Gatland hoping for Lions v All Blacks ‘decider’ next summer

Match could take place in advance of Lions tour to South Africa

Opposing captains Kieran Read of the All Blacks and Sam Warburton of the Lions lift the trophy following a drawn series in 2017. Photograph:  David Rogers/Getty Images

Opposing captains Kieran Read of the All Blacks and Sam Warburton of the Lions lift the trophy following a drawn series in 2017. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

 

Warren Gatland has raised the tantalising prospect of a “decider” between the British & Irish Lions and New Zealand next summer - possibly at Twickenham - as a lucrative warm-up Test before the South Africa tour.

Gatland, who led the Lions to a series draw against the All Blacks in 2017, believes the match could generate £5 million (€5.5 million) and revealed he has held discussions with the New Zealand Rugby chief executive, Mark Robinson.

The former Wales head coach has been pushing for a warm-up match for the Lions before they head to face the world champions as next year’s series has been condensed to eight matches over five weeks rather than 10 over six, as was the case three years ago.

The Lions have been in talks over facing the Maori All Blacks, while Japan and the Barbarians have been considered as other potential opponents, but Gatland believes that with unions around the world taking a huge financial hit because of coronavirus - NZR has forecast losses of around £50 million (€55 million) - the All Blacks would be the ideal candidates.

The match would be slated for the same weekend as the Premiership final, scheduled for June 26th, but still at Twickenham - either the day before or after - while the Principality Stadium and Murrayfield are other potential host venues.

Gatland, who is coaching the Chiefs in New Zealand, told Sky Sport NZ: “I’ve spoken to Mark Robinson about a warm-up game for the Lions and he was potentially talking about the New Zealand Maoris. But is it something that the All Blacks go up there for? A decider before we go off to South Africa at the end of June next year.

“Potentially it’s an opportunity to make £4 million or £5 million from a game like that and put some money back into the coffers that we’re going to need.” - Guardian

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