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Thread: Lions '09 dates leaked

  1. #1
    Legend Contributor Thequeerone's Avatar
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    Apr 2006

    Lions '09 dates leaked

    Lions '09 dates leaked

    Article Published: Monday 19 November 2007
    Editor: Sports Digital Media

    The 2009 Lions tour to South Africa looks like it's going to be quite a tough schedule for the British & Irish Lions. Playing rugby in South Africa is one thing but playing rugby on the highveld as a tourist is a very different scenario.

    British & Irish Lions bosses were said to be wanting to play rugby matches at proper rugby venues after it was thought that South Africa would want to test some of their newly built 2010 World cup stadiums for the tour.

    The Sunday Times has put paid to the idea of playing in football stadiums though by publishing what they say is the much awaited 2009 British & Irish Lions itinerary.

    The match schedule looks official because it was known ahead of time that it would be a 10-match tour with seven non test matches and the whole tour spread over six weeks. John Feehan, the Lions chief executive, refused to be drawn on the itinerary. “I have no comment – the itinerary will be published in due course,” he said to the Sunday Times.

    Feehan confirmed, however, that interest in the 2009 tour from supporters was unprecedented. “All the indications are that this will be the biggest Lions tour of all. The interest is phenomenal and we estimate that there could be upwards of 50,000 fans making the trip.”

    The British & Irish Lions last toured South Africa in 1997 and this schedule looks a lot different because in 1997 the Lions benefited from a schedule that saw them play the first two Tests at sea level. By the time they went to altitude at Ellis Park for the third Test the series had already been won.

    In 2009 the Lions will be up against it as they are scheduled to play four games in succession at altitude at the start of the tour, kicking off against an invitation Highveld XV in Rustenburg. The Rustenburg match will be a scorcher even if it is in May. The stadium is not far from South Africa's Sun City and it is always hot up there.

    The next match is against the Golden Lions in Johannesburg at Ellis Park which is the venue for the final test just over a month later. Ellis Park is where in 1997 John Bentley received the ball from Neil Jenkins 70 yards from the try line and sprinted, swerved and dodged his way past seven defenders to score one of the great British & Irish Lions tries.

    The Golden Lions or the Xerox Lions as they have just been renamed, finished second in this years Currie Cup.

    After the Currie Cup runners up, it gets hotter for the Lions as they will face the Free State Cheetahs who are the current Currie Cup holders. This year's result wasn't a flash in the pan either because they shared the trophy last year with the Blue Bulls. This match takes place in Bloemfontein before going back up to the real highveld for a midweek clash with the the Blue Bulls in Pretoria. The Bulls won the Super 14 this year.

    The tour gets a little easier and cooler in temperature at this point as the Lions fly down to the Cape to play Western Province who will probably be largely made up of Stormers players from the Super 14. After that it's over to Port Elizabeth against a Coastal 15. This should be the easiest match of the tour and it comes just ahead of the first Test in Pretoria (Highveld again).

    What's a little odd is that slotted in between the first and second tests is a quick flight back down to the coast where they play the Junior Springboks in Cape Town.

    After the Junior Springboks it's off to the humidity of Durban for the second test. After Durban the British & Irish Lions finish off in the still impressive Ellis Park.

    All in all a pretty tough tour.

    There is however little doubt that this tour will be poorly supported as 35 000 went all the way down to New Zealand and getting to South Africa is a lot cheaper and a lot more pleasant given that the journey there is an overnight flight. The beer is cheap and goes down well so we could see as many as 50 000 tourists in South Africa as John Feehan predicts.

    At this stage the coaching structure is not known. Ireland's Eddie O'Sullivan was the favourite before the world cup but with Ireland's dismal world cup performance in 2007 his shares must have taken a knock. A decision on who will coach the 2009 British & Irish Lions is expected after thee 2008 Six Nations.

    Likely 2009 British & Irish Lions itinerary

    May 30: Highveld XV, Rustenburg
    Jun 3: Golden Lions, Johannesburg
    Jun 6: Free State Cheetahs, Bloemfontein
    Jun 10: Blue Bulls, Pretoria
    Jun 13: Western Province, Cape Town
    Jun 17: Coastal XV, Port Elizabeth
    Jun 20: First Test, Pretoria
    Jun 23: Junior Springboks, Cape Town
    Jun 27: Second Test, Durban
    Jul 4: Third Test, Johannesburg

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  2. #2
    Veteran zimeric's Avatar
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    Aug 2007
    interesting... a fair while away still so its hard to predict outcomes.. will be far more interested in matchups closer to the 2009 season though.

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  3. #3
    Champion Contributor jazza93's Avatar
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    Feb 2007
    the beach
    why will they play all those other teams, or will it be a 2nd 15 for the lions

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