Woodward: Lions must continue

The British & Irish Lions arrived home on Monday morning humbled after their Test series defeat to the All Blacks but determined the concept must be kept alive. [more]

Lions Australia Tour 2013

The British & Irish Lions arrived home on Monday morning humbled after their Test series defeat to the All Blacks but determined the concept must be kept alive.

Head coach Sir Clive Woodward was greeted with applause from the smattering of Lions supporters in the arrivals hall, most of whom had just stepped off flights from New Zealand themselves.

The Lions were beaten 3-0 in the Test series – their third whitewash in 11 tours to New Zealand – but Woodward described as an "over-reaction" suggestions the Lions cannot survive in the professional era.

"The Lions is different in the professional age; it is almost a romantic team rather than a built-up team. New Zealand are a very, very good team and it is difficult to bring together four sides very, very quickly," he said.

"It makes it clear a fully professional team will always beat 15 individuals when you only have that amount of preparation time.

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"But when you get the chance you should always go and do it. The upsides outweigh the downsides.

"I still think the Lions is a great concept. The supporters over there were just fantastic, they have all had a great trip and hopefully they will do again in South Africa in four years’ time."

Woodward’s mantra has always been that winning is all that counts – he has even written a book on the subject – but maintains he has no regrets over the Lions’ defeat.

"You go for results and we didn’t win so it wasn’t successful," he said.

"But in terms of all the players, the management and coaching side it has been wonderful. But it is a tough place to go, the toughest of all three (Lions) journeys (New Zealand, Australia and South Africa).

"It was a very tough tour and the better team won. Everyone enjoyed it but the Test matches were very tough.

"It is good to be home now and I am looking forward to the cricket and golf."

Woodward’s career in rugby is over – for now, at least – and he will start work as Southampton football club’s technical director after a brief holiday.

Ian McGeechan, head coach of the unbeaten midweek team, returns home to take over as Wasps’ director of rugby and he echoed Woodward’s words.

This was the Scot’s sixth Lions tour, two as a player, three as a head coach and this time round as a member of Woodward’s vast party.

He said before the squad departed that he only accepted the role because he was convinced Woodward could deliver on all his promises.

In the end the Lions failed, but McGeechan’s reputation remained intact as he guided the so-called ‘Midweek Massive’ to victory in every provincial game they played.

"I think you just look at the way you want to plan it. The concept is still as strong," McGeechan insisted.

"There is no other concept like this at all and it should be continued."

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