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The 2009 Management Team

The Head Coach for the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa in 2009 was announced as former Scotland and current London Wasps head coach Ian McGeechan on 14 May 2008. The complete 2009 Lions Management Team was announced on 22 October 2008 at a press conference in Dublin.

HEAD COACH – IAN MCGEECHAN

Home Union: Scotland
Current Position: Head Coach of London Wasps
Lions Record: Playing 1974 & 1977, Coaching 1989, 1993, 1997 & 2005.

Ian McGeechan is probably the most famous (and probably most successful) Lion of them all. Having toured twice as a player and four times as a coach he has unrivelled experience of what it takes to be a Lion and a winning Lion at that. Ian’s Lions career started on the famously successful 1974 tour to South Africa playing in 14 matches including all four of the test matches. His second playing tour came on the 1977 tour to New Zealand and saw “Geech’s” make 16 appearances for the Lions including all four test matches and the one off test against Fiji on the way home. Ian captained the Lions on two of the provincial matches on that tour to New Zealand. He also played in the Queens Silver Jubilee unofficial game against the Barbarians in 1977.

McGeechan’s Lions coaching career began in 1989 with the victorious tour to Australia winning the series 2-1. This was followed by a losing tour to New Zealand four years later and then followed that up with the last successful Lions tour to leave these shores. The tour in South Africa in 1997 was the first tour of the professional era and Geech’s was successful in orchestrating another famous win for the Lions by 2 tests to one. Following a break in Lions duty in 2001, Ian was back in 2005 to help take the midweek side on an unbeaten run to successive wins which unfortunately could not be replicated by the full test team with the All Blacks blackwashing the Lions 3-0. McGeechan takes the head coach’s reigns once again in 2009 for the fourth time in his career.

TOUR MANAGER – GERALD DAVIES CBE

Home Union: Wales
Current Position: National Representative on WRU board
Lions Record: Playing 1968 & 1971

Arguably one of the finest wingers of all time, Gerald Davies enjoyed a successful 12 year career, earning 46 caps for Wales and scoring 20 tries. He also played domestically for Cambridge University, London Welsh, Cardiff and the Barbarians.

Davies is probably best remembered for his immense performances for the Lions in 1971 where he and fly half Barry John were instrumental in the 2-1 series victory over New Zealand. Had he not declined to tour in 1974 and 1977, he would probably have become the most capped winger in Lions history.

After retiring as a player, Davies started a career as a journalist, writing rugby articles for The Times. This has led to him being appointed in November 2007 as Tour Manager for the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa, taking on the role held by Bill Beaumont in New Zealand in 2005 and Donal Lenihan four years before that in Australia.

FORWARDS COACH – WARREN GATLAND

Home Union: New Zealand
Current Position: Head Coach of Wales
Lions Record: No record

Gatland was born in New Zealand in 1963 and made his New Zealand B debut in 1988. Gatland was unfortunate in that his career coincided with one of the greatest All Blacks of all time in Sean Fitzpatrick which mean’t that he never managed to win a full international cap for New Zealand despite being in and around the team for 6 years.

His coaching experience started with stints in Ireland and Scotland before taking up the national coach position in Ireland vacated by Brian Ashton in 1998. His Ireland career did not set the world on fire and ended with his assistant Eddie O’Sullivan taking his postion and Gatland moved on to take three back to back premiership title’s and a heineken Cup triumph in 2004 with London Wasps. He moved back to New Zealand to take up a positon with former club Waikato in 2005 helping them to win the Air New Zealand cup.

In December 2007, Gatland took up his current position as head coach of the Welsh national rugby team and sensationally helped Wales clinch their 10th Grand Slam title, exactly 100 years after they won their first. In October 2008, it was announced that Warren Gatland would become the forwards coach for the 2009 British & Irish Lions tour.

DEFENCE COACH – SHAUN EDWARDS

Home Union: England
Current Position: Defence Coach of Wales and London Wasps
Lions Record: No record

Nicknamed ‘Gizmo’, Edwards is a former rugby league scrum half or standoff, best known for his achievements with Wigan, winning a record eight Rugby League Championships and nine Challenge Cups. He was capped 36 times for Great Britain, scoring 16 tries and also represented England in the 1992 and 1995 Rugby League World Cup.

Edwards has gone on to a successful career in rugby union coaching, with Matt Dawson once describing him as ‘the best coach in the world’. Together with Warren Gatland he masterminded 3 successive English Rugby Union Championships with Wasps in 2003, 2004 and 2005, and the Heineken Cup in 2004 and 2007. He teamed up with Warren Gatland again as defence coach of Wales in 2007, which helped him gain the international expereince required to take up the position of defence coach for the 2009 British & Irish Lions tour.

BACKS COACH – ROBERT HOWLEY

Home Union: Wales
Current Position: Assistant Coach of Wales
Lions Record: Playing 1997 & 2001

Born October 1970, Howley is widely regarded as one of the greatest scrum-halves of all time. He won 59 caps for Wales, 22 of them as captain after making his Wales debut in February 1996.

Excitement soared when Howley was selected for the 1997 British Lions Tour to South Africa and a potential match-up with Joost van der Westhuizen. Unfortunately injury prevented him from making a test appearance on the tour, but he eventually represented the British & Irish Lions in 2001 against Australia, playing the first two tests, before again succumbing to injury. A wrist injury forced Howley to announce his retirement from the game in 2004 and went on to coach Cardiff RFC/Blues, and is now the attack coach for the Wales national team.

PHYSICAL CONDITIONING COACH – CRAIG WHITE

Home Union: England
Current Position: National Squad Performance Manager of Wales
Lions Record: Coaching 2005

Craig has worked as a Strength and Conditioning coach since 1990 for teams including Waterloo RFC and the Irish RFU before taking up a position with Wasps RFU in 2002. The 2009 tour will be Craig’s second Lions tour having also toured with the unsuccessful 2005 party to New Zealand. White’s duties will be to ensure the players dietary and conditioning training will be of the highest standard.

HEAD OF PERFORMANCE ANALYSIS – RHYS LONG

Home Union: Wales
Current Position: Head of Performance Analysis of Wales
Lions Record: No record

A former Welsh schools No.8, Long overcame a neck injury to graduate in Sports Science at UWIC in 2003 and an MSc in Performance Analysis. A former London Wasps’ Technical Analyst, he was part of the management team that won the Anglo-Welsh Powergen Cup final and the Heineken Cup in May 2007. Long was appointed Head of Performance Analysis for Welsh Rugby Union in 2007. He not only supports the Wales national side, but also the entire elite performance structure in Wales. Long’s job on the 2009 tour will be to work with management and players in helping to improve player performance from match to match. Hopefully he won’t be needed too much!

HEAD DOCTOR – DR JAMES ROBSON

Home Union: Scotland
Current Position: Head of Medical Services / National Team Doctor of Scotland
Lions Record: Team Doctor for his fifth successive tour having previously toured in 1993, 1997, 2001 and 2005.

James first became involved with the Scottish national team as physio on the 1991 tour to Canada beginning a long association with Rugby Union and the Lions that his seen him follow successive tours ever since. His experience will undoubtedly be welcomed by the other members of the medical party on tour.

HEAD OF MEDIA – GREG THOMAS

Home Union: Wales
Current Position: Director of Sports Media Consultancy Company
Lions Record: No record

Born in 1963, Greg will not be the first member of the Thomas family to tour South Africa with the Lions. His father, Clem Thomas was a player on the 1955 tour. Greg’s rugby playing career includes representing the All Whites, London Welsh, Welsh Universities, Wales Students and Sydney based club, Randwick.

In 1995, he took up a role as the Australia Team Media Manager at the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa. He has since worked in a variety of organisation and communication roles across a number of different sports and most recently as head of Communications and Media at the 2007 World Cup in France. Gregs role will be to form the main link between the team and the media throughout the tour, a role most notably handled somewhat controversially by Alistair Campbell during the last tour.

OPERATIONS MANAGER – LOUISE RAMSAY MBE

Home Union: England
Current Position: No position
Lions Record: Coaching 2005

Louise joined England on their successful World Cup campaign in 2003, tour to Argentina in 2002 and Summer tour to Australia and New Zealand in 2004. She previously worked with the British Olympic Committee winning her MBE as a result of that work over a ten year period. Louise was appointed Tour Manager of the 2005 tour to New Zealand at the same time as Clive Woodwards appointment to Head Coach and his faith in her abilities to manage the tour were recognised as crucial in the smooth running of the tour.

COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER – CHRISTINE CONNOLLY

Home Union: France
Current Position: Communications Manager for Six Nations & British & Irish Lions Companies
Lions Record: No record

Since 2000, Christine has been working for both the British & Irish Lions and the Six Nations companies as Communications Manager.

Christine will be responsible for organising official functions for players and management as well as organising the arrangments for any replacements should they be needed.

MEDIA LIASON – LOUISA CHEETHAM

Home Union: None (She’s from the USA)
Current Position: Communications Manager for Six Nations & British & Irish Lions Companies
Lions Record: Coaching 2001 & 2005.

Louisa joins the tour from a background in sports management and sports agencies. She has worked with the Zurich Premiership, Rugby World Cup and previous two Lions tours to Australia in 2001 and New Zealand in 2005.

To view the profiles of the management team for the 2005 tour, please see our 2005 British Lions Tour Management team page.

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