Rugby

Vickery: Vote 'No' to Lions name change

2014-09-13 07:36
British Lions (File)

London - Former British and Irish Lions prop Phil Vickery has called on the combined side to resist pressure to change their name should Scotland vote for independence next week.

The Lions could be forced to drop the word 'British' from their title if Scotland leaves the United Kingdom.

John Spencer, England's representative on the Lions board and the manager for the team's 2017 tour of New Zealand, said officials would discuss a possible name change in the event of a 'Yes' vote.

But ex-England front row Vickery, capped five times by the Lions, said Friday: "Sport needs to transcend politics, the British and Irish Lions can transcend politics, and I hope that's what happens

"Any time sport is used as a vehicle it is very, very sad," he added.

Former England centre Spencer previously told the Daily Telegraph: "It has not yet been mentioned, but if Scotland voted to become independent then the board would have to discuss it at our next meeting.

"We would have to do so out of courtesy to the countries involved. The last thing we want to do is to cause offence to anyone," the 67-year-old explained.

However, Vickery stressed the key issue was that Scotland players remained eligible for the Lions, although he personally saw no need for a name change even if Scotland voted for independence.

"It would be very sad if that happened that the name had to change," said Vickery.

"We've got to be careful because sport and politics don't mix that well.

"The Lions will always be what it is, I like the British and Irish Lions and feel proud saying that name.

"If it becomes just the Lions, I would be sad."

However, he added: "But the important thing is Lions squads must always include Scotland."

When the Lions first officially toured in 1891, they were known as the British Isles.

But they have subsequently traveled as the British Lions.

Since the 2001 trip to Australia, their official name has been the British and Irish Lions, in recognition that while the island of Ireland competes as one team in world rugby, the southern Republic of Ireland has long since been an independent country.

Scotland have provided four captains of the Lions since the end of World War II in Arthur Smith, Mike Campbell-Lamerton, Finlay Calder and Gavin Hastings.

And there have been numerous other players who have starred in both the dark blue shirt of Scotland and the red jersey of the Lions, notably Andy Irvine.

The former full-back holds the record for most Lions points, amassing 274 points in 42 appearances made during three successive tours in 1974 (South Africa), 1977 (New Zealand) and 1980 (South Africa).

But when the Lions, with Irvine as their tour manager, won a Test series in Australia last year there were only three Scotland players in the original squad -- full-back Stuart Hogg, wing Sean Maitland and lock Richie Gray -- although prop Ryan Grant was summoned as a replacement for the injured Gethin Jenkins.

Read more on:    british and irish lions  |  rugby
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