British and Irish Lions to explore feasibility of women's team with study
Lions managing director Ben Calveley: "The feasibility study is an important first step in determining whether a women's Lions team could be established, and we are very grateful to have Royal London's support and investment"
Last Updated: 08/03/21 1:33pm
A study into the potential formation of a women's British and Irish Lions team will be funded by Royal London, it was announced on Monday.
The pensions and investment company has become principal partner of the Women's Lions Programme, and has committed to fund a study that will examine whether a Lions women's team could be formed.
"The feasibility study is an important first step in determining whether a women's Lions team could be established, and we are very grateful to have Royal London's support and investment," said Lions managing director Ben Calveley.
Susie Logan, group chief marketing officer at Royal London, said: "As a modern mutual, we believe in the power of acting in collective interests and that's why it's fantastic that we can use the combined power of the Lions and Royal London to explore whether a Lions women's team could be established.
"Through our partnership, we aim to make a positive impact on the continued success of women's rugby."
Warren Gatland's Lions are scheduled to visit South Africa for eight matches between July 3 and August 7, including three Tests against the 2019 World Cup-winning Springboks.
The series is under threat, however, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Lions last week declining Australia's offer to host the tour.
A board meeting on Friday made the decision due to the lack of certainty over the finance of Rugby Australia staging the tour.
Four options remain under consideration but each has significant drawbacks, with a decision due in March.
Proceeding with the original itinerary in South Africa either with small crowds or behind closed doors could yet happen, while the financially-risky possibility of holding the tour in Britain and Ireland is also being explored.
Playing the matches on home soil is understood to only be an option if the Government agrees to underwrite the financial risk, something the Treasury is currently reluctant to do.
Postponing the tour until 2022 is the least likely course of action due to the ramifications for the home unions' summer tours, while the last option is cancellation.
South Africa's board meet next week with the likelihood of the world champions hosting the Lions behind closed doors gaining momentum.