'Jason Leonard - a great convivial former prop but an abysmal choice as Lions manager'
Outspoken Sunday Times rugby writer Stephen Jones has launched a verbal onslaught on the British & Irish Lions’ senior management.
Speaking on weekly podcast ‘the Ruck’ the veteran of nine tours – more than any other journalist – turned the gun-sights on Chairman Jason Leonard and MD Ben Calveley and called for them to be immediately removed from their roles.
“These are two members of the Lions committee that we have almost not heard from in the entire season,” he said.
“We heard nothing from them when the tour was struggling, nothing from Jason that great convivial former prop but an abysmal choice as manager (sic) of the Lions.
“The Lions should really be looking at Ben Calveley to see if he is up to the job of chief executive (sic).
“Neither of those two have changed anything. We are still bickering with Premiership Rugby a week before the tour starts and we still have no rest and recouperation for the Lions between tours.
“All they care about is getting a ‘bung’ in for Australia in four years’ time. I hope they both go right away so the Lions can get some serious officials in.
“It seems to me that since 1993 nothing has changed in terms of the amateurishness of the preparation and I find that disgraceful.”
Jones who has won the UK sports journalist of the year award and three times been rugby writer of the year went on to criticise the Lions’ management for failing to put together enough high-level rugby before the test series commenced.
“The Lions were on a hiding to nothing because they didn’t play a single meaningful game before South Africa A that could tell them anything about their combinations,” he said.
“The first time the test side played together was in the first test and that is a shocker caused by Covid and the standard of the opposition which wouldn’t get into the Premiership or Championship at home.
“Tomorrow they should be ringing Australia to say: ‘If you cannot guarantee a certain number of provincial games and if you cannot guarantee they will be against full sides we’re not coming – we’ll play Fiji, Tonga and Samoa on the way down.’
“They should start rattling the sabres and say: ‘If you want to do this on your terms we are not coming – stuff it.”
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