Warm response in Jersey to Gatland visit

JERSEY is keen to welcome the British Lions with open arms this summer.

Warren Gatland (29408816)
Warren Gatland (29408816)

At the end of February, Lions head coach Warren Gatland completed a week-long site visit to Jersey and was reported in the Jersey Evening Press as being hugely impressed with the facilities.

Senator Lyndon Farnham commented on Twitter that they had enjoyed very positive discussions about how they could safely host the Lions and that a ‘warm welcome awaits’.

The reaction to the news in the sister isle was very positive, with numerous comments on social media about how it would be ‘fantastic’ for Jersey, how it could develop the island’s brand as a destination for sports tourism, and be a boost for hospitality.

In contrast, when it became known that Mr Gatland had undertaken a two-day visit to Guernsey without quarantine last weekend, the reaction was negative.

The Guernsey Sports Commission, which aims to lead, represent, and be a voice for sport in Guernsey, said yesterday it had no comment to make at this time.

Guernsey has had tougher border controls than Jersey over the last year. Many islanders have not seen UK family and friends because of the requirements to quarantine.

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Twitter and Facebook have been ablaze with comments that the Lions should stay away and that the integrity of the Guernsey Together message was being undermined because of the perception that there was one rule for wealthy multimillionaires and another rule for everybody else.

Regarding possible States financial assistance to entice the Lions to Guernsey, a spokesperson for the States said yesterday: ‘There have been no discussions about funding’.

Mr Gatland is thought to have scouted out other UK venues but the Channel Islands are particularly appealing on health and safety grounds because of the very low number of Covid-19 cases.

Yesterday Guernsey reported 38 days without an active case. There are six active cases in Jersey.

After 30 April Guernsey looks set to reintroduce border restrictions on a regional and country prevalence basis, meaning that travellers from UK regions with low rates of infection would have to self-isolate only until their test on arrival had come back as negative.

When Mr Gatland was in Jersey he toured the new elite performance complex, Strive, which is due to open next month. The Lions have said that no final decision on the mid-June training camp has been made.

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