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Dublin: 16 °C Tuesday 2 September, 2014

Gatland recommends quota system is considered for future Lions tours

The Welsh head coach has suggested that there is a need to ensure equal representation.

Gatland on Lions duty this year.
Gatland on Lions duty this year.
Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Updated 09.41

WARREN GATLAND, THE head coach of the 2013 Lions tour of Australia, has recommended that a quota system be considered for future trips.

The Welsh boss’ suggestion makes up part of his official report on last summer’s success over the Wallabies. Such a quota would ensure equal representation from the four home unions on coming Lions tours, something that was not a feature of this year’s version.

Gatland came under criticism for relying on Welsh players against Australia, with no less than 10 of his starting team for the decisive third Test coming from the country the New Zealander will coach until 2019. It appears that Gatland’s recommendation is based on the backlash caused by his team selection, as well as the angrily-received dropping of Brian O’Driscoll.

Speaking to The Times, the Kiwi said:

What happened in the last week and the non-selection of Brian, brought that issue to the fore. That personal stuff got to me; the debate needs to be in the public domain. It is not my decision.

“Do we want or need a minimum number of players from a country in the squad and then – when we are picking a Test side – does there need to be a minimum from each country in the starting 15?

“I think I know what the answer will be with that, but, if we don’t raise it and debate it to get a consensus, then potentially we are going to end up with what we had recently on this tour.”

As Gatland himself has acknowledged, the recommendation is unlikely to be popularly received, and if it was to be adopted, might prove counter-intuitive to future success for the Lions. If one of England, Wales, Ireland or Scotland was particularly weak at the time of touring, then forcing the Lions to include a certain number of that nation’s players could reduce the overall quality of the squad and the team.

What would you think about a quota being imposed for the Lions? Would it lead to fairer selections or would it mean weakening the team?

- Originally published 09.30

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