Geech - The future's bright
Ian McGeechan believes the future is bright for the Lions after confirming he will not be in charge for their next tour.
Last Updated: 05/07/09 4:22pm
Ian McGeechan believes the future is bright for the British and Irish Lions after confirming he will not be in charge for their next tour.
The 62-year-old has a 35-year association with the Lions, after notching up two tours as a player, one as assistant coach and four as head.
But after watching his side beat South Africa 28-9 in the third Test on Saturday, he confirmed it would be his last in charge.
However, with the likes of Warren Gatland, Shaun Edwards, Graham Rowntree and Rob Howley, McGeechan is confident there is a legacy in place for the future.
He said: "I won't be here as a head coach in four years time, definitely not.
"I think there is some younger management. There is succession.
"Everybody has brought something to the table. As a group they should be looking at being able to do that.
"There will be some players and management who will be in Australia in four years time. That's where I think there'll be a legacy. They should be helping to drive the next one.
"Before we got together I said to the management 'we have to set the standard, we have to set the environment into which these players are coming'.
"This is no doubt the best group and the best organised we have been."
As for the future, McGeechan is planning to take a 12-month sabbatical from the game.
"I think (the fact I am no longer involved) will hit me when all the talk of the Lions in four years time comes together," he added.
"I have thoroughly enjoyed it and I just see it as a bonus. It's always been a privilege, I have just had a huge bonus of another tour."
But before he takes his sabbatical, McGeechan will return home on Monday to compile a report in conjunction with Lions manager Gerald Davies which will make recommendations for the future.
His chief concern is to secure the Lions more preparation time with the players, while he also believes a coach should be available to assist with planning a tour and the itinerary from at least a year out.
He said: "Just because the Lions have been around for a long time doesn't mean it's old fashioned or out of tune. Speak to any of the players. There is nothing bigger than this. That includes World Cups in the players' eyes.
"The people who run the game, particularly the four home unions, have to take that into account. And the clubs. They have to understand there needs to be an integrated model for a Lions season. I don't think that should be beyond the wit of people to arrange that.
"The only two major things on the IRB calendar are the World Cup and the Lions tours.
"I would hope after this tour there is a lot of empathy with what's happened. Even in a professional, business sense. If you can take 40,000 people 6,000 miles to watch a rugby team then that is not a bad business model."
McGeechan described the recent Test series as the best he has ever been involved in, despite the narrow defeats in the first two Tests which sealed the Springboks' victory.
"I think the players take huge credit for the level at which they have performed. It is the best three Test matches in terms of quality that I think I have ever been involved in," he said.
"Last Saturday night or Sunday was probably the lowest I have ever felt. It took us two or three days to get over that.
"We have got a new template now for preparing for a Test match which includes quite a lot of alcohol early in the week!
"The players came back well and were absolutely excellent. The players were very ready for a Test match. They have been absolutely outstanding. I'm really proud of the way they finished it.
"I said to them 'we're carrying a Lions jersey forward for four years' and that should help the legacy going forward to the next group who turn up in Australia in four years."