By Mitch Phillips
LONDON (Reuters) – The prospect of a first British and Irish Lions women’s rugby team is a case of “when not if”, according to Lions managing director Ben Calveley.
After announcing on Wednesday that Warren Gatland will take charge of the men’s team for the third time, on their tour of South Africa in 2021, Calveley was optimistic that the women would one day get a shot at combining a team from the best of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
“Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing,” Calveley said when asked about the issue by Rugby World magazine.
“If you look at women’s sport generally – and women’s rugby is no different – it’s going from strength to strength. We had a wonderful Women’s World Cup in Ireland recently and I’m sure the next edition will be similarly fantastic. Then there’s the inclusion in the Olympics of sevens.
“Who doesn’t want to be part of that? It’s in the when not if category.”
Women’s rugby has indeed enjoyed something of a publicity boost in recent years, with the England team becoming fully professional for the first time this year and the recently-formed women’s Barbarians playing England at Twickenham for the first time earlier this month.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Toby Davis)