B&I Lions to face NZ Super Rugby teams

Date published: February 27 2015

For the first time, the 2017 British & Irish Lions tour of New Zealand is set to feature games against Kiwi Super Rugby teams.

The Lions will play three Tests in a 10-match tour that is set to interrupt the ever-expanding  Super Rugby season.

Details of the tour will be unveiled in May but New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew says it is unlikely the tourists will face provincial sides, as they did 2005.

"Whether it's inevitable, I wouldn't go quite so far yet. There is a big difference between 2005 [when the Lions last toured] and 2017 and that is in 2005 the Super Rugby competition had finished and players were back in their provinces, explained  Tew, when speaking after February's NZR board meeting.

"In 2017 we will be pausing Super Rugby and therefore players will still be in their Super Rugby environment so it is much more difficult to run a provincial side at that time."

The 2013 Lions played nine games in Australia, three against the Wallabies,  five against the Aussie Super Rugby teams and one against Combined Country, which they won 64-0.

The 2005 tour  featured 11 games: Three Tests, seven against provincial teams and one against the New Zealand Maori.

Tew confirmed that 12 regions had submitted tenders for the Lions matches in 2017 and Test in 2016, which includes a mid-year visit from Wales. NZR is currently assessing how best to allocate fixtures.

"We want as many New Zealanders as possible to have the opportunity to see these games, but we also have to be practical," said Twe.

"The Lions series for example has to flow logically from a travel perspective because we are likely to have in the first part of the tour, we could have 10 or 15,000 supporters, many of whom will be on the roads, following the team so you don't want to be in Whangarei on the Saturday and Invercargill on the Tuesday, that wouldn't work."