Monday, June 24, 2024

Govt backs historic UK women’s rugby tour to NZ

The inaugural Women’s British and Irish Lions Tour is set to receive government funding to support matches being played in New Zealand in 2027.

The Government has earmarked $3.9 million from the Major Events Fund to support the history-making series.

“We’ve seen from the recent women’s world cups that Kiwis love a chance to see world-class teams competing up close in our own back yard,” said Sport and Recreation Minister, Chris Bishop.

“This is going to be a historic moment for rugby, and I can’t wait to see the very first women’s Lions team take on our world champion Black Ferns. This tour is going to be epic.”

Economic Development Minister, Melissa Lee (pictured at the funding announcement) said the event will help New Zealand to further increase the value and visibility of women’s sport and create new sporting heroes and role models for younger generations.

“I am delighted to confirm government support for the inaugural Women’s British and Irish Lions tour,” she said.

“The action on the field is set to be matched by positive economic benefits as we look forward to seeing kiwis pack stadiums and welcoming the legion of fans that will come to New Zealand for this landmark tour.”

The tour will be held in September 2027 and include three Test matches against the six-time world champion, Black Ferns.

The Lions will also play pre-Test fixtures, although a full schedule is yet to be finalised.

Lions chair and former Wales winger, Ieuan Evans told the BBC the move was a “key development for women’s rugby and women’s sport in general”.

Ben Calveley, chief executive officer of the Lions, said: “Supporting the growth of the women’s game is a key strategic priority for the British & Irish Lions as it is for each of our unions.

“Significant effort has gone into exploring the concept of a Lions Women’s Tour and great credit needs to go to the members of our steering committee, our board, and our staff.

“In particular, I want to recognise the collaboration of our four unions and thank them for their continued support and the level of commitment they have shown throughout this journey.”

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