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Raf Diallo
Raf Diallo

18.49 10 Dec 2019


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Former England out-half Stuart Barnes feels the British and Irish Lions tour is losing its "magic".

The next tour isn't until 2021 in South Africa when Warren Gatland reprises his head coach role for a third edition in succession.

But Barnes feels the tour is losing some of the romance that surrounded it in yesteryear.

"The reality is the magic of the Lions is being peeled away," he said on Off The Ball.

"I was fortunate to be a Lion - not as illustrious as Keith [Wood] - and the wonder of going to some of the small towns for fans and players was something else.

Financial Demands

"But I think there's a romance now that whatever I think is irrelevant - it's just going to lose out to the realism of the financial demands unfortunately of the Premiership clubs.

"And I think the Lions now, it's a magnificent concept but it's also a mass marketing opportunity where it uses the anachronism to feed off it.

"But what are the Lions really now? It's a three-match test series. The Lions has changed now.

"The coach prepares for an entire year. It's not who's the best on the day. Gatland will know who he wants and have them ready. And I think the Lions will have a decent shot.

"I would accept that it strips the tour of its magic. And if you want 30,000 people following it around wearing a red insurance company logo all over it, then it's not your ideal."

But it's really a reflection of the winds of change sweeping through professional rugby.

"The Lions as a concept is fighting against the inevitability of where the game is going," he continued.

"And I don't say that with any great satisfaction. I would be quite happy to be wrong. But unless French and English club rugby implodes financially, I can't see the tide moving in anything other than their direction."

You can watch the full chat with Barnes and Keith Wood here:

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