British and Irish Lions tickets on sale despite Melbourne Rebels crisis

Tickets for next year’s British & Irish Lions tour went on sale in Australia on Monday despite the opposition in one of the nine fixtures, the Melbourne Rebels, facing the axe at the end of the season.

The Super Rugby team are in administration with millions of dollars of debt and Rugby Australia (RA) is reviewing their future having guaranteed only that the club will complete the current Super Rugby Pacific campaign.

RA chief executive Phil Waugh said that the review into the future of the Rebels was taking longer than he had hoped but guaranteed that the Lions would have a game in Melbourne on July 22 next year.

“While we are working through the Rebels situation, there will be still be a fixture in Melbourne on that date,” Waugh told Australian Associated Press in Melbourne.

“We’ve talked about a Pasifika game or potentially Australia A or the equivalent so there’s different options but at the moment the plan is to have a Rebels team.”

New Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt is the man tasked with ensuring that Australia, currently ranked 10th in the world, are competitive for the tests against the Lions in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney next July and August.

The New Zealander said the process of turning around a side that last year won two of nine tests and crashed out of the World Cup in the pool stage for the first time was in its early stages.

“(I’m) coming in and trying to hit the reset button and get a bit of a foundation again that we can build from,” he told reporters in Sydney.

“I’ve given myself a foundation period. I think it’s a little bit promising at the moment and the discussions I’ve had with Super Rugby coaches have been really, really positive so far, and there’s been some positives in those small steps.”

Schmidt had just started coaching Ireland the last time the Lions toured Australia in 2013, a job he handed over to his defence coach Andy Farrell in 2019.

Farrell, who last weekend led the Irish to a second successive Six Nations title, will lead the Lions in Australia next year.

Schmidt said he expected the tourists to be very strong but thought the Wallabies could match them if he gets his rebuild right.

“It’s about building a bit of a process in how we deliver what we do,” he said.

“If we can build that over the next four months and then through the next period of time with the national team, I think it’ll give us a springboard to be competitive with the Lions.” – Reuters


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