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Women's British and Irish Lions

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Rugby's biggest union backing calls to introduce women's British and Irish Lions team

By PA Authors
By Online Editors

England have given their full backing to growing calls for the introduction of a women’s British and Irish Lions tour.

The prospect of a squad composed of elite players from the home unions visiting destinations such as New Zealand, France or North America has gained traction in recent weeks.

A new frontier in the women’s game will be opened up through the staging of the first England XV v Barbarians fixture at Twickenham on Sunday and the creation of a Lions team would be another exciting development.

England would contribute the bulk of the players on current form, but head coach Simon Middleton insists Wales, Ireland and Scotland would provide plenty of worthy additions.

“It’s a great idea. It is becoming more feasible, definitely,” Middleton said.

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“The Barbarians have taken a fantastic step forward to embrace that side of it and we would like to think the Lions is going to be the next step.

“Test series against France would be fantastic but a Test series against New Zealand would, from the spectacle side and the concept side, be even greater.

“Even though some of the scores in the recent Six Nations made it look like there was a clear disparity between England and some of the other nations, if you drill down into some of those teams there are some fantastic players.

“There are lots of individual players across the home nations who could come together. It would be amazing, you would like to think it is the next step.”

England captain Sarah Hunter is equally enthused by the possibility of a women’s Lions team, but insists it would have to forge its own path different to the men’s.

“It would be incredible. Having a women’s version would be that next level to be involved with,” Hunter said.

“We have to be quite smart as to how we go about it in the women’s game. The same teams that the Lions play aren’t necessarily the strongest in the women’s game so how would the format look, who would we play, when would it happen?

“But it would be brilliant if we could get to the stage where there is a British and Irish Lions tour in the women’s global calendar.

“It would be really exciting and something for players to strive for, to bring the best players across the four nations would be really exciting.”

PA

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Rugby's biggest union backing calls to introduce women's British and Irish Lions team