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The British & Irish Lions tour is one of the highlights of the rugby calendar. Since the 1980s, the Lions tour has taken place every four years and it involves representatives from the Home Nations (England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales) touring in Australia, New Zealand or South Africa on a rotating basis. On the tour, the Lions team play matches against provincial and non-test-playing teams before they play a series against each nation’s test side.
The British & Irish Lions rugby tour has been in existence since 1888, when the tour was an unsanctioned commercial venture. However, the concept of Lions rugby took hold quickly and the Home Nations created a Tours Committee in 1949. Over this period of time, the standard of the British & Irish Lions rugby union team also improved, and by 1950 each player who went on the British & Irish Lions tour had played at least one game of international rugby.
However, until the 1950s, the Lions were usually successful in games against provincial teams and non-test-playing teams but were far less successful in the test matches. But, this changed in the 1960s when the British & Irish Lions rugby team hired their first ever coach.
In 1971, the Lions secured a test series victory against New Zealand. To this day, it remains the side’s only test series win against the All Blacks. During this decade, the team also went 22 games unbeaten in a tour of South Africa, where they also triumphed 3-0 in a feisty test series which has since gone down as one of the world’s best.
The 1980s test matches were topsy-turvy affairs for the Lions, who lost series against South Africa and New Zealand but beat Australia. Following this, the Lions tour of New Zealand in 1993 was the last of the sport’s amateur era. The Lions lost the series 2-1 before they beat South Africa in 1999.
In the 21st century, Lions rugby tours have become increasingly popular and hard-fought. It’s now incredibly common for over 10,000 Lions fans to descend on the Southern Hemisphere to cheer on their team.
The Lions Tour of 2021 is due to take place in South Africa, where the touring side will take on the current world champions, the Springboks. Read on to find the latest news about the British Lions tour of South Africa and see all the latest fixtures.