Ireland coach Farrell to join up with Lions for Springbok series

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell is to join the British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa and fill the role as defence coach for the third time after the Irish play two home Tests in early July
Ireland head coach Andy Farrell is to join the British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa and fill the role as defence coach for the third time after the Irish play two home Tests in early July Filippo MONTEFORTE AFP
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Dublin (AFP)

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell is to be part of the British & Irish Lions coaching team for a third time and will join up after the Irish play two Tests in July.

The 46-year-old Englishman will oversee Ireland's two home Tests against Japan and the United States (July 4/10) and then join up with Warren Gatland's squad at least a week ahead of the first Test (July 24) with world champions South Africa.

He had originally ruled himself out of contention for the tour due to the Irish being scheduled to play a Test series in Fiji, but that was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Farrell was defence coach on the past two Lions tours under Gatland -- the series win over Australia (2013) and the epic drawn one with then-world champions New Zealand in 2017.

"We were always happy to do that, Warren was always happy to have Andy there," said David Nucifora, Irish Rugby Football Union performance director, on permitting Farrell to join the Lions.

"It's good for Andy, it's good for our players that are on the Lions tour."

Farrell guided Ireland to third place in last season's Six Nations, ending it with three successive victories including an away win over Scotland and an impressive 32-18 home victory over England.

Farrell is not the only national head coach to be in Gatland's team with Scotland's Gregor Townsend filling the role of attack coach.