Jamie Roberts wants Lions safeguarded in future rugby calendar

Jamie Roberts
Jamie Roberts was named man of the series on the Lions tour of South Africa in 2009

Wales centre Jamie Roberts says rugby union's powerbrokers must preserve the British and Irish Lions' place in any revised rugby calendar.

Rugby union's global fixture cycle is under scrutiny with no Tests agreed beyond the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

BBC Sport last month reported rugby administrators worldwide were nearing an agreement on a new rugby union calendar.

And Roberts said: "I hope the Lions can continue to have the right space."

The Lions will tour New Zealand next summer in a punishing 10-match schedule, with the first tour match on 3 June - a week after the Premiership and Pro12 finals take place.

It is a schedule which has been described as "ludicrous" by Mark McCall, director of rugby at English champions Saracens.

The third and final Test against the All Blacks takes place on 8 July, when English clubs will be starting pre-season training ahead of the 2017-2018 campaign.

British and Irish Lions
The British and Irish Lions ended a 16-year wait for a series win with victory in Australia in 2013

Roberts, 29, who will hope to be selected for his third Lions tour, said players would put aside any complaints of a gruelling season to play for the Lions.

"I've been very, very grateful to have had the privilege and the honour of being on a Lions tour and experiencing that as a player," added the Harlequins player.

"To see that not be one of the big, big things in the rugby calendar would be very, very sad.

"It's an extremely special and privileged place to be. And regardless of how much your body's hurting after a long and tough season, you're ready. You're ready to really put your body on the line."

One of the consequences of no international calendar would mean the Lions tour would have to be negotiated individually as the current deal between the home unions and New Zealand, Australia and South Africa ends after the 2017 series.

It is thought when the new calendar is agreed it will feature fewer international matches and summer tours, but the British and Irish Lions series and the World Cup will retain their places.

2017 British and Irish Lions tour fixtures:

3 June - Provincial union team (Toll Stadium, Whangarei)

7 June - Blues (Eden Park, Auckland)

10 June - Crusaders (AMI Stadium, Christchurch)

13 June - Highlanders (Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin)

17 June - Maori (International Stadium, Rotorua)

20 June - Chiefs (Waikato Stadium, Hamilton)

24 June - New Zealand (First Test, Eden Park, Auckland)

27 June - Hurricanes (Westpac Stadium, Wellington)

1 July - New Zealand (Second Test, Westpac Stadium, Wellington)

8 July - New Zealand (Third Test, Eden Park, Auckland)

Subscribe to the BBC Sport newsletter to get our pick of news, features and video sent to your inbox.

Top Stories