Lions coach plumps for warm-up match against Barbarians at Twickenham

British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland plumps for warm-up match against Barbarians before South Africa tour and game WILL take place at Twickenham despite Premiership Final

  • Lions are poised to finalise plans on Thursday for a fixture against the Barbarians
  • Coach Gatland sees the game as the best way to prepare for the three-Test series
  • Twickenham will be the venue for the Premiership Final on Saturday, June 26 
  • The Lions vS Barbarians fixture will take place at same venue on June 25 or 27

The Lions are poised to finalise plans on Thursday for a fixture against the Barbarians at Twickenham, prior to their tour of South Africa next summer.

A meeting in London is set to ratify arrangements for Warren Gatland’s British and Irish side to face the famous invitational club.

Recent reports had indicated that Japan were potential opponents and Sportsmail understands that certain members of the Lions hierarchy were keen to pursue this option.

Lions coach Warren Gatland is keen for a match to prepare his squad for Springboks series

However, sources have indicated that Gatland sees a game against the free-running Barbarians as a better way to launch preparations for a three-Test series against the Springboks.

The Kiwi former head coach of Wales, who guided the Lions to a 2-1 victory over Australia in 2013 and a 1-1 draw with the All Blacks in 2017, has been frustrated by the lack of co-operation from Premiership Rugby, who have refused to stage their final a week earlier in 2021.

That is thought to be one factor behind the determination for the Lions-Barbarians match to take place at Twickenham.

England’s national stadium will be the venue for the Premiership Final on June 26 next year – a week before the Lions face the Stormers in Cape Town.

Lions fixture is likely to be staged either the night before, or the day after the Premiership Final

Sportsmail has learned that the Lions v Barbarians fixture is set to be held at the same location in south west London, either on the Friday night – June 25 – or on Sunday, June 27.

It emerged earlier this month that the Scottish Rugby Union were pushing for Murrayfield to host the encounter, while Cardiff’s Principality Stadium had been identified as another option.

But it is understood that officials in the Welsh capital are prioritising the staging of concerts at that time of year, while the Lions have a preference for London over Edinburgh.

In 1977, the Lions took on the Barbarians at Twickenham to mark the Queen’s Silver Jubilee and faced the international club again in Hong Kong in 2013 before arriving in Australia.

A late Jonny Wilkinson penalty earned the Lions a 25-25 draw against Argentina in 2005 

Home matches are rare for the British and Irish touring team, although Sir Clive Woodward’s Lions drew with Argentina in Cardiff prior to their ill-fated crusade to New Zealand in 2005.

Gatland is mindful of the pressing need for match practice for his players, as next year’s tour will be the shortest in history, featuring only eight fixtures in South Africa.

In addition, he is likely to call upon several Saracens stars, who will be chronically short of elite-level games after a season in the Championship.

Meanwhile, Ireland prop Cian Healy will miss the remainder of the Six Nations with the hip problem he sustained in Saturday’s 24-12 defeat by England. Healy was forced off in the first half with an injury described as a jarred hip following a scan.


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