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British and Irish Lions to announce head coach for 2025 tour to Australia today: Who could it be?

Sky Sports will broadcast eighth consecutive Lions tour dating back to 1997 with exclusive rights to 2025 tour of Australia June 28-August 2; new Lions coach announced from 1pm today; Wales' Warren Gatland ruled himself out in October; Ireland's Andy Farrell favourite for the role

Steve Borthwick, Andy Farrell, Gregor Townsend
Image: Steve Borthwick, Andy Farrell and Gregor Townsend have all been named as the next potential British and Irish Lions head coach

The British and Irish Lions will announce their head coach for the 2025 tour to Australia, live on Sky Sports, today from 1pm.

Warren Gatland announced in October he will not be putting his name forward to coach the Lions for a fourth time, and backed Ireland head coach Andy Farrell to do so.

The Wales head coach led the Lions on their last three tours to Australia (2013), New Zealand (2017) and South Africa (2021), picking up a series win, draw and loss respectively.

Keep across Sky Sports News and Sky Sports' digital platforms from 1pm on Thursday to hear news first of the next Lions head coach.

Who could the next coach be? Sam Warburton, Lions skipper in 2013 and 2017, told Sky Sports the choice comes down to three in Ireland head coach Farrell, Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend and England's Steve Borthwick, and there's been very little suggestion of anyone else as an option outside of that.

Andy Farrell to take the Lions reigns?

The hottest of hot favourites for the role, Farrell has done a superb job as head coach of Ireland since leading them into the 2020 Six Nations.

Under the 48-year-old, Ireland accomplished near enough everything they could leading up to the 2023 Rugby World Cup. A Six Nations Triple Crown (2022), historic 2-1 series victory over the All Blacks in New Zealand (2022), Six Nations Grand Slam (2023), and firm world No 1 ranking after victories over every side in the world as part of a 17-Test winning run.

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As such, they entered the World Cup in France as one of the top favourites, albeit having been drawn onto the tough side of the draw, and though they defeated eventual champions South Africa in Pool B, they lost in dramatic fashion to New Zealand 28-24 at the quarter-final stage.

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Former British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton believes Ireland head coach Farrell will be the favourite to lead the Lions on the Australia tour

That result aside, Farrell has led Ireland to tremendous success and done so playing a brand of exciting, attacking rugby, implementing a style of play completely at odds with the largely negative type of attack under Ireland predecessor Joe Schmidt.

He has received accolades around the world as a consequence, and it was telling his latest contract signing with the IRFU in December through to 2027 came with confirmation he had their blessing to coach the Lions during his contract.

Farrell also played major roles on successful Lions tours in 2013 and 2017 as defence coach, and so has been engrained in and a central part of the Lions environment previous to now.

British and Irish Lions 2025 tour schedule

Date Opponent Venue
Saturday, June 28 Western Force Perth
Wednesday, July 2 Queensland Reds Brisbane
Saturday, July 5 NSW Warratahs Sydney
Wednesday, July 9 ACT Brumbies Canberra
Saturday, July 12 Invitational AU-NZ Adelaide
Saturday, July 19 AUSTRALIA (first Test) Brisbane
Wednesday, July 22 Melbourne Rebels Melbourne
Saturday, July 26 AUSTRALIA (second Test) Melbourne
Saturday, August 2 AUSTRALIA (third Test) Sydney

Could Scotland's Townsend step up?

During the summer of 2021, Gregor Townsend was brought in by Gatland as British and Irish Lions attack coach for their behind-closed-doors tour of South Africa.

Townsend appeared to have a big say on the tour too, with eight Scots selected, and was trusted to make a number of big calls within the backs.

Scotland's Gregor Townsend during a Rugby World Cup match between Ireland and Scotland at the Stade de France, on October 07, 2023, in Paris, France. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Image: Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend worked as a Lions attack coach on the 2021 tour of South Africa

Finn Russell, Dan Biggar and then a young Marcus Smith were selected to tour over Ireland captain Johnny Sexton, while scrum-half Ali Price started two of the Tests over the experienced Conor Murray - who had been named tour captain by Gatland at one stage during the tour when Alun Wyn Jones appeared out due to injury before recovering.

Outside centre Chris Harris, wing Duhan van der Merwe and full-back Stuart Hogg also started Tests against the Springboks, with the likes of Liam Williams, Owen Farrell, Bundee Aki, Josh Adams, Louis Rees-Zammit and Elliot Daly missing out at different points.

In the end, a strange series filled with controversy, incident, no atmosphere and huge toxicity led by South Africa's Rassie Erasmus did not go the Lions' way, with Gatland, Townsend and the rest of the coaching staff widely considered to have lost a series they should have won due to poor selections.

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Warburton believes playing in a Lions tour is the pinnacle of any player's career

With Scotland, Townsend has fought back from the brink of almost losing his job to securing a number of noteworthy wins, while just falling short of title challenges.

The fact his Scotland side suffered a second consecutive World Cup pool stage elimination will not have done his Lions hopes much chances either.

Too soon for Borthwick?

For many, the jury is still out on whether Steve Borthwick is the right man for England, and whether he will succeed in the role. With that in mind, it would seem extremely unlikely he will take over as Lions head coach at this point.

What is in Borthwick's favour is that he was Lions forwards coach on the memorable 2017 tour to New Zealand, when the tourists faced the double-world champion All Blacks as massive underdogs, and after losing the opening Test, fought back to win the second and draw the third.

England head coach Steve Borthwick
Image: England head coach Steve Borthwick was Lions forwards coach on the 2017 series draw with New Zealand

Borthwick worked alongside former England head coach Eddie Jones as forwards coach for eight years with Japan and then England, before taking over at Leicester Tigers in 2020 for his first head coach role.

Borthwick transformed Leicester from Premiership relegation candidates to champions by 2022, convincing the RFU to sack Jones and hire the former Saracens second row for England.

It has been far from a honeymoon so far, however. His first Six Nations saw Scotland win at Twickenham, France score 53 points at Twickenham, and Ireland brush them aside in Dublin to win a Grand Slam.

In the summer, England lost to a struggling Wales side in Cardiff, then lost again to Ireland in Dublin, before ending their August window by losing at home to Fiji at Twickenham for the first time in history.

At the World Cup, England were drawn on the softer side of the draw away from the world's top four sides in Ireland, France, South Africa and New Zealand, but stuttered through their pool after an impressive initial win over Argentina with 14 players, not performing well against Japan, and winning a Test against Samoa they should have lost.

Even England's quarter-final win over Fiji was exceptionally nervy, and locked at 24-24 until eight minutes to play. Borthwick remains a coach with plenty to prove at Test level.

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We take a look at some of the best moments from the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour in Australia

Sky Sports to show 2025 British & Irish Lions tour of Australia

Sky Sports will exclusively show the 2025 British and Irish Lions tour of Australia, with all three Tests and six warm-up matches to be shown live.

The agreement sees Sky Sports broadcast its eighth consecutive Lions Tour, with the partnership starting in 1997 with the iconic 2-1 series win over South Africa.

The Lions tasted success the last time they were on Australian soil in 2013, with a dramatic 2-1 series win following a memorable performance in the decisive final Test.

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We've been through the archive and put together the best tries from the British & Irish Lions Test series over the years. Which is your favourite?

Having been defeated in a Covid-impacted tour of South Africa back in 2021, the Lions will be aiming to make it a second successive series win in Australia as they kick off the first Test at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium.

The Lions will play nine games on tour all around Australia, beginning against Western Force in Perth on June 28 2025.

Further tour games follow against Queensland Reds in Brisbane on July 2, the Waratahs in Sydney on July 5, the Brumbies in Canberra on July 9, an Invitational Australia & New Zealand side in Adelaide on July 12 and the Rebels in Melbourne on July 22.

That game will take place after the opening Test in Brisbane on July 19, with the second Test at the MCG in Melbourne on July 26 and the final Test in the Accor Stadium in Sydney on August 2.

The Lions will also play in Ireland for the first time as they take on Argentina in a June 2025 warm-up fixture, also live on Sky Sports, ahead of their tour of Australia.

Lions to play in Ireland for first time ahead of 2025 Australia tour

The fixture against Argentina at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Friday June 20 follows the Lions beating Japan in an inaugural 1888 Cup contest in Edinburgh ahead of their 2021 tour of South Africa.

"The opportunity to play in Dublin at Aviva Stadium in front of over 50,000 Lions fans will make for a great occasion and the perfect send-off," Lions chief executive Ben Calveley said.

"British & Irish Lions Tours have a rich heritage built over 130 years of touring but alongside our strong history which we are very proud of, it is important that we look for ways in which to evolve our Tours."

While the last of the Lions' three tours of Argentina came in 1936, the last fixture between the sides ended in a 25-25 draw as they faced off in Cardiff in 2005.

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