Warren Gatland: Vaccinating the Lions party would be a sign of 'unity'

REVEALED: Lions want to vaccinate their British and Irish stars in the UK before travelling to South Africa for tour this summer as a show of ‘unity’

  • Warren Gatland has revealed his desire to get all of the Lions group vaccinated 
  • Irish players would be inoculated in Britain under the Lions’ current plan
  • Gatland believes the universal vaccination in the squad would be a sign of ‘unity’ 

The Lions want to vaccinate their British & Irish touring party in the UK before the South Africa tour as a show of ‘unity’.

With Covid the black cloud over this summer’s trip to the home of the world champions Lions bosses want to ensure their crusade south is safe.

And head coach Warren Gatland – who has had the first dose of the vaccine on these shores – revealed the Lions are lobbying to sort jabs for all tourists.

The British and Irish Lions want to vaccinate their touring party in the UK before heading off

Lions coach Warren Gatland is lobbying to sort vaccines for the squad ahead of South Africa

With the UK’s vaccine roll-out much faster Ireland’s, Irish players would be inoculated in Britain under the Lions’ plan.

‘It would be a brilliant message if we were able to vaccinate all the touring party, the players and all the staff,’ said Gatland. ‘The Lions is about unity, bringing people together.

‘We’ve got to be conscious not to be seen getting special treatment but I think these are special times and circumstances. It might not come together but fingers crossed we might be able to do something.’

While Covid restrictions on tour are yet to be finalised, the Lions will reveal a new match schedule this week.

The Lions will announce a match schedule in the coming week as they prepare for Springboks

It will confirm they will play three Tests against the Springboks – not the rumoured four – with the first in Cape Town and second two at altitude in Johannesburg.

Trips to Durban, Nelspruit and Port Elizabeth will be scrapped with it likely the South Africa ‘Invitational’ match will be swapped for one against the Lions Super Rugby franchise.

Gatland said: ‘The schedule is great. We have to make the best of what we have to do. We’re not in the same bubble the whole time, so will get to move around a bit.

‘We’ll be doing altitude training with masks when we go to Jersey for a training camp.’

Gatland claims vaccinating everyone will ‘bring everyone together’ after a difficult time 

Premiership clubs are at present refusing to release their stars for that June 13 camp, the day after the end of the regular season, holding out for money from the Lions.

‘It looks like the Lions are going to lose money, we’re all in the same boat so I don’t know why everything has to come down to dollar signs,’ said Gatland.

‘Clubs get a significant fee for players’ release to go on tour. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for players to come in once they’ve finished with their club. I don’t know why there has to be an extra payment for that.’

Gatland has also left the door ajar for Ireland boss Andy Farrell to join the tour late, after he rejected a chance to be the defence coach as he is leading his country against the Pacific Islands this summer. ‘It’s why we’ve left one of the spots open,’ he said.

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