British & Irish Lions to play 10 NZ matches in 2017

New Zealand Rugby and British and Irish Lions 2017 have agreed a programme
of 10 matches during their 2017 Series in New Zealand which will include three
Tests against the All Blacks, with the Series starting in Whangarei on 3 June
2017 and finishing in Auckland on 8 July.

“The British and Irish Lions Tour is one of those very special events
for any rugby fan and we all remember how the 2005 Series captivated this country.
The 2017 Series is likely to be one of the most significant sporting events
our country has hosted since Rugby World Cup 2011 and perhaps the biggest New
Zealand will host for some time, New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew
said.

“The Series will feature matches throughout New Zealand and in addition
to 10 All Blacks Tests in 2016 and 2017, there’ll be enormous opportunity
for the whole country to not only enjoy quality international rugby, but to
also share in the economic benefits that the matches present.

“More than 20,000 Lions supporters travelled to New Zealand in 2005,
generating more than $135m in benefits – we’re confident the 2017
Series will exceed these figures.

“Over the last few years New Zealand has shown we can successfully host
some of the biggest events in international sport and provide visitors with
a unique and welcoming experience.

“The Series in New Zealand will be a huge occasion, featuring the best
players from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales and providing almost six weeks
of incredible rugby with matches against Super Rugby teams, the Maori
All Blacks and a Provincial Union XV side.

“As with 2005 we expect demand for tickets to be exceptionally high and
we intend to be in a position to confirm ticketing arrangements later this year.
Tickets for the Series against Wales will go on sale early next year.”

John Feehan, Chief Executive of the British and Irish Lions said: “There
is a rich history between the Lions and New Zealand which dates back to our
very first tour in 1888. That first tour helped establish the template for the
Lions and it is exciting that 2017 will see the Lions return to New Zealand
as part of the next chapter in this great story.

“The Lions 2017 Series will see the best of the best from our four great
rugby nations unite as one to play ten matches in New Zealand, a series that
will once again be the highlight of the 2017 global sporting calendar.

“It is with great anticipation that we look forward to renewing our rivalries
and more importantly our unique and great friendship with New Zealand.”

The Series opens with a game against a Provincial Union XV side in Whangarei
and features four midweek matches.

Eden Park, Auckland will host two Tests (24 June and 8 July), while Westpac
Stadium, Wellington will be the venue for the other Test on 1 July.

Matches against New Zealand’s Super Rugby sides – the Blues, Crusaders,
Highlanders, Chiefs and Hurricanes – and a fixture against the Maori All Blacks
complete the Series schedule.

The Lions match against the Maori All Blacks, which will be played at Rotorua
International Stadium on 17 June, reignites a rivalry which has produced classic
encounters over the past two tours with a narrow victory for the visitors in
1993 followed by a historic 19-13 win for the Maori All Blacks in 2005
– their first ever over the Lions.

The tour is the twelfth by a combined British Isles side to New Zealand. The
first was in 1888 and the most recent 10 years ago.

During that time, New Zealand has won 27 Tests to the Lions’ 6, including
a memorable 3-0 series victory in 2005.

The Lions only previous series victory in New Zealand was achieved in 1971
when a side coached by Welshman Carwyn James prevailed 2-1, with the final Test
in Auckland drawn.

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