Future Lions tours could be shortened

The RFU and Premiership clubs are pushing for the change

Future Lions tours could be shortened

Paul O'Connell, Ross Ford, Donncha O'Callaghan, Andrew Sheridan and Stepehn Ferris. Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

The English Rugby Union (RFU) and Premiership Rugby are pushing for future Lions Tours to be reduced from their current six week format.

A new global season is currently under discussion among the power brokers of the game from 2020 and beyond.

The tourists embark on possibly one of the toughest tours of the professional era this summer when after an opening game against a provincial invitational side, they face all five New Zealand Super-Rugby franchises, the NZ Maori and three tests against the All Blacks. 

Mark McCaffrey, CEO of Premiership Rugby, has echoed recent sentiments of RFU CEO Ian Ritchie, where he hoped future tours to the southern hemisphere would be reduced for player welfare.

Speaking ahead of discussions on the future of the Lions Tours, McCaffrey said: "We have been fairly outspoken. At the start of the season we said we were unhappy about the intensity of the schedule that had been signed up several years ago and it needs to change.

"To go through this kind of program in the future is not feasible. To be playing 10 matches in a five-week period is too much and our views on that have not changed.

"Hopefully come 2021 some of those changes will come into place and they have largely been agreed. The duration of the tour is scheduled to come down by a week so that will mean a decrease in games."

He added: "Ultimately it is up to the Lions how many games they put into the time frame, but we have a big interest in how players are managed through that." 

World Rugby has already announced a number of changes including moving the June test window to July and the future of the Lions tour looks set to be formalised in the near future.