“In the past, the Lions have always compensated clubs for the release of players.”
Warren Gatland has revealed that several players could miss out on selection for the Lions due to an ongoing dispute with Gallagher Premiership clubs.
The coaching team for the British and Irish Lions’ tour was announced yesterday, but the naming of the playing squad is pencilled in for the 6th of May.
Despite that crucial date drawing ever closer, Gatland explained at a Lions press conference yesterday that issues remain over the release of eligible players that are contracted to clubs in the English Premiership.
“We’re absolutely determined to make it an enjoyable, memorable and ultimately successful experience for everyone involved.”
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) April 13, 2021
Warren Gatland: Several players could miss out on the Lions due to Premiership dispute.
The Lions are set to play their first game of the summer on the 26th of June when they take on Japan in Murrayfield, before they set off for South Africa.
The Gallagher Premiership final is also set to be played on the 26th of June, with four English clubs due to be involved in the play-off semi-finals the weekend before.
Eight of the 12 Premiership clubs will finish their season on the 12th of June, but Gatland revealed that even players from those clubs are not guaranteed to be released in time for the game against Japan.
‘I’m just hoping that common sense will prevail.’
“That’s the current situation as I understand it and it’s not just English players playing there,” Gatland explained at Tuesday’s press conference.
“I think the Lions are talking to the PRL (Premiership Rugby Ltd) this week and I’m just hoping we’ll get some resolution. It’s a big one for us that when those players are finished with their clubs, they are available to us.
“In the past the Lions have always compensated clubs for the release of players – something they didn’t really have to do because the regulations allow for release on a certain date.
“What we are asking for is can they be released a little bit earlier, when they’ve finished their club campaign?
“I’m just hoping we can get some resolution and that common sense will prevail, so we don’t have to go through the squad and start looking at 50-50 calls on players and thinking, ‘Well, he’s based in England so unfortunately he’s not going to be available to us’.
“The last thing I’d want is for players to miss out on the tour because of that.”