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'A smack in the mouth': Warren Gatland's Lions tour recce to Guernsey wasn't universally popular with locals

By Liam Heagney

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A weekend visit to Guernsey on Lions tour business by Warren Gatland has drawn the ire of locals concerned with how the New Zealander was allowed to bypass tight quarantine restrictions in order to carry out an inspection of rugby and hotel facilities. 


Gatland is looking for somewhere to base his Lions squad in the lead-up to their still scheduled  July tour to South Africa and having been seen scouting players in recent Guinness Six Nations and club matches, he changed tack over the Easter weekend to check out the facilities on the island of Guernsey.  

However, his visit didn’t go down well with some of the locals – with even a boat company refusing to give Gatland a spin out on the water. According to guernseypress.com, Dan Meinke from Island Rib Voyages said no when asked to put on a special trip for a visiting dignitary.

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“For us, it was too big a risk. We are a small business of three or four people, if we catch Covid we have got to close our business down, so I refused it. And also from the personal side, I have got older parents to protect. My wife hasn’t seen her family for over a year, like many thousands of other people over here. It’s just such a smack in the mouth.”

Another person who contacted the Guernsey media was distraught that she has had to make numerous family sacrifices by staying away from the island in the last year and remaining in mainland UK, but Gatland was able to circumvent the restrictions.  

Katie Walters explained that her Guernsey family had been unable to meet her newborn baby, and she had missed the birth of her niece, her parents’ golden wedding anniversary, and the birth of her best friend’s baby. “Why is there one rule for one person and a different set of rules for everyone else?” she asked.


“I want answers from whoever made the decision to invite Warren Gatland to the island without the need to quarantine. Why was he not shown the facilities available by Zoom? What exact measures were taken to ensure that this was a Covid-secure trip? Are any islanders that he came into contact with now in two-week isolation as a precaution?”

Dr Nicola Brink, the director of Public Health for Guernsey and Alderney, apparently tried to reassure islanders that Gatland was followed stringent safety measures on his two-day visit. Seemingly, one-day business tunnels to Guernsey were introduced last summer but were suspended in mid-November.


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