The Irish union’s approval sets the stage for Andy Farrell to guide the Lions in 2025.

Andy Farrell is expected to be announced as the head coach of the British & Irish Lions for the 2025 tour of Australia next month, following approval from the IRFU.

Farrell has agreed to extend his contract as Ireland’s head coach until the 2027 World Cup, with the IRFU expressing their excitement about him potentially leading the Lions as well.

The 48-year-old Englishman declined to be one of Warren Gatland’s assistants for the 2021 Lions tour of South Africa, but fulfilled that role on the 2013 and 2017 tours of Australia and New Zealand respectively. Gatland has ruled himself out of a fourth consecutive tour as head coach and has endorsed Farrell, who previously guided Ireland to the top of the world rankings.

Following the announcement of Farrell’s contract extension, David Nucifora, the IRFU performance director, welcomed the potential approach from the Lions. Like Gatland, who took sabbaticals before the 2013 and 2017 tours, Farrell would likely be expected to do the same.

“We would be delighted if Andy is named the Lions coach, so hopefully that honor is next for him and we would have no issues with managing it,” said Nucifora. “Regarding the duration of time he might be away from us, that’s something we can discuss if this happens.”

Farrell was appointed as Ireland’s head coach in 2019, succeeding Joe Schmidt. He led the team to their first series victory in New Zealand in 2022 and a Six Nations grand slam earlier this year. However, Ireland was eliminated by the All Blacks in the quarter-finals of the World Cup in France.

“Coaching this team has been an incredibly enjoyable experience and I am proud to continue my association with the IRFU,” said Farrell. “It is a privilege to work with such talented and dedicated players, and as we enter a new cycle, it will be exciting to see more players emerge through the system.”

In the meantime, Rob Howley has been appointed as part of Warren Gatland’s coaching staff for the Six Nations. This marks Howley’s return to involvement with Wales since being banned for breaching betting regulations four years ago. Howley previously served as Wales’ attack coach from 2008 to 2019, during which the national side won four Six Nations titles, three of them grand slams.

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