Schedule set for 2013 Lions tour of Australia
Updated: November 28, 2011, 17:08
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MELBOURNE, Australia(AP) The British and Irish Lions will play tests against Australia in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney in 2013.
The Lions kick off their six-week tour with a match against the Barbarians in Hong Kong on June 1 before heading to Australia for the first time since their unsuccessful 2001 visit.
The three test matches will be played in Brisbane on June 22, Melbourne on June 29 and Sydney on July 6. The Lions won the opening match at Brisbane in 2001 but went down narrowly in the following to tests to give Australia its first series win over the touring British and Irish squad.
"The Lions tour here in 2001 was an extraordinary event and one which provided significant economic benefit to those cities which hosted major matches,'' Australian Rugby Union chief executive John O'Neill said.
"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,'' O'Neill said. "It is not just about the three tests. It is about the hype and momentum a tour of six weeks develops.''
The itinerary released Monday involved nine matches in Australia including meetings with all five of the country's Super Rugby franchises.
The Lions play the Western Force in Perth on June 5, Super 15 champion Queensland Reds in Brisbane on June 8, a combined New South Wales and Queensland country side at Newcastle on June 12, the NSW Waratahs at Sydney on June 15, the ACT Brumbies at Canberra on June 18 and the Melbourne Rebels on June 25.
"The last two series between the Wallabies and the British and Irish Lions have been memorable,'' British and Irish Lions Chairman Gerald Davies said. "In 1989 and 2001, both three-test series went down to the last match. Of course, the Lions were victorious in the series in 1989 but the Wallabies had their revenge in 2001. Graham Henry, who guided New Zealand to the World Cup title last month, was in charge of the 2001 Lions squad in Australia.
"I am sure that the 2013 series will be just as competitive, with the tour reigniting the fierce but respectful rivalry that exists between the two sides.''