RFU gives England duo green light for Lions tour

Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree have been let go by the RFU

England’s Rugby Football Union have given 2013 British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland the green light to approach coaches Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree for the tour to Australia.

The British and Irish Lions will tour Hong Kong and Australia in 2013 and will be led by Wales coach Warren Gatland.

“I don’t see it as a negative. I see it very much as a positive,” RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie told the BBC.

“Our view is that it is an honour to be asked to be involved with the Lions.”

Gatland has confirmed that England’s defence and backs coach Farrell is on a shortlist to join the Lions coach staff while Rowntree worked with Gatland on the 2009 tour to South Africa under Ian McGeechan.

Farrell joined England head coach Stuart Lancaster on a temporary basis in December 2011 but returned to Saracens after the Six Nations and missed England’s tour of South Africa.

However after the tour Farrell rejoined Lancaster and Rowntree with England on a full-time basis.

Wales coach Gatland is expected to name his coaching assistants next month and initially there was doubt over the availability of the England coaches as England are scheduled to tour Argentina at the same time as the Lions tour but the RFU say that the schedule clash is not an issue.

“We want to support the Lions. We are one of the shareholders in the Lions, so why wouldn’t we?,”said Ritchie.

“Of course it has some difficulties in terms of the summer tour in Argentina but we would deal with that. “

“You have to see it as an opportunity – not only is it an honour but you would believe they would learn a lot in those situations and it gives us an opportunity to broaden our horizons.”

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