Scottish Independence: The British and Irish Lions could face name change

If a yes vote for independence materialises, the name of the team will be discussed at the next Lions board meeting

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The Independent Online

The British and Irish Lions could be forced into a name change if Scotland votes for independence next week.

John Spencer, England's representative on the Lions board, told the Daily Telegraph that such a scenario had not yet been mentioned.

But he confirmed it would need to be discussed at the next Lions board meeting if a 'Yes' vote materialises.

The Lions claimed a 2-1 Test series victory in Australia last year. Their next tour is to New Zealand in 2017, for which Spencer has already been confirmed as manager.

Selection for Lions squads currently covers players from England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland.

It is thought a switch to 'The Lions' could be favoured if Scotland decides to leave the United Kingdom.

Spencer told The Telegraph: "It has not yet been mentioned, but if Scotland voted to become independent then the board would have discuss it at our next meeting.

"We would have to do so out of courtesy to the countries involved. That last thing we want to do is to cause offence to anyone."

When the Lions first officially toured in 1891, they were known as the British Isles, but have subsequently headed overseas as the British Lions and then British and Irish Lions, which became their title for the Australia 2001 trip and has subsequently remained.

The Lions' history is littered with great names of Scottish rugby.

They have had four post-war Scottish Lions tour captains - Arthur Smith, Mike Campbell-Lamerton, Finlay Calder and Gavin Hastings - while former Scotland full-back Andy Irvine holds the record for most Lions points.

Irvine, the 2013 Lions tour manager in Australia, amassed 274 points in 42 appearances compiled across successive trips in 1974, 1977 and 1980.

When the Lions ventured Down Under last year, though, Scotland only provided three original squad selections in full-back Stuart Hogg, wing Sean Maitland and lock Richie Gray, before prop Ryan Grant was summoned as a replacement for an injured Gethin Jenkins.