The British & Irish Lions face a gruelling 10-game tour of New Zealand, including a three-Test series against the All Blacks. ESPN will be there with full, up-to-date coverage every step of the way.
With Warren Gatland’s side having arrived in New Zealand, their focus will now turn to the first game against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians XV. The Lions have won just one series from the 11 previous tours, winning only six games and losing 29 against the All Blacks.
British & Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton accepts a traditional challenge as part of the welcome as the team arrives at Auckland. Fiona Goodall/Getty Images
Fun & Games
Who do you think should start the first Test against the All Blacks on June 24? Ranked the contenders to let us know.
Ahead of the first game of the tour against the NZ Provincial Barbarians, we asked our experts to look into their crystal balls.
Earn bragging rights among your friends by predicting the winner of all 10 tour matches.
Lions head coach Warren Gatland, left, chats to attack coach Rob Howley. Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images
NZ Provincial Barbarians coach Clayton McMillan talks to Tom Hamilton about the unique challenge of bringing together an invitational side to face the Lions.
Jonny Wilkinson, who toured New Zealand with the Lions 12 years ago, discusses that squad’s mistakes and what Gatland & Co. must get right this time around.
Following the 1993 tour of New Zealand, then-coach Sir Ian McGeechan made 18 recommendations for future trips. Were they implemented?
What the 2017 British & Irish Lions lacked in preparation time they made up for in planning as they departed London on Monday afternoon determined to upset the All Blacks.
Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images
Having been mistaken for a possible Lion, ESPN’s Tom Hamilton wonders whether the tourists are being underestimated in New Zealand.
After making the trip from London, Dubai and Melbourne the Lions touched down in Auckland. ESPN’s Tom Hamilton was there to give his first tour diary.
Adam Jones, who played under Lions coach Warren Gatland for Wales, lifts the lid on what it’s like to play under his guidance.
Adam Jones lists the players the Lions will need to be aware of if they want to secure victory in New Zealand.
Lions legend Martin Johnson looks back to 1997 for his fondest memory of wearing the famous red jersey.
All Blacks legend Richie McCaw looks back to 2005 in Wellington when his New Zealand side faced the Lions in a defining Test match.
Welsh legend Gareth Edwards represented the Lions 10 times, he spoke to us about his fondest moment.
Lions coach Warren Gatland looks back to 2013 to when his team had just clinched a memorable series win over Australia.
Akin Solanke-Caulker sat down with the England and Lions wing to discuss Lions selection, Eddie Jones and haircuts.
Rewind: Previous Lions Tours
1959 Lions captain Ronnie Dawson, left, leads his team out alongside All Blacks counterpart, Wilson Whineray. Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
The Lions from the start confronted issues which complicate their existence, and in some cases have persisted to this day. Not the least of their difficulties was raising a half-decent team. The time taken to travel to and from New Zealand in the age before air travel meant that the only players who could accept a tour invitation were those who could afford several months off work.
The 1908 tour of New Zealand is something of an anomaly. The squad was described, correctly, at the time as an Anglo-Welsh team. It played in red shirts with white hoops and attempted to counter the haka with a ‘war cry’ consisting of the words “Rule Britannia, Cymru am Byth (both repeated three times) hip, hip, hurrah (also repeated three times)”.
Some Lions tours are associated with particular players, often captains, in the way that the undefeated 1974 team in South Africa will for ever more be identified with Willie John McBride. With others it is coaches — Carwyn James in 1971 or Clive Woodward in 2005. But the 1930 party which visited New Zealand is remembered most of all for its manager, the forthright James ‘Bim’ Baxter.
The team of 1950 were the first modern Lions, recognisable except in the matter of playing 30 matches to the eyes of 2017. They adopted the red shirts which are now as synonymous with them as gold is with Australian rugby and Brazilian football, also late adopters. And they were much more representative than their predecessors of the strength of British and Irish rugby.
No British & Irish Lions party can have departed with less reason to hope, but few have returned to greater acclaim than Ronnie Dawson’s 1959 team. They did not win the Test series, but could claim to have got closer to beating New Zealand than any of their predecessors.
Measured purely by results the 1977 British & Irish Lions were among the most successful visitors to New Zealand, winning one Test out of four and coming within minutes of sharing the series. But it certainly was not seen that way at the time. Few if any Lions teams have been quite such a disappointment.
The 1983 Lions tour of New Zealand looks to modern eyes like a marathon, an 18-match expedition including four tests. But to contemporaries, not least the Lions management team of Willie John McBride and coach Jim Telfer, who had been team-mates on the 35-match trip to New Zealand, Australia and Canada in 1966, it looked more like a sprint.
The 1993 British Lions tour to New Zealand, the first for a decade, the last by players who were still officially amateur and the first since 1908 with only three Tests rather than four, comes into the category of ‘missed opportunities’. Like the squad who visited Australia four years earlier they went into the final Test with a chance to win the series, but they didn’t.
The most recent British & Irish Lions trip to New Zealand is by definition the most vividly remembered, not least by those of us who were lucky enough to be there. Yet it was at the time a venture whose failure, with a comprehensive whitewashing in the tests, seemed to threaten the future of the Lions.
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Full coverage of the Lions tour of New Zealand
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