The British and Irish Lions will play the Wallabies in three Tests on their nine-match tour of Australia in 2013, the Australian Rugby Union said on Monday.
The Lions, featuring the best players from England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland, will take on Australia in Brisbane on June 22, Melbourne on June 29 and Sydney on July 6.
The Lions visit Australia once every 12 years with the Wallabies winning the last series Down Under in 2001 by two Tests to one.
On the 2013 Tour, the Lions will play in six Australian cities, kicking off against Super 15 franchise Western Force in Perth on June 5.
The Lions will also take on Australia’s other four Super 15 teams — Queensland Reds in Brisbane on June 8, the New South Wales Waratahs in Sydney on June 15, ACT Brumbies in Canberra on June 18 and the Melbourne Rebels in Melbourne on June 25.
‘Significant economic benefit’
There will also be a match against a combined NSW-Queensland Country line-up in Newcastle on June 12.
“The Lions tour [Australia] in 2001 was an extraordinary event and one which provided significant economic benefit to those cities which hosted major matches,” ARU managing director John O’Neill said.
“More than 8 000 Lions supporters came to Australia from the UK and Ireland on official tour packages and many more thousands made their own way here.
“Four years ago in South Africa there were said to be 40 000 Lions fans that made the trek there to support their team.
“A Lions Tour is a massive occasion. Behind the Rugby World Cup it is the most engaging, high-profile and popular event our game can showcase.”
Before arriving in Australia, the Lions will play a match in Hong Kong against the Barbarians on June 1.
Lions tour manager Andy Irvine said the announcement of the 2013 tour schedule marked a milestone in the team’s history.
“Since 1888 when the Lions embarked on their first ever tour, which happened to be Australia, the famous red shirt has become an aspirational symbol of achievement for players in Britain and Ireland,” he said.
“The Lions receive numerous requests to play matches around the world outside of the traditional tour destinations of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
“The last Lions tour to Australia in 2001 heralded the dawn of ‘The Red Army’ with tens of thousands of English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh tourists and ex-pats wearing the red jersey in support of the Lions.
“We look forward to another challenging tour to one of the world’s most beautiful countries.” — AFP