Gerry Thornley: What rugby needs is more Lions, not less

English clubs’ attempts to curtail or undermine the tours must be faced down

The Lions and New Zealand players pose together after the series was shared following the drawn third Test.  Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters

The Lions and New Zealand players pose together after the series was shared following the drawn third Test. Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters

If ever a Lions tour in the professional tour provided compelling evidence that this wonderful relic of the amateur era should be maintained long into the future, and perhaps forever more, then the 2017 vintage in New Zealand is the one.

For sure, the 1997 tour to South Africa did as much as any trek to sustain the brand. Firstly, there was the high drama of Jeremy Guscott’s drop goal which secured a series win in the second Test, despite the Springboks outscoring the Lions by nine tries to three in the series but declining to pick an international quality goal-kicker.

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