British Lions Itinerary announced for South Africa 2009

The itinerary for the 2009 tour of South Africa by the British and Irish Lions has been announced. It sees 10 matches in a 5 week period, mirroring the last tour to New Zealand. Hopefully it will prove rather more successful than that one.

This will be a crucial tour for the Lions as they seek to confirm that they have as illustrious a future as they have had a past. The first two tours of the professional era produced terrific rugby, even if 2001 was somewhat turbulent. However, as the effects of professional rugby took hold, 2005 was an unmitigated disaster, begging the question of whether a scratch team can really be expected to compete with the best in the professional era. The opposition may have been an excellent New Zealand team (unusually peaking right between 2 World Cups), but the Lions didn’t even compete.

Ian McGeechan is the favourite to be Head Coach and if anyone knows how to win on a Lions tour it is him. The 1989 victory in Australia was fantastic, the 1997 win in South Africa even better. ESPN Classics showed the 1997 ‘Living with the Lions’ programme again a couple of months ago and, despite having watched it live at the time, I could not believe the quality of the rugby the Lions played. It was high tempo and precise with players offloading left, right and centre. And the banter was top drawer. If McGeechan takes the role, he is likely to select the Wales dream team of Gatland and Edwards as his assistants and they have shown recently that they can turn a team around pretty quickly.

Lions’ tours are absolutely awesome. Get the dates in your calendar and bring it on.

The British Lions’ itinerary:

May 30, Highveld XV (Rustenburg)

June 3, Golden Lions (Johannesburg)

June 6, Cheetahs (Bloemfontein);

June 10, Sharks (Durban)

June 13, Western Province (Cape Town)

June 16/17 tbc, Coastal XV tbc (Port Elizabeth tbc)

June 20, South Africa (Durban)

June 23, Emerging Springboks (Cape Town)

June 27, South Africa (Pretoria)

July 4, South Africa (Johannesburg)

16 thoughts on “British Lions Itinerary announced for South Africa 2009

  1. I would sacrifice my left nut to join the Barmy Army for this tour. I predict an epic series to rival 1997, with another 2-1 Lions victory re-establishing their proud legacy, which was never in doubt in my book anyway…

  2. Yeah, I think it will be a great tour too. The last tour left everyone so depressed but it’s easy to forget that there’s only been one really awful Lions series in the pro era. The 2001 series saw some good rugby and but for Grey’s tackle on Hill the whole series might have been different.

    I remember on the eve of the First Test in 2005 ESPN were also repeating “Living with the Lions” then. Watching it made me quite nostalgic and excited about the series that was about to begin (I’d just come in after a few beers too and was leathered, which admittedly had a bearing on it all!).

    Then I woke up with a hangover and watched that crap and felt like I never wanted to watch a game of rugby again.

    I have every confidence though, 2009 will be very different.

  3. The first game of the Lions tour has been arranged on the same day as the Guinness Premiership final. The RFU insisted the tour was moved so it didn’t compromise the agreement with the clubs that the playes have a rest of a certain length in the summer months. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE? Have they no sense of priorities? It’s a frickin Lions tour for crying out loud. You can’t start the tour with a load of the squad missing.

  4. This will not be a repeat of 1997 the south africans will be ready and also they are the world champs

  5. As a very proud supporter of the Lions it pains me to say that it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if the Lions lost all of their matches against the Springboks and the Provincial teams. With the exception of Ireland and Wales (and they are no great shakes), NH rugby is in a dismal state at the moment. If you watch the Super 14 and Tri Nations, they are in a different stratosphere to us. I really hope I’m wrong but Jaantjes, Habana, Pietersen, Nokwe, Jacobs, de Villiers, Olivier, Steyn, Pienaar, James, du Preez, Kockett, Januarie, Steenkamp, Smit, du Plessis, the Beast, Matfield, Botha, Becker, Roussow, Spies, Kankowski, Smith, Burger et al say I’m not. This isn’t 1997 and the game is no longer amateur.

  6. Why have the Lions called themselves such a daft name? The Southern Hemisphere Nations see the British Isles as a geographical feature and the ‘Lions’ as a nickname: they themselves use All Blacks, Springboks, etc. It’s only the Irish who take exception to the term ‘British’ . The logical outcome of this thinking is to call the touring side the English, Irish, Scottsih and Welsh Lions – ludicrous.

  7. Can anyone who watched the Super 14 final and the Lions first game honestly believe we are in the same league as the possible SA XV??
    Unless the SA selectors get it spectacularly wrong we will be lucky to win half of the provincial games and lose the series 3 – 0.

  8. Excellent optimism there Tony!

    I see where you’re coming from, and a similar thing happened in the first Lions match last tour (vs Argentina) which then went on to be a disastrous trip, but i’m reserving judgement until after the first three games when we’ll all have a better idea of what this squad is capable of.

  9. Im not so sure about that guys!! I mean, for the first couple of matches South Africa may get complacent and think that they will just walk over us – which could easily be their downfall. With more and more wins (hopefully) for the Lions in the warm up matches the team will hopefully gel more and not be a team of individuals!! The other day my dad found a wicked deal, so we’re going over to South Africa to watch one of the tests in Durban.. Its with a company called “ITC Sports” who were recommended to us by a friend.. I cant wait to go, win or lose its going to be awesome!!

  10. the irish will never fully support this tour until we get respect we are not british we are proud irish its not hard to say british and irish lions.

  11. Damien

    We all respect you. However, the Irish must be the only nation in the world that still sees the British Isles (or which Ireland is an important, essential and welcome part) as part of a British Empire and not a geographical area. Republicans are forever wittering on about ‘the British Government’. There is no such thing – it’s the UK Government. Also don’t forget it was only the English who had the bottle to play rugby in Dublin at the height of the IRA troubles – fellow Celts (Scots and Welsh) cowered at home. I suggest you read and try to lose the ‘chip’. Southern Hemisphere fans will regard the Lions as coming from the British Isles no matter what you say and feel. Two islands don’t stop the All Blacks playing together as one and neither should ours.

  12. Hmm well I’m with the Irish on this one just because British Lions was the accepted nomenclature 40 years ago doesn’t make it right now and it’s nothing to do with geography .We Celts do tend to be more sensitive on these things you know partly because the term British or Brits is more often or not seen abroad as being synomonous with England and English at least it is when you have to spend half an hour in a bar to a friendly American that Wales is part of Britain !

  13. Pontylad -I agree that when seen from abroad, British is often synonymous with English. When I discuss these things with my Irish friends in Cork they use the term Brit. And when I ask them to define the term, it is obvious they mean English. What Celts in general don’t appreciate is that, within England itself, there are great disparities between the various regions. People in the North East have much in common with Border Scots: people from Lancashire are very similar to the Irish in terms of friendliness and temperament. At the great risk of raising a few hackles, I would suggest that the type of Englishman disliked by Celts and ex colonials alike are the upper class denizens of the Home Counties with their elongated vowels sounds and strangulated pronunciation of foreign place names – Pakistarn, Costa Blarnca, Natarl, Madrars, etc!!!!!

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