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Roberts urges World Rugby to safeguard the Lions

Roberts was part of the successful 2013 tour of Australia. Credit: DEAN LEWINS/AAP/PA Images

Wales centre Jamie Roberts has urged rugby's power brokers to enshrine the British and Irish Lions' place in any revised global schedule.

The Harlequins battering-ram already has two Lions tours under his belt and will hope to play his way into next summer's squad that will head to New Zealand.

Rugby's global fixture cycle is under greater scrutiny than ever with no Test matches agreed beyond World Cup 2019 and both hemispheres holding conflicting ideas about how to solve fixture congestion and improve player welfare.

I really hope the Lions can continue to have the right space in the calendar.

It's unique in rugby and in world sport, where you have four countries coming together who usually battle against each other.

And not just for the players but for the fans. To travel to the southern hemisphere and to support a team which only exists every four years, there's not too much like that in world sport, let alone rugby.

And to see that disappear would be extremely sad.

– Jamie Roberts, Wales centre

Lions coach for New Zealand to be announced next month

Credit: Nick Potts/PA

The British and Irish Lions are to name their head coach for next summer's tour to New Zealand on September 7.

Wales' Warren Gatland is expected to retain the position he held for the series triumph over Australia in 2013 when the chosen candidate is unveiled at a press conference in Edinburgh.

Wales fell to a 3-0 whitewash by New Zealand in June, but Gatland is an experienced and canny operator and keen to reprise a role he performed with distinction three years ago.

Furthermore, the Welsh Rugby Union has granted the 52-year-old Kiwi permission to take the eight-month sabbatical from his national post demanded by the Lions.


Welsh Lions return home

Gatland could coach Lions again in 2017

Warren Gatland led the Lions to a first series win in 16 years. Credit: PA

Warren Gatland would not rule the possibility that he might coach the British and Irish Lions again, when they tour New Zealand in four years time.

The Kiwi is contracted to Wales until after the 2015 World Cup.

After 10 months away with the Lions, he will now return to Wales duty ready for four autumn internationals at the Millennium Stadium in November.

"There's a lot of water to go under the bridge before 2017. You get opportunities in life if you're part of successful environments and teams," Gatland said. "Winning a couple of Grand Slams with Wales and reaching the semi-final of the World Cup has given me this opportunity."

"I'm grateful for the chance and if it came up again then it's something I might look at."

Gatland came under heavy criticism for his selection decisions ahead of the decisive third Test against Australia, when he selected 10 Welsh players and left out veteran Ireland centre Brian O'Driscoll.

After the Lions stormed to a 41-16 win, he said: "I haven't taken a lot of pleasure out of this in terms of feeling vindicated. I haven't enjoyed the last 72 hours, it's been tough personally."


Halfpenny named Lions player of the series

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