The British & Irish Lions have announced a partnership with England's Premiership Rugby and the United Rugby Championship that ensures players are available for the 2025 tour to Australia.
The partnership will allow Lions players from the two leagues to be available for all pre-tour activities as well as marketing and promotional activities.
The deal comes after several players from the Premiership were unavailable for preparations ahead of the 2021 tour when a warm-up Test against Japan clashed with the Premiership final.
“We are thrilled to be working in partnership with Premiership Rugby and United Rugby Championship and want to thank them for their support in reaching this landmark agreement. Our relationship with the clubs, who are the guardians of all potential Lions, is critical to any success we have, and we are committed to working with Premiership Rugby and United Rugby Championship in a spirit of collaboration," Ben Calveley, British & Irish Lions CEO, said
“It is crucial that this agreement benefits not just The British & Irish Lions but also Premiership Rugby and United Rugby Championship.
"Our ambition is to make 2025 the greatest Lions Tour ever and we believe the opportunities for collaboration across marketing, promotional and wider activity will add significant value to all organisations.”
Premiership Rugby CEO Simon Massie-Taylor said giving the players the best possible preparation time was vital for both the Lions and the league.
"We are now looking forward to seeing as many Premiership Rugby players as possible competing for a Test jersey and hopefully experience being on a winning tour," he said.
“Everyone at Premiership Rugby understands how crucial it is to work closely with all stakeholders for the game to continue to thrive and grow. And giving our players and The British & Irish Lions the best possible preparation time in history is vital for both the Lions and Premiership Rugby as we support each other on and off the pitch."
"Throughout the professional era our league has been home to an extraordinary number of British & Irish Lions and we are always proud to give our players the best chance of pulling on that famous red jersey. For every tour in the professional era our league has always supported the Lions and their touring schedule because their continued success will always help grow interest in our sport," URC counterpart Martin Anayi added.
The Lions will play three Tests against Australia as well as taking on five Super Rugby franchises and an invitational team made up of players from Australia and New Zealand.