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Statement: British and Irish Lions set for historic tour of New Zealand in 2027

BY Jack Tunney  ·  Tuesday Jan 16, 2024

The British and Irish Lions have been a staple of rugby lore ever since their first tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1888. The tours, which take place every four years, are always met with much anticipation and excitement, with fans getting the opportunity to see the greatest players from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales come together to take on a common enemy.

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Following the success of the recent WXV competition, the sport is once again evolving, with the inaugural women’s Lions tour set to take place in September 2027. Travelling to the furthest reaches of the world, the very best from Great Britain and Ireland will take on the six-time World Cup winners, New Zealand.

Hear what those in charge have to say:

Ben Calveley, CEO, British & Irish Lions

“Supporting the growth of the women’s game is a key strategic priority for The British & Irish Lions as it is for each of our Unions. Significant effort has gone into exploring the concept of a Lions Women’s Tour and great credit needs to go to the members of our steering committee, our board, and our staff. In particular, I want to recognise the collaboration of our four Unions and thank them for their continued support and the level of commitment they have shown throughout this journey. I would also like to thank World Rugby for the reforms to regulation 9 which makes this Tour possible in 2027. We are also very grateful to all the clubs as well as wider stakeholders who have all been very supportive and accommodating during this process. We look forward to collaborating further with all stakeholders over the coming months to finalise plans for this historic Tour”.

“It is also significant that we are announcing two major commercial partnerships for the Lions Women’s Tour today which is recognition of the huge potential of the Tour, the desire for large brands and organisations to be associated with it, as well as the growth of women’s rugby. Royal London has been an outstanding partner to The British & Irish Lions and a consistent advocate both for this Tour and for the women’s game. Their aim is to make a positive impact on women’s rugby and continue its growth and success story and we are honoured to have them on board.”

“We are thrilled to confirm Howden as the Series Title Partner for the Tour to New Zealand. They have demonstrated a real appetite and desire to support the women’s game and get behind this Tour and we look forward to working closely with them in the years ahead.” 

“Playing three Test matches against the current world champions, the Black Ferns in New Zealand in front of thousands of fans represents the ultimate challenge and makes for a fantastic sporting spectacle. We look forward to working with all our stakeholders including New Zealand Rugby to finalise an exciting inaugural Tour.”

New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson

“Hosting this tour gives our players a pinnacle event that will be a highlight in their career and it provides an aspirational pathway for our emerging players. There is nothing quite like a Lions tour to engage and excite fans. We think this will have a unique flavour, a freshness and excitement to it like we saw during the Rugby World Cup.

“We will be taking this tour around the country; it will genuinely be something that all kiwis can get behind and get excited about. As we anticipate the continued growth of the women’s game globally, we are going to see these teams bringing to life an amazing tour,” said Robinson.

The bid to host the tour was strongly supported by the New Zealand Government with Economic Development Minister Melissa Lee saying, “Hosting this event will help us to further increase the value and visibility of women’s sport in New Zealand and create new sporting heroes and role models for our younger generations.

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“The on-field action is set to be matched by positive economic benefits as we look forward to seeing kiwis pack stadiums and welcoming the legion of fans that will come to New Zealand for this historic tour.”

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