McBride upset about plans for Lions to play South Africa at home

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With Covid-19 potentially upsetting plans for the Lions tour to South Africa later this year, organisers are looking to host Test matches on British and Irish soil instead.

 

That, said McBride, 80, would be a 'total farce'.

 

The most-capped Lion with 17 Tests and most games (70), who has also been a tour manager for the side, McBride is one of the greatest of all Lions.

 

The intended recovery plan would hasten the demise of a team that only tours.

 

He told The Rugby Paper, "I worry that they could now be on their way out. They are doing what I was scared they would do by playing a series at home.

 

"It's a farce, a total farce.

 

"They have lost the concept of the Lions and what they are about. The Lions epitomised all the things we held dear. It's about bringing young men together, teaching them tolerance and understanding by going to far-flung corners of New Zealand, South Africa and, more recently, Australia.

 

 

"I remember going there with the Lions in 1966 to raise money for Rugby Union in Australia before it dies. We helped them back on their feet, and they then went on to win two of the first four World Cup finals," he said.

 

McBride said if it wasn't possible to tour South Africa, it should be cancelled.

 

"There will be nobody at the games. They should rearrange it for South Africa next year. Instead, all they're interested in nowadays is money," he said.

 

Recent discussions among rugby officials involved in the team suggested stadiums could reopen with social distancing plans that would allow them to hold 25 per cent of their usual capacity. That would see 20,000 at Twickenham, 17,150 at Murrayfield, 18,500 at Cardiff and, either, 13,000 at Aviva Stadium or 20,500 at Croke Park, in Dublin.

 

England and Ireland were reluctant to have the Lions tour postponed for a year as it would impact their respective tours to Australia and New Zealand and affect their prospects for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

 

McBride said their timetables could be rearranged.

 

"The Lions only play in the southern hemisphere, nowhere else.

 

"A Lions tour here is not the Lions. I feel very sorry about it," he said.

 

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