June 8th, 2017
Here in Wales we’re never far from a rugby game, and this summer is no different. 2017 is time for the British and Irish Lions Tour – and this year, the team are heading to New Zealand to compete in a series of test matches against the mighty Southern Hemisphere teams.
The British and Irish Lions is a rugby team made up of players who are eligible to play for any of the home nation teams – that is Wales, England, Ireland and Scotland. The team tours every four years – and always to a Southern Hemisphere team to play them. The British and Irish Lions Tour 2017 takes place in New Zealand, where the Lions will play the formidable All Blacks.
The Lions tour tradition dates back to 1888, when rugby captain Robert Seddon led 22 players on a rugby playing tour of Australia and New Zealand, which lasted 250 days! Of course, there were no luxury jet planes in those days, so the voyage across the ocean took 46 days…… They then competed in no fewer than 35 games with local teams, and winning a whopping 27 of them! The tour was beset with tragedy however, when their captain Robert Seddon drowned in a boating accident whilst they were there.
This didn’t deter a future tour though, and the Lion set off again three years later in 1891. This time they had the backing of the rugby authorities (on both sides), and the team headed to South Africa, this time to play not only local clubs, but international test games too.
And so, the idea of a touring rugby test series was born. Every four years, the British and Irish Lions team head to either Australia, New Zealand or South Africa (and occasionally Argentina) to play a series of club games and also test games. Since the 1950s, the Lions have played in a red strip, that represents the amalgamation of all four country’s crests.
This year, the British and Irish Lions Tour 2017 is taking place in New Zealand, and the Lions will play ten rugby matches against regional clubs and three test matches against New Zealand’s international team – the All Blacks. The competition has already kicked off (the first match was on the 3rd June), but the matches continue until the 10th July, although because of the time difference, you’ll have to be up early to catch them!
The squad this year is led by head coach Warren Gatland, and includes 12 welsh players, not to mention the captain Sam Warburton – a veteran international player.
The Lions won their first match, against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians (7-13 to the visitors) but lost their next game to the Blues (22-16).
The next match will take place on Saturday 10th June against the Crusaders in Christchurch (kick off 19:35 regional time – 07:35 BST).
You can find more details about all of the matches, teams, players and news at www.lionsrugby.com