Andy Farrell: Ireland boss backed for British and Irish Lions role by legend Sir Ian McGeechan

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Legendary former British and Irish Lions head coach Sir Ian McGeechan believes that Andy Farrell is the man to lead the 2025 tour to Australia.

The former England centre and rugby league great has done an outstanding job as boss of the Ireland team, taking them to number one in the world.

They have claimed a historic 2-1 series triumph over the All Blacks in New Zealand and are favourites for the 2023 Six Nations title following successive victories over Wales and France.


“Absolutely, yes,” McGeechan replied when asked by BBC Radio Ulster’s Sportsound as to whether he can see Farrell as the Lions head coach.

“When I spoke to him I did mention it. He is just great at drawing players together and [it is] so important on a Lions tour that you get the chemistry and you get the players to come out and show what they can do.

“He has shown that superbly well with the Irish squad. It is exactly what you need from a Lions coach and, yes, for me he would be favourite.”

Farrell has received the IRFU’s blessing should he be offered the role, but his focus at the moment is undoubtedly on the Six Nations and upcoming Rugby World Cup.

Ireland have traditionally struggled in the global tournament but McGeechan believes that there is a better mentality and structure within the set-up right now.

“I think it is a very different team and squad now,” he said.

“They are very well organised off the field, I think David Nucifora has done a lot in the pathway, in bringing players through. They have an outstanding coaching group and I think the other thing Ireland have done is have an A team, and blooded players in South Africa.

“Ireland are doing all of the things which I just think, looking back, make so much sense in developing players.

“Even the experience of players such as Johnny Sexton and keeping him fit but actually having genuine options in so many positions, and having had 18 months of just outstanding rugby.

“I enjoy watching Ireland play. I enjoyed the New Zealand tour and I did say to Andy Farrell that I think he has done a tremendous job with them. And, when you have people like Paul O’Connell working with them, you are looking at an atmosphere and an environment which is very different collectively to what Ireland have had in the past.”

Uneven World Cup draw

The one issue for Ireland is that they are on the difficult side of the World Cup draw and will likely play either France or New Zealand in the quarter-finals.

Even in their group, they face defending champions South Africa and an in-form Scotland, which means three of the world’s top five teams reside in Pool B.

“I would still like to see a World Cup draw only 12 months before the tournament or 18 months maximum because that makes it a fairer tournament,” McGeechan added.

“It is a tough half of the draw but are Ireland going to be easy to beat? No. I think, as they have shown in this last 18 months, that they are capable of adapting their game on the field and winning in different ways. For me, they are the most complete team in world rugby at the moment.”

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