RFU chief Ian Ritchie defends shorter Lions tours
Rugby Football Union chief executive Ian Ritchie says shorter Lions tours are the way to go.
While the Lions' drawn series with the All Blacks generated huge interest in the UK, there were concerns about the 10-match, six-week format.
An agreement on the global fixture calendar was reached in March, with an eight-game minimum set aside for the Lions' 2021 trip to South Africa, the Daily Mail reported,
Capping it at that number - as well as shaving a week off the tour - has strong advocates in the powerful club game in the UK.
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John Spencer, the team's tour manager in New Zealand, has been critical of those suggestions, indicating it puts the entire concept at risk, but Ritchie, who is a Lions director, disagrees.
"I think the Lions was an essential part of the global season, it is and it remains so. We've clearly agreed it will remain an essential part until at least 2032 and probably beyond," he told the BBC.
"I think it (eight matches) can work and that was the discussion we've had."
There is broad agreement that Warren Gatland's side were pressed into action too early in New Zealand, playing the Provincial Barbarians XV just three days after their long-haul flight, the Daily Mail reported.
But, while the coaches would rather extend the training time before that curtain-raiser, Ritchie suggests abolishing it entirely along with one other non-test.
"It's fairly simple to say the first game - this one was two or three days in - why wouldn't you take that one out?"
'It's more time to acclimatise to the country. The next tour is South Africa, which is pretty much the same, so you could easily see how you take one out and it would be helpful losing one more game.
'I don't think that would be a great issue," he told the BBC.