Lions 2013: Graham Rowntree & Andy Farrell clear to join Gatland

Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree
Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree

The Rugby Football Union is happy for Warren Gatland to approach England's Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree for the Lions' 2013 tour of Australia.

And Gatland, named head coach of the British and Irish Lions in September, has been given the all-clear to invite the pair to join his staff.

"I don't see it as a negative. I see it very much as a positive," said RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie.

"Our view is that it is an honour to be asked to be involved with the Lions."

Gatland has confirmed Farrell - England's defence and backs coach - is on his shortlist to join the coaching staff, while Rowntree worked with Gatland as a scrummaging specialist in Ian McGeechan's coaching set-up on the 2009 Lions tour of South Africa.

Both Farrell and Rowntree have been involved with England's coaching set-up since December 2011, although Farrell returned to Saracens for a time after this year's Six Nations before deciding to join Stuart Lancaster's England staff on a full-time basis.

Gatland is expected to announce his coaching staff next month and despite England's summer tour of Argentina clashing with the Lions' tour of Australia, the RFU said the schedule clash was not an issue.

Ritchie added: "We want to support the Lions. We are one of the shareholders in the Lions, so why wouldn't we?

"Of course it has some difficulties in terms of the summer tour in Argentina but we would deal with that.

"You have to see it as an opportunity - not only is it an honour but you would believe they would learn a lot in those situations and it gives us an opportunity to broaden our horizons."