
Willie John McBride (Getty Images)

Former Ireland and British & Irish Lions captain Willie John McBride is not in favour of the idea of a "decider" with the All Blacks prior to the Lions' tour of South Africa next year.

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"It's completely alien to the ethos and history of the Lions. For the Lions to play a home Test match is nonsense. That's the problem with the world of professional sport at the moment. It's about money not about sport. Therefore this is going to be played for money. It would be meaningless," McBride told The Rugby Paper.

The 79-year-old was responding to comments made by Lions coach Warren Gatland, who called for a Lions v All Blacks encounter to settle matters from the drawn series in 2017.

Gatland oversaw the Lions' 2017 tour to New Zealand, when a 15-15 deadlock at Eden Park meant the three-Test series ended 1-1.

Players from both sides expressed disappointment at the time that no one had won the series and Gatland said a one-off Test next year could decide the issue once and for all.

He said rugby chiefs needed to think creatively to generate much-needed revenue when the game restarts after the coronavirus pandemic.

"Is it something the All Blacks could do, go up there and we could do a bit of a decider before we go off to South Africa at the end of June next year? Potentially it's a chance to make £4-5 million to put some money back into the coffers that we're going to need," Gatland told New Zealand's Sky Sports.

But McBride added his dismay, saying rugby has been damaged because it was no longer being run by "rugby people".

"Now it's run by [supposed] financial wizards. If they're going to have a Lions, then have a proper Lions tour. They keep saying they can't squeeze the Lions into the curriculum once every four years, yet they always seem to find room for some stupid idea to fill Twickenham."

McBride played 63 Tests for Ireland and 17 for the Lions between 1962 and 1975.

South African rugby fans will remember him as the captain of the invincible Lions of 1974, who left these shores unbeaten after a 22-game tour.

They beat the Springboks 3-0, with the final Test ending in a draw.

- Compiled by Sport24 staff


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