British & Irish Lions
McGeechan hopes for a bright future
July 5, 2009
Ian McGeechan has ended a long relationship with the Lions © Getty Images
British & Irish Lions head coach Ian McGeechan has reiterated that he will not take charge of the tourists as they take on Australia in four years time, emphasising the need for the next generation of Lions coaches to find their feet.
McGeechan was pleased with his final tour, his seventh as both player and coach, and believes that the experience of their 2-1 series defeat to South Africa will stand the players who wear the red of the Lions again in 2013 in good stead.
"I won't be here as a head coach in four years time, definitely not," said McGeechan, who would be disappointed if the Lions felt the need to return to his door again. "I think there is some younger management. There is succession.
"Everybody has brought something to the table. As a group they should be looking at being able to do that. There will be some players and management who will be in Australia in four years time. That's where I think there'll be a legacy. They should be helping to drive the next one. Before we got together I said to the management 'we have to set the standard, we have to set the environment into which these players are coming'. This is no doubt the best group and the best organised we have been."
McGeechan will compile a report alongside tour manager Gerald Davies upon his return to Britain, with recommendations for the future of the tourists. He will then take a 12-month sabbatical after leaving his position with Guinness Premiership side Wasps.
"I think (the fact I am no longer involved) will hit me when all the talk of the Lions in four years time comes together," said McGeechan. "I have thoroughly enjoyed it and I just see it as a bonus. It's always been a privilege, I have just had a huge bonus of another tour."
One player who has enjoyed his Lions experience is Wales centre Jamie Roberts, who has been named as Lions Player of the Series by sponsors and the travelling media for his stunning performances in tandem with Brian O'Driscoll. Roberts played the first two Tests before injury ended his chance of a third cap.
Roberts will be longing to wear a Lions jersey again in 2013, and McGeechan hopes that he will be part of a squad that is given more time to prepare - with the coach's input an important part of the planning process.
"Just because the Lions have been around for a long time doesn't mean it's old fashioned or out of tune. Speak to any of the players. There is nothing bigger than this. That includes World Cups in the players' eyes," said McGeechan. "The people who run the game, particularly the four home unions, have to take that into account. And the clubs. They have to understand there needs to be an integrated model for a Lions season. I don't think that should be beyond the wit of people to arrange that.
"The only two major things on the IRB calendar are the World Cup and the Lions tours. I would hope after this tour there is a lot of empathy with what's happened. Even in a professional, business sense. If you can take 40,000 people 6,000 miles to watch a rugby team then that is not a bad business model."