The operators of the British and Irish Lions international rugby union team are in talks over the creation of a women’s side.
The BBC reports that discussions have already been held between the rugby unions of England, Scotland and Wales, with further talks scheduled which will involve the Irish Rugby Union. “We can confirm that we’ve begun initial discussions with the home unions,” said a Lions spokesman. “They have been positive, informative and constructive.”
A timescale has not been set for the launch of the team, but Lions chief executive Ben Calveley has previously stated that the creation of a women’s team was a case of “when, not if”, after the 2019 Women’s Six Nations was the most successful edition yet and brought fresh attention to women’s rugby union. Barbarians FC, an invitational trans-national rugby team also based in Britain, established a women’s team in 2017.
Lions tours traditionally take place once every four years, always in the southern hemisphere, taking on the likes of Australia, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa. However, reports have suggested that the women’s Lions would be likely to take its first tour to North America, where the women’s game is stronger – both Canada and the USA are ranked in the top five in the world, while Australia and South Africa sit at seventh and 11th respectively – and where the commercial opportunities and growth potential for the game are much greater.