Lions happiness essential for success says McGeechan

The British and Irish Lions have developed into rugby's hottest franchise but Ian McGeechan, who has been at the heart of that growth for 35 years, says the core values of touring still apply.

Four years ago, McGeechan travelled to New Zealand as coach to the midweek team as Clive Woodward's bloated squad of 45 players were blown away 3-0 in the test series.



That came after Graham Henry virtually outlawed the "F-word" on a fun-free tour of Australia that also ended in defeat.



Consequently, coach McGeechan and manager Gerald Davies have made it their priority to ensure the squad, a manageable 36, enjoy what for many will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience in South Africa next month.



McGeechan is adamant that bonding off the field improves the team's chances on it - and with this year's tour of South Africa the shortest undertaken, there is no time to waste.



"Sharing rooms, training together with the same coaches, travelling together - those points are important," McGeechan said on Monday as the squad met up for the first time.



"With so little time we want to try to accelerate that understanding, where you get to know somebody as a room mate as well as a team mate."



The squad head for the south coast on Thursday for a day's sailing and will end the week with a "beer and a barbeque".



"Sometimes that's the best way to get to know somebody, in a less structured environment," said the Scot.



"Ninety percent of the tour is off the field and that has a significant impact. They have to enjoy the whole experience and the social side is important."



However, anyone thinking that means McGeechan would be happy with a boozy 3-0 series defeat at the hands of the world champions would be misunderstanding him completely.



His philosophy is based on unrivalled first-hand experience as a player, coach and assistant and he is convinced strong friendships help establish the elusive but essential concept of players 'gelling'.



"We have to find our own game and be comfortable in what we are trying to do," he said. "We can't get over-complicated, we haven't got time, and there certainly won't be flip-charts in the bedrooms.



"The next four weeks up to the first test, we have to be clear and focused on how we want to play as a team and what we want to do but also look at different combinations," added the 62-year-old who coached the Lions to series wins in Australia and South Africa.



"Things have changed in the game under professionalism but these are still a group of young men who want to achieve in a Lions jersey and that hasn't changed over the decades."



McGeechan last week parted company with Wasps, where he was director of rugby, but seems to have barely noticed as, once again, he pours his considerable energies into the Lions.



"The body might be a bit more ragged but inside I don't feel any different. It's a privilege and something unique and to be involved in. It is still a fantastic experience and still just as exciting."



BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones