England scrumhalf pulls out of Lions tour

Ben Youngs has withdrawn from the British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand for family reasons.

The wife of the England scrumhalf's brother Tom has been battling cancer for three years and the family has now received the devastating news that the illness is terminal.

'We are a very close family and, as I am sure everyone can respect, time is now precious together,' said the scrumhalf. 'The most important thing for me at this difficult time is to be able to offer as much support as I can to Tom and his family in the remaining time we all have together.

'It is a great honour to be selected as a member of the British & Irish Lions squad and I would like to thank Warren Gatland, the staff and the other players for their understanding in this situation. I wish them well and, like all rugby supporters in British and Ireland, hope they have a successful tour.'

Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

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Simon Borchardt