Lions saved their future - Willie John McBride

    16 Jul 2017    

Recovering from a 15-30 defeat in the first Test to draw the three-Test series, the Lions ensured the unique concept of the side should be restored with its four-yearly tours to the southern hemisphere.

McBride, who made five tours with the Lions, including two to New Zealand in 1966 and 1971, and who played 63 Tests for Ireland and 17 for the Lions, believes the Lions should be preserved for all the reasons Sam Warburton's side had demonstrated on their tour.

McBride said on BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek programme: "It's a tremendous achievement and, quite honestly, I think it has shocked a few people.

"A lot of people had written them off before they left because they didn't really have enough time to put the team together. They have done a remarkable job.

"I think that this has, in many ways, saved the Lions.

"The concept is really unique and has gone now for well over 100 years. It would be dreadful in this professional era if it was ever messed around with," he said.

However, McBride said that rather than shorten the tours as has been suggested as part of the global season initiative being introduced for 2020 and beyond, they should be longer.

"The one thing I feel sorry about is that the tour is actually too short. There are some tremendous players on this tour and they really haven't had the time to gel," he said.

"Rugby is about a team. It's probably the biggest team game you could possibly play. I think they have done remarkably well to put the team together that they did."

But McBride preferred to stick with tradition and disputed the notion from former All Blacks and Lions coach Sir Graham Henry that the Lions should play games at home.

"He must have had the head wobbles because the Lions concept is really about a touring team. My answer to that is no. The concept of the Lions was to tour. To play at home would be a nonsense," he said.