British and Irish Lions legend Willie John McBride has criticised this year’s tour of South Africa, arguing that it should have been postponed.
McBride is the most capped Lions player of all-time, having played in 17 test matches for the side across five tours, and captained them on their tour of South Africa in 1974.
However, the former Ireland captain told The Rugby Paper that he believes this year’s tour of South Africa should not be going ahead, on account of the absence of fans due to the pandemic.
Willie John McBride and Chris Ralston are primed during the fourth Test between the Lions and South Africa in 1974.
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‘The concept of the Lions has been destroyed.’
“It’s a nonsense, a total nonsense. It should have been postponed. The concept of the Lions has been destroyed. It’s now purely about money,” McBride argued.
“What sort of tour is it when there won’t be any fans? Let’s be honest, this is a non-tour. If there’s a few bob to be made in some stupid game, they go ahead and arrange one.”
While tour organisers did consider postponing this year’s tour to South Africa, as well as relocating the test series with the Springboks to either the UK and Ireland or Australia, they ultimately opted to stick with the original plan.
McBride on the game against Japan in Edinburgh.
The Ulsterman is also unhappy that the Lions are playing Japan in Murrayfield this June before they embark on their tour of South Africa.
The Lions haven’t played on home soil since they drew with Argentina in Cardiff in 2005, and have rarely played at home since their inception in 1888.
McBride believes the Lions should never break the tradition of playing away from home, and criticised organisers for just trying to make money with the game against Japan.
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“The Lions should never play at home and yet they’re playing this game against Japan in Edinburgh. It’s about making money,” McBride said.
“A Lions tour has always been about more than playing matches. There’s no other sport I know which brings the best players of four countries together to play overseas.
“We used to take the game to every corner of the country we were visiting. That’s all gone and I find it absolutely dreadful for the game I love.”