British and Irish Lions form group to look into feasibility of launching women’s team

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England take on Wales in the Women’s Six Nations but the teams could unite under the Lions banner (Getty Images)
England take on Wales in the Women’s Six Nations but the teams could unite under the Lions banner (Getty Images)

A British and Irish Lions women's team moved a step closer on Tuesday with the announcement of a 13-strong feasibility group to explore launching a side.

The Lions' men's squad, made up of players from England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, have regularly toured the Southern Hemisphere since 1888.

Now, a group made up of experienced administrators from across professional rugby and business executives will come together to examine the chances of starting a women’s squad.

The group will be chaired by former Lions wing and current Lions board member Ieuan Evans, who said: “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.”

The Lions’ men’s squad have been a feature of rugby since the 19th century (Getty Images)
The Lions’ men’s squad have been a feature of rugby since the 19th century (Getty Images)

Among those ioining Evans on the group will be Sky's corporate affairs director Joanna Manning-Cooper, the RFU's chief operating and financial officer Sue Day, Scottish Rugby's head of girls and women's strategy Gemma Fay, World Rugby's women's high performance manager Nicky Ponsford and Ireland international Niamh Briggs.

The steering team will initiate a feasibility study to be overseen by a specialist consulting group.

Lions managing director and steering group member Ben Calveley said: "We are excited to have put together such a stellar list of individuals who I know will add value to this project.

"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."

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