Thursday 30 April 2009 | British and Irish Lions Rugby feed | All feeds


Lions cancel altitude training camp in Spain

The British and Irish Lions have cancelled their pre-tour altitude training camp in Spain because of problems over the availability of players for the trip.

Lions cancel altitude training camp in Spain
Glitch: Lions coach Ian McGeechan has been forced to cancel an altitude training camp in Spain due to the unavailability of a number of players Photo: PA

Lions coach Ian McGeechan had hoped to take a party to the Spanish city of Granada, at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains almost 750 metres above sea-level, before the squad assembles at Pennyhill Park Hotel in Bagshot on May 18.

Two of the three Test matches will be played at high altitude, with the second Test at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium, which is almost 1,400m above sea-level, and the third Test at Ellis Park (1,700m).

But with so many of McGeechan's squad still involved in the Heineken Cup, European Challenge Cup and Guinness Premiership play-offs and Magners League title race, it has proved impossible to find an agreed window.

If Munster and Cardiff reach the Heineken Cup final on May 23, 13 players will be involved, while the Magners League, led by Munster, only finishes six days earlier.

"It [the trip to Granada] has been cancelled," Lions chief executive John Feehan said. "When we looked into the trip in more detail it was felt that the benefits were not worth the hassle."

Gloucester's Iain Balshaw has joined the English exodus to France by signing a two-year deal with Biarritz.

Wasps trio James Haskell, Riki Flutey and Tom Palmer have already signed for French clubs while Newcastle centre Jamie Noon and Bristol scrum-half Shaun Perry have both been linked with Flutey's new club Brive.

Balshaw, who has won 35 caps for England, is one of a number of high-profile players set to leave Kingsholm. Gloucester have also lost Olly Barkley, who has returned to Bath, while Ryan Lamb has been linked with a move to London Irish and Anthony Allen to Leicester Tigers.

Wasps scrum-half Eoin Reddan has signed for Leinster, while Charlie Beech and Marty Veale have signed new contracts at Adams Park.

Karl Mullen, the man who captained Ireland's first Grand Slam-winning team in 1948 and the British and Irish Lions on their tour to Australia and New Zealand in 1950, has died after a long illness. He was 82.

In association with HSBC



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