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Lions tours set to be shortened, says NZ Rugby chief

New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) chief executive Steve Tew has expressed his confidence that the British and Irish Lions will continue to tour the southern hemisphere but states the duration of such trips are likely to be shorter in the future.

The Lions levelled their current series in New Zealand with a thrilling 24-21 win over the All Blacks in Wellington on Saturday. The series will now go on to a decisive third game in Auckland on July 8, but the future of the Lions in their current guise has been a matter of debate amid a packed international calendar and reluctance of clubs to release their prized players.

However, Tew has said Lions tours will continue in line with World Rugby’s calendar, which outlines visits to South Africa in 2021, Australia in 2025 and New Zealand in 2029. “We negotiated a new 12-year international calendar with Lions tours factored into that calendar,” Tew said, according to the Associated Press news agency. “I’m confident that we’ll see the Lions back here in the normal schedule that we’ve got going.”

The current tour of New Zealand comprises 10 games, but Tew believes this will be shortened for future events. “I think it’s reasonable to expect that we probably won’t see a 10 game-tour again, the calendar is just too full,” he said. “We have a strong view of what the minimum looks like and that is around eight.”