Posted by Paddy Thornton on
Who are the British & Irish Lions?
Every rugby player dreams of one day representing their country at the highest level – it's that sort of game.
Rugby Union's greatest event is held every four years when the Rugby World Cup takes place and there is a great competition between countries wanting to the host that event.
But there is one other jersey which rugby players strive hard to earn – it’s the red jersey of the British & Irish Lions which is worn with immense pride with all who earn one.
The Lions is a combined team selected from the four "Home" unions - England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
The first rugby team from the British Isles visited New Zealand in 1888, but this was apparently a team of cricketers and rugby players who also played Australian rules during that part of their tour of Australasia!
The first official tour from the British Isles was in 1904 but it was not until the 1930 tour that a proper organisation was set up by the British and Irish unions to provide protocols for future tours. Over the years the combined British & Irish team set up a regular pattern of separate tours to Australia and South Africa as well as New Zealand. This eventually settled into a regular pattern of a tour every four years to one of the countries, so that each country received a visit from the Lions every 12 years. This 12-year gap serves to add excitement and anticipation to New Zealand every time the Lions roll in.
Eden Park in Auckland is the venue for three games, including two test matches. The third test will be played in Wellington and the other games of Lions are against New Zealand's Super Rugby teams, the Provincial Barbarians and the Maori All Blacks.
With over 20,000 visitors expected accommodation will be pretty tight, but there will be time for visitors to travel around this beautiful country as they watch our own beautiful game!