Rugby Australia [RA] would be keen to include Fiji and Tonga in the 2025 British and Irish Lions tour of Australia.
In the wake of the Lions’ recent tour of South Africa, which resulted in a 2-1 victory over the Springboks, RA chairman Hamish McLennan has revealed he wants to add a revolutionary twist to the upcoming tour. in four years. .
“People are already enthusiastic about it. The Lions are the highlight of the calendar but it’s the fans who round it out. We want this to be full blown, with as many of them here as possible, ”McLennan told the Daily mail.
“We want to anchor it in what a traditional Lions tour looks like for fans and players. We want to offer competitive matches against our teams and we would also like to bring in countries like Fiji and Tonga.
“We want to increase the market value of the tour and that’s what a lot of people would like to see.”
Such a move would be a first for the British and Irish Lions, who have never played a test match against a Pacific Island nation in the team’s 133-year history.
The Lions made history ahead of their tour of South Africa in June when they hosted Japan at Murrayfield in Edinburgh in what was the first-ever clash between the two sides.
Warren Gatland’s side have 28-10 wins in that game, but it looks like more history could be written when the Lions travel down for their 2025 tour.
McLennan told the Daily mail that, while the rugby union in Australia struggles to compete with rival football codes of the AFL and NRL, the inclusion of Pacific island nations and the implementation of a rugby from fluid attack will help attract fans.
“Our guys will be playing a very different style of rugby,” said McLennan, referring to the much mocked style of play showcased during the Lions vs. Springboks test series.
“We’re trying to rediscover the style of play that made us famous. This fluid attack. Go back to Ella Brother, Jason Little, Tim Horan. These guys were fabulous.
“The ratings were off the charts for our games against France last month. The games were great, close and entertaining.
– RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 9, 2021
“We have some good young guys coming up. Noah Lolesio is already proving he can handle moments of pressure and our Under-20s are doing pretty well.
“We know we have to entertain. We compete with other winter sports in AFL and NRL and we realize that we have to sell ourselves.
McLennan added that he anticipates the advent of COVID-19 will have passed by the time the Lions’ next tour rolls around, which could lead to six-figure crowds.
Melbourne Cricket Ground, which can seat up to 100,000, has reportedly already expressed interest in hosting a test, and McLennan is eager to host more matches than in South Africa.
This year’s tour has been condensed to eight matches instead of its usual 10, but McLennan wants a full set of matches spread across Australia.
“It’s one-dimensional rugby. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. “
– @bensmithrugby on a “very good” Springboks team and the test ahead to do better than their average win percentage. https://t.co/o3pRUDjljW
– RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 9, 2021
“The more matches the better it is because it makes it public,” he told the Daily mail.
“Traditionally they have done 12 or 13 games and we want a traditional tour. Our midweek games against France, on winter nights when there was no other sport, were a real crash.
“We are already seeing a lot of competition for stadiums from state governments. They are keenly aware of what a Lions tour can bring and how big a big event it is. We have high quality stadiums everywhere. We are going to broadcast it and it will be fantastic.
“We have a brand new stadium in Townsville, well to the north near the Great Barrier Reef. Our infrastructure is first class.
“We could make about 100,000 at MCG and I have no doubt we could fill that out for a Lions game. Sydney, Perth, you name it. It will be a great event.
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly roundup of the vast world of rugby.