Who are the British and Irish Lions?
Every four years, the Home Nations encompassing England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, join together to form a rugby team that tours the southern hemisphere. Tired, battered and bruised from the gruelling 6 Nations tournament that happens only weeks before, this newly formed team of rugby legends put aside their differences and create a force not to be reckoned with…
Or so it should be! Although it might be hard to admit, the British rugby Lions’ win percentage in games throughout its history is only 40%. But with a new team every four years, the Lions were well prepared for their latest tour to New Zealand. Here’s all you need to know about the British & Irish Lions.
Who are they?
The Lions are a rugby union test side selected from players eligible for any of the Home Nations. Although the team generally consists of international players, they can also comprise uncapped players available to any one of the four unions. The team tours every four years, rotating between Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
For all the latest news about The Lions, who is in the current team and all upcoming events keep up to date with their official website https://www.lionsrugby.com/
The first tour dating as far back as 1888 was to Australia and New Zealand and lasted a staggering 249 days. No test matches were played at this point but the team, captained by Robert Seddon, won a total of 27 out of 35 games, after drawing 6 and only losing 2.
The first officially sanctioned tour was in 1891 in South Africa, which saw the Lions come out on top for the first ever international test series. Up to this point the team had predominantly consisted of English players, but as the 1891 team contained four Scots, the team was formerly known as the British Isles.
It was only in 1910 that the team was first selected by members of all four Home Unions. The 26-strong Lions played the South Africa tour in blue jerseys with a quartered crest depicting the four nations.
The 1950s tours saw high win rates in provincial games, but the Test series were typically lost or drawn. This was the first tour that consisted of internationally capped players only. It was around this time that the British Isles team adopted the iconic red kit as well as picking up the nickname ‘The Lions’ due to the emblem on their ties.
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