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Keep RU Lions tour tradition: Welsh star

Press AssociationPress Association 5/10/2016 Nick Purewal

Wales centre Jamie Roberts has urged rugby's power brokers to enshrine the British and Irish Lions' place in any revised global schedule.

The Harlequins battering-ram already has two Lions tours under his belt and will hope to play his way into next summer's squad that will head to New Zealand.

Rugby's global fixture cycle is under greater scrutiny than ever with no Test matches agreed beyond World Cup 2019 and both hemispheres holding conflicting ideas about how to solve fixture congestion and improve player welfare.

Roberts has called on governing body World Rugby and the game's other top administrators to ensure the Lions does not suffer among those negotiations.

"I really hope the Lions can continue to have the right space in the calendar," said Roberts.

"It's unique in rugby and in world sport, where you have four countries coming together who usually battle against each other.

"And not just for the players but for the fans. To travel to the southern hemisphere and to support a team which only exists every four years, there's not too much like that in world sport, let alone rugby.

"And to see that disappear would be extremely sad.

"So from my point of view 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.

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

The Lions will endure a punishing 10-match schedule in New Zealand next summer, with the first tour match on June 3 just a week after the Aviva Premiership final.

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