Lions resolve player release tensions with Premiership

The British & Irish Lions have announced that an agreement has been reached with Premiership Rugby for the release of all players for the warm-up game against Japan on 26 June.

The B&I Lions was reportedly at loggerheads with Premiership Rugby, after the latter threatened to block the release of players for a training camp, which has led head coach Warren Gatland to warn that he could leave England’s star players out of the upcoming tour of South Africa.

At the heart of the tensions was the player compensation offer to Premiership clubs, which one owner reportedly labelled as ‘derisory’.

However, with the matter now resolved, players will also be available for the planned training camps ahead of that fixture at Murrayfield, Edinburgh, something Gatland is grateful for.

‘I would like to thank Premiership Rugby, as well as PRO14, for their support in agreeing to release players for the Lions.

‘I have always said that preparation is key to a successful Lions tour, so today’s news is very welcome and something we are appreciative of.’

British & Irish Lions chairman Jason Leonard added: ‘We are very grateful to Premiership Rugby and PRO14 for the release of players after they have concluded their domestic commitments.”

‘In particular we would like to thank Phil Winstanley for his diligence in helping us reach an agreement.’

The warm-up against Japan will be the first home game the hosts have played since facing Argentina in 2005. Gatland’s side then head to South Africa for the 2021 series.

Premiership Rugby added: ‘We know how much the Lions tour means to rugby fans and players and we wish the Lions every success. We are sure our players will make a huge contribution.’

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