The British & Irish Lions today announced the appointment of Tom Grace as Chairman of the Lions Board.
Tom Grace succeeds Gerald Davies who had chaired the Lions Board since September 2010 and was previously British & Irish Lions manager for the 2009 tour to South Africa.
Grace, who is a senior independent director with Paddy Power Plc, is currently Honorary Treasurer of the IRFU and a former Ireland International (25 caps, with eight games as captain).
He was part of the famous British & Irish Lions squad on the 1974 tour to South Africa. By the end of that voyage, he had amassed an impressive tally of 11 appearances and 52 points.
"It is an honour to be appointed Chairman of the British & Lions," commented Grace. "The Lions represent the core values of our sport and I am grateful for the opportunity to represent them as Chairman.
"It is a privilege to take over from Gerald Davies, who has been a wonderful ambassador for the Lions both as a player, tour manager and more recently as Chairman."
John Spencer will be appointed tour manager for the 2017 tour to New Zealand, taking over the duties from Andy Irvine who managed the successful 2013 tour to Australia.
Spencer is the RFU representative on the Lions Board since 2008. He was the RFU representative on the Six Nations Council from 2011 to 2013 and has been on the IRB Board since 2011.
He is a former England captain, Barbarian (18 games as captain) and toured New Zealand and Australia with the Lions in 1971 where he played 10 matches.
"It is a huge privilege and honour to represent the Lions as tour manager, 46 years after I did so as a player," said Spencer. "My predecessor Andy Irvine did a fantastic job in Australia and I am looking forward to following in his footsteps."
As European competitions return this weekend, there will be a number of IRFU referees in action in the European Rugby Champions Cup, the European Rugby Challenge Cup. There is also action in the British and Irish Cup and there's one game in the Ulster Bank League.
As the Ireland Men's Sevens programme continues to build towards the Rugby Europe Grand Prix Series in June and July, Anthony Eddy, the IRFU Director of Sevens Rugby, has named a 14-man squad to take part in a two-day training camp in Cardiff on Thursday and Friday this week.
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt praised the squad's 'immense character' following the 27-24 GUINNESS Series success against Australia. Meanwhile, captain Rory Best reflects on 'an emotional day' as he made his 100th appearance for his country.
Irish Rugby TV brings you a behind the scenes look at Ireland's final GUINNESS Series game against Australia. Joe Schmidt's men marked captain Rory Best's 100th cap with a superb 27-24 victory over the Wallabies.
Saturday's GUINNESS Series clash with Australia marks Michael Kearney's last game as Ireland team manager. We spoke to him about five memorable years in the role. Watch out for a couple of special cameos!
Dick Spring, Chairman of Ireland's RWC 2023 Bid Oversight Board, and Bid Ambassador Brian O'Driscoll speak about their excitement at officially launching Ireland's bid to host the Rugby World Cup in 2023. #Ireland2023
We're ready to create something legendary. A showcase for rugby nations old and new. A tournament that will grow the game globally, promote the values, spirit and ethos of rugby and will capture the world's imagination. #Ireland2023 - Liam Neeson gives voice to Ireland's bid to host Rugby World Cup 2023.
Tickets are now on sale for the first ever Women's November International Series to be held in the UCD Bowl. Kids go free with any adult tickets. Ireland will face world champions England, top ranked Canada and the Black Ferns of New Zealand.
Tournament Director Garrett Tubridy sets the scene for an exciting weekend of rugby at UCD where 16 Women's Sevens teams will battle it out at for one qualifying spot for the Rio Olympics. Tickets are available from www.ticketmaster.ie/sevens.
Tadhg Furlong reflects on a disappointing day for Ireland against South Africa. However, he will take positives from his first Test start and be ready to build for the final match of the series in Port Elizabeth.
Paddy Jackson is preparing for Ireland's second Test against South Africa on Saturday (kick-off 5pm local time/4pm Irish time). The Ulster out-half has been checking out Ellis Park in advance of the match.