IT IS one of the most venerable endeavours in modern sport. This year’s trip to New Zealand marks the 33rd time that the British and Irish Lions—a rugby-union dream team of the best players from England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland—have ventured to the southern hemisphere, a voyage that they first made in 1888. Today’s tours, which take place every four years, rotating between South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, are very much a relic of the 19th century. The concept of a “best-of-British” (and later Irish) team was distinctly imperial. Since it took several weeks to sail by boat to British colonies and contest international fixtures, it made sense for the visitors to play club sides as well. Those extra games gave a disparate group of travellers time to gel.
For the players who have the honour of being selected and the fans that make the pilgrimage, a Lions tour remains one of the most important events in the sporting…Continue reading
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