The game of rugby union formed in 1886 in England where soon its popularity spread to many of the nations in the British Empire including Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. New Zealanders have embraced it as their national sport, as has Wales, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga. Today, the game of rugby is played with fierce competition across six continents, and in over 100 countries. The British and Irish Lions (formerly the British Isles) are a touring representative side featuring the best rugby union players from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The Lions (sometimes also called the British Lions) come together once every four years to tour New Zealand, South Africa and Australia in rotation as part of the tradition of encouraging rugby union competition in the southern hemisphere for the mentioned former colonial countries. With the British & Irish Lions tour players now finalised (with Sam Warburton as captain), it is only timely to mention the team’s past Lions tours in Australia, and the history that has been made to make Lions Tour the most legendary game in rugby.
To date the British lions have toured Australia 12 times and have been majorly dominate in all tours. The British Lions played their official first test match against Australia on Australian soil in 1899. Just a year earlier, savvy sporting businessmen Alfred Shaw and Arthur Shrewsbury sent an English cricket side to tour Australia. Such was the success, that they planned to send a 22 man rugby team of players from England, Wales and Scotland to wreak havoc in the Southern Hemisphere. The first test series saw the British Lions victorious over the Wallabies 3-1. Again in 1904, and 1959, the Lions rampaged through Australia, undefeated, and in 1989 Australia took out the opening of the three test series, but couldn’t see it through. In 2001, the Wallabies finally made a piece of history by defeating the Lions in a cliff-hanger of a series. The top scorer throughout the entire Lions Tour history in Australia was Jonny Wilkinson (36) points, which became one of the games that caused him to rise to acclaim from 2001 to 2003 as one of the world’s best rugby union players.
Back when the Lions first visited our shores, 125 years ago, and the population of Australia was around a mere three million people, compared to the 23 million living here today. In June, the British and Irish Lions are coming down under for the 2013 British Lions tour against the Wallabies, and the stalwart fans they bring with them, as well as Aussie supporters think nothing of travelling all over Australia to see them play. Now, it’s time for the British & Irish Lions return to seek revenge and heal the hurt. 12 years of anticipation will produce nine games, which includes three tests, commencing on June 8 against the Queensland Reds at Suncorp Stadium. Games will also be played in the ACT, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Newcastle. Wherever you are, support your team, make the most of the rugby party hype with a few celebratory drops of the best wines in Australia – the Margaret River in Perth, the Barossa Valley when you’re in Melbourne or the Hunter Valley near Sydney, with Travellers Autobarn special Lions Tour 2013 campervan hire sales package.
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