IRFU boss believes Andy Farrell stepping down is an 'exciting opportunity' - Ruck

IRFU boss believes Andy Farrell stepping down is an ‘exciting opportunity’

David Humphreys believes Andy Farrell’s upcoming sabbatical to coach the British and Irish Lions will yield more benefits than drawbacks for the Ireland team.

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Farrell, Ireland’s head coach, is contracted with the IRFU until after the 2027 Rugby World Cup. He will temporarily step aside after the November internationals to focus on the Lions’ tour of Australia, resuming his role with Ireland in August 2025.

In Farrell’s absence, defence coach Simon Easterby is set to be promoted to interim head coach.

Humphreys, who has recently succeeded David Nucifora as the head of high performance, emphasized that Farrell will have a say in selecting his temporary replacement.

“It’s a very exciting opportunity for someone to step in,” Humphreys said.

“You talk about coaching succession, this will give us a chance to bring someone else in at a very important time for the national team and test them in probably the highest pressure environment in the Six Nations.

“Andy’s away for six months but he’ll still be very much involved in that process of who’s going to come in.

“After South Africa, we’re planning to sit down and look at how we’re going to run the next season.”

The current 2025 British & Irish Lions squad, according to the bookies

The Lions will play a New Zealand and Australia invitational XV as part of their nine-match tour down under in 2025. 

The historic fixture in Adelaide will precede Test matches with the Wallabies in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. 

A sell-out at the 100,000-capacity Melbourne Cricket Ground would smash records for a Lions Test match. 

The series finale will be played in front of more than 80,000 fans in Sydney’s Olympic Park.

Courtney Lawes in contention:

COURTNEY LAWES: “I don’t think it’s any secret, I’d love to be involved in another Lions tour. It’s not the same, you know, the reason I retired from international rugby is because I didn’t want to be away every couple of months, for months on end. Whereas the Lions is two months, I can bring my family out and we can have a good time. Having said that, I’m not expecting it. But if I do get the opportunity I’ll be there.”

Courtney Lawes, Captain of Northampton Saints acknowledges the crowd during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final Match between Northampton Saints and Bath Rugby at Twickenham Stadium on 8 June 2024. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

The 2025 Lions tour fixtures in full

  • Saturday 28 June: v Western Force, Optus Stadium, Perth
  • Wednesday 2 July: v Queensland Reds, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
  • Saturday 5 July: v New South Wales Waratahs, Allianz Stadium, Sydney
  • Wednesday 9 July: v ACT Brumbies, GIO Stadium, Canberra
  • Saturday 12 July: v Invitational Australia & NZ XV, Adelaide Oval
  • Saturday 19 July: First Test, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
  • Tuesday 22 July: v Melbourne Rebels, Marvel Stadium, Melbourne
  • Saturday 26 July: Second Test, Melbourne Cricket Ground
  • Saturday 2 August: Third Test, Accor Stadium, Sydney

The bolded players in our proposed Lions squad represent the starting XV, according to current odds.



  • Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland) – 1/16
  • James Lowe (Ireland) – 1/8
  • Hugo Keenan (Ireland) – 1/5
  • Tommy Freeman (England) – 4/9
  • Immanuel Feyi-Waboso (England) – 8/11
  • Mack Hansen (Ireland) – 2/1


  • Bundee Aki (Ireland) – 1/5
  • Ollie Lawrence (England) – 1/4
  • Sione Tuipulotu (Scotland) – 2/7
  • Robbie Henshaw (Ireland) – 8/11


  • George Ford (England) – 1/10
  • Marcus Smith (England) – 8/15
  • Finn Russell (Scotland) – 8/11