McGeechan the most successful coach in Lions history

Ian McGeechan was confirmed as coach for the British and Lions 2009 tour to South Africa at a press conference on Wednesday.

This is the fourth time the 61-year-old Scot has led the Lions and it was under his stewardship that they scored a famous series victory over the Springboks in 1997.

McGeechan, currently Wasps director of rugby, was involved with the 1974 and 1977 Tours as a player, then in 2005 as assistant coach and 1987, 1993 and 1997 as head coach.

South Africa’s World Cup-winning coach Jake White had expressed an interest in the job but the momentum behind McGeechan’s appointment soon took over.

Lions chairman Andy Irvine said: “A Lions tour is very special – even in the modern game they’re as popular as ever.

“Some years ago there was doubt they would even continue but I’m delighted to say they’re as popular as ever.

“Many players have said playing for the Lions is the highlight of their career. And we expect 50,000 fans to travel South Africa.

“The 2005 tour was very disappointing as we lost the Test series 3-0 so it’s vital we have the best leadership for to achieve success in South Africa.

“Once Gerald Davies was appointed tour manager all our attentions focused on who would be the best coach. From day one McGeechan was in our thoughts.

“We wanted someone with a special bond with the Lions. We looked elsewhere as well but time and again we kept going back to Ian.

“He’s the most successful coach in Lions history.”

Gatland and Wasps coach Shaun Edwards are favourites to join the Lions’ coaching team and McGeechan revealed he will be assembling his back room staff as soon as possible.

He said: “Gerald and I will spend some time together and talk things through.

“I hope that over the next two months the management structure will be in place. From now we’ll be working very hard in that respect.”

The Lions have 10 matches scheduled in South Africa, including Tests against the Springboks in Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg between June 20 and July 4.

Other fixtures include appointments with the Emerging Springboks, Western Province and the Sharks and the tour opens on May 30 against a Highveld XV in Rustenburg.

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