British & Irish Lions: Gavin Hastings says the Lions must come first

Gavin Hastings
Gavin Hastings captained the Lions on the 1993 tour of New Zealand

English Premiership bosses must "look at the bigger picture" when it comes to the future of the British and Irish Lions, says ex-captain Gavin Hastings.

Some in the club game have voiced dissatisfaction at the current Lions model, while future tours are set to be shortened from 2021 onwards.

"To Premiership club owners, you have to say 'guys, the Lions is bigger than your clubs'," Hastings told BBC 5 live.

"Let's look at what's best for British and Irish rugby - that's the Lions."

Former Scotland full-back Hastings captained the Lions on the 1993 tour of New Zealand, and led the side to victory in the second Test in Wellington.

He was in the crowd 24 years later to watch the Lions square the current series at the Westpac Stadium with a 24-21 win on Saturday, and is "delighted" to no longer be the last Lions captain to prevail in a Test against the All Blacks.

"That final whistle will be a moment that will live with everyone who was there for a very long time," Hastings added.

"We are all supporters. To share in that joy of victory was amazing, and it will show the Lions has to stay."

Despite the ever-growing popularity of the Lions, their future remains at a crossroads.

Following the completion of the domestic season, the squad arrived in New Zealand just three days before the first match of a 10-game tour - a schedule dubbed "ludicrous" by club directors of rugby.

However, while some parties want a condensed tour, Lions organisers believe anything shorter than the current itinerary would be damaging.

But Hastings is adamant that a compromise must be found to resolve the impasse.

"It just goes on and on and on," he said. "For people who have been with the Lions and are as passionate about the Lions as I am, we feel there is no debate - the Lions should continue.

"It's incredibly tough for the players and management to try and be successful against one of the best teams in the world. But when it happens it makes it all worthwhile."

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