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Barbarians bid for unofficial fourth Lions test

Credit: PA

The Barbarians intend talking to the home unions over the possibility of releasing players for their fixture against New Zealand on November 4.

It has been suggested that the match at Twickenham could become an unofficial fourth Test to the British and Irish Lions tour, which concluded on Saturday with the series against the All Blacks drawn 1-1.

Lions head coach Warren Gatland has given his approval to the idea, stating in the aftermath of the 15-15 stalemate at Eden Park, "That would be good, wouldn't it?".

Many hoops need to be jumped though but the Barbarians, who will be overseen by former New Zealand coach Robbie Deans, are keen to explore the idea.

We are going to assemble an extremely strong team for this historic game at Twickenham.

We hope it will include players involved in the exceptional Lions series with the All Blacks. The players will get the chance to face New Zealand for a fourth time this year.

We have reached an agreement with Premiership Rugby, who have been very supportive about player release. We will talk with the home unions about access to players.

– Barbarians spokesperson
Credit: PA

As England players will already have reported for international duty that weekend, Premiership Rugby's consent was not needed for the RBS 6 Nations champions' involvement in the game.

Instead, if an idea that can be only be described as a long shot is to succeed then the Barbarians will be need consent from the home unions and for the fixture to have any credibility as an unofficial decider to an enthralling Lions tour that would be required all four of them.

There is precedent for such a game after the Barbarians' clash with New Zealand in 1973 was given a similar billing due to the number of players involved from the Lions' triumphant tour two years earlier. The All Blacks lost that series 2-1 with the fourth Test also ending in deadlock.

England sought to hijack the November 4 date at Twickenham to stage their own fixture against the All Blacks - they are due to meet for the first time in four years in November 2018 - only for negotiations to break down.

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