British & Irish Lions
Scottish 'Yes' vote could see Lions renamed
ESPN Staff
September 13, 2014
Lions Jamie Roberts, Tommy Bowe and George North lift the Tom Richards Cup, Australia v British & Irish Lions, ANZ Stadium, Sydney, July 6, 2013
Lions Jamie Roberts, Tommy Bowe and George North lift the Tom Richards Cup © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Phil Vickery
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The British & Irish Lions may be forced into a re-brand if Scotland votes 'Yes' in the independence referendum on September 18.

It is possible the change would see the British & Irish Lions tour referred to as 'The Lions' to reflect the altered political landscape and constitutional agreement created by Scottish independence.

"It has not yet been mentioned but if Scotland voted to become independent then the board would have to discuss it at our next meeting," England's representative on the Lions' board John Spencer told the Daily Telegraph. "The next board meeting takes place in October. We would have to do so out of courtesy to the countries involved. That last thing we want to do is to cause offence to anyone."

Such a change would not be the first alteration of the Lions' name. When the side first toured in 1891, they were generally known as the British Isles. Following the Second World War, they toured South Africa as the British Lions, but with the Republic of Ireland an independent country, the side were regularly still referred to as the British Isles. Ahead of the 2001 tour of Australia, the side were re-branded the British & Irish Lions.

Former England and Lions front rower Phil Vickery has expressed resistance to the possible changes, telling PA Sport that he hopes the Lions "transcend politics."

"It would be very sad if that happened that the name had to change," said Vickery. "I think they can continue with the name. We've got to be careful because sport and politics don't mix that well. The Lions will always be what it is, I like the British and Irish Lions and feel proud saying that name. If it becomes just the Lions, I would be sad."

Most crucial, according to Vickery, is that even if the Lions' famous moniker has to change, the selection criteria remains as it is, saying: "the important thing is Lions squads must always include Scotland."

While Scotland's contributions to the make-up of Lions squads has dwindled in recent times - only Richie Gray, Stuart Hogg and Sean Maitland were named in the original party for the victorious 2013 tour of Australia - they have contributed four tour captains since the Second World War, as well as the Lions' top points scorer, Andy Irvine, and legendary player and coach Sir Ian McGeechan.

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