Great Britain Lions tours should not been thrown away, insists Barrie McDermott

Barrie McDermott insists there is still a place for the Great Britain Lions in rugby league.

In 2006, the Rugby Football League announced that after the 2007 All Golds Tour the Lions would no longer play on a regular basis, and instead, England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland would compete individually on the international stage.

But the Lions were revived in 2019, when Wayne Bennett’s side embarked on a tour of the southern hemisphere.

It wasn’t the fairytale return for Great Britain though as they failed to win a single game on the tour, having played New Zealand twice, Tonga and Papua New Guinea.

McDermott, who won 15 caps for Great Britain and 15 for Ireland, believes rugby league can’t afford to lose the Lions as a brand and that the concept should remain.

“We didn’t give it enough time for it to gain momentum,” McDermott told Love Rugby League.

“I understand that the Great Britain tour was not quite what it should have been but that doesn’t mean you should just throw it away.

“I’d like to see us get to a point where somebody like Morgan Knowles doesn’t feel the need to swap from Wales to England because there is another tier for him to go at and that is the Great Britain team.

“Great Britain is a brand that rugby league is synonymous with. We need to reinvest in time and effort to get some long-term gains. It is not about the next two or three years, it is about the next 15 or 20 years.”

McDermott won 15 caps for Ireland

McDermott, who played for Ireland at the 2000 World Cup, believes a Lions tour every four years would be the way forward.

That way, England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland could still play individually and then come together as one like the British and Irish Lions in rugby union.

“If you are saying that Great Britain isn’t the correct direction, you want to speak to England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales and put something in every four years,” McDermott added.

“I am huge fan of the rugby union British and Irish Lions, I always have been. I have been since 1997 when they went to South Africa and there were people like Scott Quinnell, Scott Gibbs, John Bentley and Alan Tait for that particular tour and they became a cornerstone of it.

“I’ve always had an envy of what they do but I don’t think its beyond us to look at what they do and try and learn from that and do our own version of that.”

England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland will compete at the Rugby League World Cup this autumn, which gets underway on October 23.

More from McDermott

My Set of Six: with Barrie McDermott featuring Odsal & his wish for future of rugby league

Barrie McDermott would like to see combined Celtic nations team face England

Barrie McDermott on: His love for Ireland, 2000 World Cup & hopes for growth


  1. Barrie as I’m a ex Scotland international at. This great sport of ours your being far to sensible on this subject . Your in danger of getting a job running the international game . I support your views 100% . It’s just the dickheads and idiots running the game you’ve got to convince good luck

    • I think as a touring side GB & I Lions should be a pinnacle of representation abroad. Considering in todays environment that they call for unity and diversity, what could be more representative of 4 nations with a difference of opinion coming together as one to take on the worlds best.
      They could take what they experience back to their camps and learn from it.
      Just like a Home Nation event should see the England Knights instead of England taking part, to help level the playing field.

  2. I couldn’t agree more
    For players from Wales Ireland and Scotland to play on the world stage with a realistic chance of competing with the likes of Australia they need to be part of a Lions team. No of the provincial teams have a chance of lifting the World cup

  3. Every 4 years and after the world cup. In 2022 Australia should finally tour the UK and play GB. And should play the 3 small nations for warm up and midweek games.

  4. I’m unsure. Rugby league has always viewed club above country from what I’ve seen? Rugby league is played in England, Northern England. It’s not played in Scotland or Ireland or even Wales at any great level. If people from other parts of Britain want to support rugby league they should come and play for England, just like people like Widdop do. I tend to judge where people come from their accents. Very, very, very few professional rugby league players don’t have an accent from Northern England.
    If people from the Celtic Nations don’t want to play for England, fine. Rugby league should concentrate on its heartlands, that’s where it support is, that’s where it’s successful. The Magic Weekends in Scotland and Wales did nothing for Rugby League in those countries.
    I realise this post won’t be popular, but in fact I believe this is what most rugby League fans think.

  5. Dear mr mills if everybody thought like you we would never have broken away from rugby Union . As I was born in Glasgow Scotland . I’d rather pull on a Scotland shirt than a England shirt any day of the week and being a ex Scotland international there’s a few things in my rugby collection I value that is My Scotland shirt from the 1995 emerging nations World Cup and my Scotland caps followed by my RAF shirt and my combined services shirts both teams I was told would never survive in this sport well your wrong they both have . Granted I’m not impressed with the progress made by Scotland in the sport . But from little acorn do mighty oak trees grow and if England are that good can you put down on here what you’ve won . So for your opinion on pulling on a England shirt rather than my Scotland shirt not a snow balls chance in hell . Very proud of my scots heritage. Bri shush by birth a scot by the grace of god , that should tell you all you need to know

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