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Row over the Gatland Lions recce in Guernsey continues to rumble

By Sam Smith

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Any hope that the controversy surrounding the two-day Easter weekend visit by Lions boss Warren Gatland to Guernsey would go away quietly has been dashed as organisers of the trip have now had to issue further details about what the Kiwi did while on the Channel Island inspecting rugby and hotel facilities. 

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Gatland is on the lookout for a pre-tour base for his still-to-be-selected touring squad before they head to South Africa for their July Test series versus the Springboks. However, his trip to Guernsey didn’t prove universally popular as he was allowed to skip strict quarantine requirements. 

Some locals were vocal in criticising the visit by Gatland, given the quarantine requirements that other visitors must undergo, and it has now forced organisers to issue a statement after it emerged they ate meals with the Lions boss while he was on the island.

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Chris Robshaw joins Jamie Roberts on the latest RugbyPass Offload
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Chris Robshaw joins Jamie Roberts on the latest RugbyPass Offload

“While room service was the primary mechanism for meals during his stay, during one meeting at the rugby club (at Footes Lane) a selection of sandwiches were served as Mr Gatland met a small number of people in a large room, socially distanced with hand sanitiser available.

“This included Deputy (Peter) Ferbrache, the States chief executive, and the director of Public Health (Dr Nicola Brink) to explain Guernsey’s response to Covid-19, our current circumstances, potential public health measures if the Lions decided to visit and to discuss the facilities.

“A further single meal was allowed to take place in a private dining room at the hotel where Mr Gatland was staying. This was for a small number of guests, including local sports representatives and the States chief executive (Paul Whitfield) to further discuss logistics of how a potential visit could work. Again, this occurred only after Mr Gatland had received a negative test result that day. As such there was no public health risk.”

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No decision on what the Lions will do for their pre-tour preparations has yet been taken but there was apparently still a groundswell of support for Gatland’s tourists to come to Guernsey as a poll conducted by Guernsey Press on Wednesday received more than 400 votes with three-quarters of the respondents in favour of hosting the rugby training camp. 

 

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Row over the Gatland Lions recce in Guernsey continues to rumble

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