Kidney in the frame for Lions role


Rugby: Andy Irvine claims British and Irish Lions bosses have “a completely open mind” on who should be head coach for the 2013 tour to Australia. Irvine will manage the 10-game trip, which begins with a fixture against the Barbarians in Hong Kong and features three tests against the Wallabies.

The head coach’s identity is set to be revealed next April or May, with Irvine hoping for availability from Wales head coach Warren Gatland, Ireland chief Declan Kidney and Scotland’s Andy Robinson.

Ian McGeechan, currently in charge of Bath and the most successful coach in Lions history, could also be among the contenders.

“We have a completely open mind for the 2013 tour on who it (coach) will be,” said Irvine, speaking at today’s Cardiff launch of the 2013 tour fixture schedule. “Whoever the coach is will be taking a year out. He does not have to come from the home unions and we could look worldwide, but ideally the head coach will come from a union associated with the Lions.

“Ian McGeechan has not ruled himself out entirely. He did indicate that 2009 would be his last tour, but he has said nothing definitive and he has to be an option. It is such a highly-prized job that we will not be short of candidates. To play for the Lions is the ultimate, and to coach the Lions is pretty close to that.

“We would like Declan Kidney, Andy Robinson and Warren Gatland to all be available. I think all three would be available if required.”

The Lions last visited Australia 10 years ago, losing the Test series 2-1 under Graham Henry’s direction, while they suffered similar agony in South Africa on the 2009 trip, being edged out during a titanic three-game series.

Irvine added: “2009 was a successful tour on and off the field and a great credit to all involved. They were unlucky with injuries in the second Test and outscored South Africa on tries. Continuity is an important thing, and with a such a tight schedule it does help if the coaches were involved in the previous tour, but there is also a view that it is good to spread the Lions experience a bit.”

The Lions will play tests in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, plus six other matches on Australian soil. After the Barbarians, they will face the Western Force in Perth on June 5th before tackling Queensland Reds in Brisbane three days later.

A combined New South Wales-Queensland country team provide the opposition in Newcastle on June 12th, followed by matches against the NSW Waratahs and ACT Brumbies in the following six days.

The first test takes place at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on June 22, and after meeting the Melbourne Rebels three days later, it will be back-to-back tests, ending on July 6th.

The British and Irish Lions tour to Australia

Wednesday, June 5th: Lions v Western Force, Perth

Saturday, June 8th: Lions v Queensland Reds, Brisbane

Wednesday, June 12th:Lions v Combined NSW-Queensland Country, Newcastle

Saturday, June 15th: Lions v Waratahs, Sydney

Tuesday, June 18th: Lions v Brumbies, Canberra

Saturday, June 22nd: Lions v Australia, Brisbane

Tuesday, June 25th:Lions v Melbourne Rebels, Melbourne

Saturday, June 29th: Lions v Australia, Melbourne

Saturday, July 6th: Lions v Australia, Sydney