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Details announced of historic first-ever Women's British and Irish Lions tour

By Kim Ekin
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - JUNE 09: A Lions corner flag during the British & Irish Lions training session held at Linwood Rugby Club on June 9, 2017 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

The British & Irish Lions has today announced details for the first-ever Lions Women’s Tour to travel to New Zealand in September 2027, with the Lions Women’s team playing three Tests against the Black Ferns.

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Finalised full tour details including the tour schedule are yet to be announced, with assurances that the inaugural test match series will take place during the women’s global competition window, and will not overlap with the men’s Rugby World Cup 2027.

This announcement follows a feasibility study funded by Lions Founding Partner Royal London, who will also be the front of jersey sponsor for the official Lions Women’s Team jersey, which concluded that the optimum time for the Tour is 2027.

The feasibility study also investigated all key aspects of creating a Lions Women’s Tour with a consultation process exploring brand, commercial, financial, spectator, logistical, and scheduling considerations.

Ben Calveley, CEO, British & Irish Lions said, “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.

“It is also significant that we are announcing two major commercial partnerships for the Lions Women’s Tour 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.”

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Mark Robinson, NZ Rugby CEO commented, “When the opportunity arose with The British & Irish Lions to host the first Lions Women’s Tour, we jumped at the chance. We are very passionate about growing and elevating the women’s game in New Zealand, so to be chosen is a great honour for all New Zealand rugby fans. Further to that, this Tour offers New Zealand rugby the chance to build on the legacy created by hosting the Women’s Rugby World Cup.”

Royal London Ambassador and former England International Shaunagh Brown said, “The news is very exciting for women’s rugby. Current players as well as young women and girls starting out in the sport can now dream of wearing that famous red jersey.

“This news is reflective of the upward trajectory Women’s Rugby is on and this Tour represents a great opportunity for the best players from Britain and Ireland to be part of the next exciting chapter of The Lion’s history.”

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2 Comments
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Colin 188 days ago

Journalists should inform us how the funding is completed for Women’s rugby. Is women’s rugby self funding or are they reliant on taking money from men’s rugby. This is controversial but it is a relevant question. My rugby club at Level 6/7 had the infrastructure built on the men’s game for over 80 years. Over 25 years ago we were encouraged by the RFU to start girl’s and women’s rugby. So far so good. However no subs came from the girls or women whereas men had to pay to play rugby. Further the demands for “better” changing facilities, new showers, new kit and the club bar to be open for them keeps coming. But they hardly drink so the bar loses money by staying open for the women.
I wonder whether womens rugby is still largely subsidised by mens rugby at the elite levels. This is a conversation that needs to be had.

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