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SLI hints at next Lions tour as Gatland installed

Gatland: excited (Photo by Terry Murden)
Gatland: excited (Photo by Terry Murden)

Rugby – British & Irish Lions: Wales coach Warren Gatland was today unveiled as head coach for the tour to New Zealand next summer.

Gatland said he was “incredibly excited” about the prospect of coaching the team and would be starting work immediately.

His appointment was confirmed at a media conference at Standard Life House in Edinburgh. Standard Life Investments is sponsoring the tour and there were hints that it may extend its support to the next tour of South Africa in 2021.

Nuala Walsh, head of global client relationships and marketing at SLI, told Daily Business: “The deal is for this tour, but it is a long-term relationship.”

She said the Lions management approached Standard Life Investments and the company saw that it was a “market fit” that would complement its own global ambitions.

Gatland facing media scrum (Photo by Terry Murden)
Gatland facing media scrum (Photo by Terry Murden)

“Global expansion is a key goal. We are both about teamwork and being ‘the best of the best’,” she said.

Standard Life Investments also sponsors golf’s Ryder Cup.

British & Irish Lions chairman Tom Grace and chief executive John Feehan joined former Lions player John Spencer to make the official announcement.

New Zealander Gatland led the British and Irish select side to a series win over Australia three years ago – its first series win for 16 years – and this will be his third successive Lions tour, having been an assistant coach in South Africa in 2009.

Spencer said: “His international track record speaks for itself and he also understands the essence of the Lions and how to unite four nations in one purpose.”

Scotland coach Vern Cotter, who is handing over to Gregor Townsend next year, is thought to have been considered for the job.

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Tennis – US Open: Defending champion Novak Djokovic has never had it so easy after his third opponent this tournament retired early.

A knee injury forced Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to pull out with their quarter final tie favouring the Serb 6-3 6-2.

Djokovic has benefited from a walkover and two retirements, meaning he has completed just two of his five matches in New York. Djokovic said the scenario was one he needed, given his own injuries. He has been struggling with wrist and right elbow problems.

“I got a lot of days off and recovered my body,” he said. “Right now I’m feeling very close to the peak. That’s the position where I want to be.”

He will now face Tsonga’s compatriot Gael Monfils who beat Nadal’s conqueror Lucas Pouille in straight sets 6-4 6-3 6-3.

Second seed Andy Murray plays Kei Nishikori today while Juan Martin del Potro and Stan Wawrinka complete the last of the quarter-finals.

In the women’s draw Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki will meet German second seed and Wimbledon finalist Angelique Kerber in the semi-final.

 



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