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."
The Ireland coaching staff has named a 38 player squad for the first two rounds of the RBS 6 Nations Championship. The squad had been reduced through injury as well as a number of Wolfhounds returning to their provinces.
Hooker Richardt Strauss believes the competition for places in the squad is driving the players on as the Ireland Wolfhounds face England Saxons in Cork tonight, just a week before the start of the 2015 RBS 6 Nations.
Irish Rugby TV went behind the scenes at the launch of the RBS 6 Nations in the Hurlingham Club in London. It was a case of 'lights, camera, action' as Joe Schmidt and Paul O'Connell spoke to the assembled media to preview rugby's greatest Championship.
Ulster youngster Iain Henderson talks about his return from injury after seven months on the sidelines. He will play for Ireland Wolfhounds on Friday, as competition increases for Six Nations selection.
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt speaks about player injuries ahead of the start of the RBS 6 Nations, his side's title defence, the challenge of facing Italy away first up and mentions some of the players who might feature for the Ireland Wolfhounds on Friday.
Newly-appointed Ireland Women's captain Niamh Briggs chats to Russell Hargreaves at the launch of the RBS 6 Nations Championship. She talks about her captaincy role, the uncapped players who have come on board and the mood in camp ahead of next week's opener away to Italy.
Speaking at the 2015 RBS 6 Nations launch, Ireland captain Paul O'Connell comments on matters both provincial and national as he looks forward to leading his country for the defence of their Championship crown.
Ireland Under-20 head coach Nigel Carolan looks forward to the 2015 campaign and discusses the objectives for his squad this season. There is a strong emphasis on player development at this level which Carolan believes is important in bringing young talent through to the professional game.
Speaking ahead of Saturday's clash with Australia, Ireland flanker Rhys Ruddock said: "We need to bring the defensive physicality we had against South Africa, as Australia have threats all over the park. We need to be at the top of our game."
As the countdown continues to Ireland's GUINNESS Series showdown with Australia, number 8 Jamie Heaslip talks about the Georgia game and what it will be like to face an 'old friend' in Michael Cheika this Saturday.