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British & Irish Lions

Women’s Lions feasibility study group announced

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The 13-person group will be chaired by British & Irish Lion, Ieuan Evans, and is made up of experienced administrators from across professional rugby, business executives, as well as former international standard athletes from the world of sport. The group is tasked with looking into the feasibility of establishing a Women’s Lions team:

  • Ieuan Evans MBE (Chair) – British & Irish Lion and The British & Irish Lions board member
  • Ben Calveley – managing director, The British & Irish Lions
  • Susie Logan – group chief marketing Officer, Royal London
  • Joanna Manning-Cooper – group director of corporate affairs, Sky
  • Max Taylor – consumer director, Vodafone
  • Simon Rowe – head of global sports marketing, Canterbury
  • Sue Day MBE – chief operating & financial officer, RFU and RFU Board, Rugby Football Union
  • Anthony Eddy – director of Sevens and women’s rugby, Irish Rugby Football Union
  • Gemma Fay – head of girls & women’s strategy, Scottish Rugby
  • Hannah John – women’s high-performance lead (acting), Welsh Rugby Union
  • Nicky Ponsford – women’s high-performance manager, World Rugby
  • Shaunagh Brown – senior player, Harlequins Women and England
  • Niamh Briggs – senior player, Munster and Ireland, club coach and Garda Síochána (Police) Officer

The primary responsibility of the newly formed group will be to initiate, oversee and contribute towards a feasibility study which will seek to ascertain whether a Women’s Lions team could be formed. The study is being funded by Lions Global Partner, Royal London, who are also the inaugural ‘Principal Partner’ of the Women’s Lions programme.

Women's Lions Collage

As a champion of women’s sport, Royal London, the UK’s largest insurance mutual, will provide guidance and expertise to the working group.

The study will be undertaken by a specialist consulting firm which will be appointed by the steering group.

“We are excited to have put together such a stellar list of individuals who I know will add value to this project,” said Calveley.

“I believe a Women’s Lions team is a huge opportunity, but there are a number of challenges to consider when looking to create a successful women’s set-up. Financial viability, suitable opposition and appropriate scheduling in the women’s rugby calendar will all need rigorous analysis, research and careful consideration.

“We are very grateful to be working with a purpose-driven organisation like Royal London on this initiative. Our broader commercial family – including Sky, Vodafone and Canterbury – have also committed to provide their expertise and play an active role in the feasibility analysis.”

Ieuan Evans, added: “Women’s rugby is experiencing unprecedented growth around the world with participation levels continuing to increase every year.

“A Women’s Lions team is a big opportunity for the women’s game, and I am looking forward to working with the Steering Group to assess its viability.”

Commenting on the announcement Logan said: “We are committed to levelling the playing field in sport and we’re delighted to be supporting this important study to understand if the creation of a British & Irish Lions team for women will be possible.

“We want to support a society that is inclusive and benefits everyone, and this partnership with the Lions is a great opportunity to grow women’s rugby.”

Source – British & Irish Lions


British & Irish Lions

Tributes pour in for Lion and rugby legend Eddie Butler

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Tributes have been paid to British & Irish Lion #601 and iconic broadcaster Eddie Butler, who has died aged 65.

Butler was called up to The British and Irish Lions squad that toured New Zealand in 1983, replacing Jeff Squire, and made one appearance.

The No.8 played 16 times for Wales and captained them on six occasions, scoring two tries.

He was a legend at his club side Pontypool, captaining the team between 1982 and 1985, and, after retiring from rugby, he carved out a remarkable career in journalism, broadcasting and commentary.

Tributes have already started pouring in to honour a great of the game, with World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont calling Butler one of the finest commentators of his time.

After beginning his journalism career with the Sunday Correspondent in 1988, Butler began writing for The Observer in 1991.

He joined BBC Wales in 1990, starting his commentary career alongside Bill McLaren before becoming the lead BBC rugby commentator.

His partnership with former Lions and England hooker Brian Moore received widespread acclaim and his commentary partner tweeted that he admired Butler as a broadcaster and as a man.

Butler’s montage-accompanying prose was the backdrop not only to sporting events but to some of the biggest news stories of the last two decades.

The final one he made marked the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

He commentated on Olympic sports, as well as the Invictus Games, and also put his voice to montages for the BBC’s NFL highlights programmes. He also published three novels and two non-fiction books.

Two-time Tour captain and fellow broadcaster Sam Warburton said: “Stunned at the news and passing of Eddie Butler. Thoughts with his family.

“What an amazing contribution to rugby and broadcasting. A privilege to have played and co-commentated with his voice.”

Scott Quinnell, who toured with the Lions in 1997 and 2001, said: “Absolutely devastated to hear the news. Eddie was such a wonderful man. Always loved our chats especially over a pint. Love and thoughts to Sue and the family.”

Source – British & Irish Lions


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Tommy Bowe to become trustee of The British & Irish Lions Charitable Trust

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Tommy Bowe has been announced as a trustee of The British & Irish Lions Charitable Trust.

He will join Gavin Hastings, Richard Hill and Sam Warburton as trustees. The Trust exists to connect with, nurture and support Lions players in need whilst also supporting a host of charities annually.

Tommy is #Lion752, having represented the Lions on the 2009 and 2013 tours to South Africa and Australia respectively. He enjoyed a lengthy and hugely successful international career with Ireland and played his club rugby with Ulster and Ospreys. He was nominated as a trustee by the IRFU to succeed Fergus Slattery.

“It’s such a privilege to be made a trustee of The British & Irish Lions Trust and I feel incredibly honoured,” said Bowe. “The Trust does so much good work and I really look forward to getting involved, helping Lions in need and working on various charity initiatives.”

British & Irish Lions MD Ben Calveley said: “People know the Lions best for what we do on the field, but what we do off the field is of equal importance.

“The British & Irish Lions Charitable Trust does so much important work for those in need. Tommy is a wonderful addition to the Trust and as a trustee I have no doubt that he will help to drive forward this good work.”

Gavin Hastings, Chairman of The British & Irish Lions Charitable Trust said: “One of the key aims of The British & Irish Lions is to have an impact off the pitch, and we are really proud and pleased to continue supporting our Lions post retirement through The British & Irish Lions Charitable Trust.

“Tommy is a great addition as a trustee – he will bring a wealth of experience and enthusiasm and I know I speak for my fellow trustees when I say that we’re really looking forward to working with him. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Fergus Slattery who has been great to work with on the Trust and I wish him all the best for the future.”

Source – British & Irish Lions


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Lions and Ireland hooker Ken Kennedy dies aged 81

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Former British & Irish Lions tourist Ken Kennedy has died aged 81.

Kennedy was part of the 1966 Tour of Australia and New Zealand, and the invincible 1974 Tour of South Africa.

The hooker amassed 45 caps for Ireland and was highly regarded for his world class scrummaging ability.

Kennedy was born in Rochester, England and studied medicine at Queen’s University in Belfast where he qualified to be a doctor.

Away from rugby, Kennedy continued to practice as a doctor in London while playing for London Irish.

Kennedy made his Test debut for Ireland in January 1965 against France at Lansdowne Road, with the game finishing a 3-3 draw.

The next year, the hooker was selected for the 1966 Tour, where he picked up four Test caps and scored a try in an 11-8 win over Australia at Sydney Cricket Ground.

Kennedy missed the 1968 Tour through injury but returned as part of the squad that returned unbeaten from South Africa in 1974.

The front rower also stepped in as unofficial medic on Tours thanks to his medical degree.

Kennedy’s final Ireland cap came in a 32-4 loss away in Wales in 1975, retiring at the time as the world’s most capped hooker.

Source – British & Irish Lions


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