RFU Chief Executive Ian Ritchie has moved to ease fears about the future of the Lions by claiming he is “absolutely certain” tours to the southern hemisphere will continue up to and beyond 2032.
“It was quite categorically agreed in San Francisco that the next 12 years would be protected (for Lions tours),” Ritchie told Telegraph Sport.
“One of the reasons why the agreement on the calendar went to 2032 was so that there was a Lions tour to each (South Africa, Australia and New Zealand).
“The second thing that was agreed was, yes, instead of a 10-match schedule it would be an eight-match schedule and that could include losing one by not playing that game three days into the tour.
“The eight-match schedule was also agreed by all the SANZAR companies, agreed by the northern hemisphere, the Lions board and PRL (Premiership Rugby).
“I do not think there is anything in eight games as opposed to 10 that eradicates what the Lions is all about and I think it is perfectly tenable.
“Is importance (Lions) in the global calendar but in the rugby firmament, and I am absolutely certain that it will be secured to 2032 and beyond.
“In my mind, there is no dubiety about the certainty of the Lions.”