Rugby Union

Premiership players free for whole of 2025 Lions tour after ‘landmark agreement'

The Lions team that faced Japan in 2021 contained no English players (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Duncan Bech, PA England Rugby Correspondent

Players from the Gallagher Premiership will be available for the start of the 2025 British and Lions tour and its build-up after a landmark agreement was struck between the league, the United Rugby Championship and the Lions.

As part of the arrangement, the Premiership final in June will be brought forward to enable those players involved to take a full part in the early stages of preparation for the visit to Australia.

In 2017 and 2021, clashes between the English league’s domestic showpiece and initial Lions training camps led to acrimony between the two.

Lions head coach Warren Gatland described dealing with the Premiership clubs as “a little bit like Brexit” three years ago, adding that 50-50 calls would likely go against English internationals due to their later release.

The staging of the Premiership final on the same day as the Lions’ warm-up clash with Japan in 2021 was a low point in the relationship, but they are now collaborating far more closely under the guidance of chief executives Simon Massie-Taylor and Ben Calveley.

The agreement will also result in the sharing of digital content, events and key announcements.

“We are thrilled to be working in partnership with Premiership Rugby and United Rugby Championship and want to thank them for their support in reaching this landmark agreement,” Lions boss Calveley said.

“Our relationship with the clubs – who are the guardians of all potential Lions – is critical to any success we have and we are committed to working with Premiership Rugby and United Rugby Championship in a spirit of collaboration.”

Rugby Union