John Spencer named Lions manager for 2017
The British & Irish Lions are immersed in their planning for the 2017 tour of New Zealand, announcing former England captain John Spencer as the team's manager.
Spencer was in the 1971 squad that remains the only Lions side to win a series in New Zealand.
Spencer played 10 matches on that tour though the centre wasn't involved in any of the four tests against the All Blacks. The Lions won that series 2-1, clinching the series with a 14-all draw in the final test in Auckland.
Spencer won 14 England caps between 1969 and 1971, captaining them four times.
The 66-year-old has been a powerful administrator in recent times. He has been England's representative on the Lions board since 2008 and has also served on the Six Nations Council and with the International Rugby Board.
"It is a huge privilege and honour to represent the Lions as tour manager, 46 years after I did so as a player," Spencer said.
"My predecessor Andy Irvine did a fantastic job in Australia (2013), and I am looking forward to following in his footsteps."
Spencer is the third English manager of the Lions in the professional era following Fran Cotton (South Africa 1997) and Bill Beaumont (New Zealand 2005).
Handling the social and political ramifications of a team drawn from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales has always presented challengers for both the coaching and management structure of the touring conglomerations.
The Lions' won their last tour with a 2-1 test series triumph in Australia two years ago. That was their first series success since defeating then world champions South Africa in 1997.
Their last visit to New Zealand in 2005 was a disaster with Sir Clive Woodward's team thrashed 3-nil by the All Blacks.
The Lions organisation also announced that former Ireland captain Tom Grace will take over from Wales' Gerald Davies as chairman.