Historic Move: British and Irish Lions Set to Embark on Inaugural Women’s Tour to New Zealand in 2027

London, January 18, 2024

In a groundbreaking announcement, the British and Irish Lions have revealed plans for their first-ever women’s tour, scheduled to take place in New Zealand in September 2027. The tour is set to feature three Test matches against the formidable Black Ferns, who boast six world championships to their name.

While a detailed schedule is yet to be finalized, Lions chair and former Wales winger Ieuan Evans hailed the decision as a “key development for women’s rugby and women’s sport”in This move is an important step towards advancing gender equality in international rugby.

Lions CEO Ben Calvely expressed the organisation’s commitment to promoting the development of women’s rugby. “He emphasized that promoting the growth of women’s rugby is a crucial strategic priority for the British & Irish Lions, aligning with the focus of each of our unions,” he stated. Calveley acknowledged the collaborative effort of the steering committee, board members, and staff in realizing the concept of a Lions¬† Women’s Tour

The announcement follows an extensive feasibility study exploring various aspects, including rugby, brand, commercial viability, financial considerations, spectator experience, and logistical and scheduling considerations.

The men’s Lions tours, a tradition since 1888, have seen squads composed of players from England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland touring New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia in a four-year rotation. New Zealand, having clinched the past two women’s World Cups, will host the Lions for this historic women’s tour.

Mark Robinson, CEO of New Zealand Rugby, expressed enthusiasm about hosting the inaugural British & Irish Lions Women’s Tour. “Women’s rugby is flourishing rapidly in New Zealand, and with the triumph of the Rugby World Cup in 2022, we’ve witnessed the thrill that world-class competition can ignite,” he remarked.

The tour has already secured sponsorship, indicating early support and interest from the corporate sector. Former England international Shaunagh Brown, who actively participated in the feasibility studies, emphasized the significance of this moment for current and aspiring players. “Current players as well as young women and girls starting out in the sport can now dream of wearing that famous red jersey,” she said.

The historic tour represents a significant milestone for women’s rugby and provides a platform for the best players from Britain and Ireland to contribute to the legacy of the Lions’ history. As anticipation builds, this development is seen as a testament to the positive trajectory women’s rugby is on.

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