Lions on the menu as fans set for feast of rugby in 2016 and 2017

Getty Images     10 Jul 2015     Getty Images

Eight cities throughout New Zealand have been confirmed to host the matches following an open tender process.

British & Irish Lions kick off in Whangarei

New Zealand Rugby and British & 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 in early June and concluding in mid-July. 

New Zealand Rugby is working with the British & Irish Lions to confirm final scheduling.

- Venues and opposition for British & Irish Lions 10 match series announced

- Nine venues to host 20 matches over two years

- Wales confirmed for three Test Steinlager Series in 2016

“The British & 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 our Investec 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 Steinlager Series against Wales will go on sale early next year.”

John Feehan, Chief Executive of the British & 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 NZ 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.

Full 2016/2017 international fixture list:

2016 Steinlager Series

11 June 2016 v Wales, Eden Park, Auckland
18 June 2016 v Wales, Westpac Stadium, Wellington
25 June 2016 v Wales, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin

2016 Investec Rugby Championship

27 August 2016 v Australia, Westpac Stadium, Wellington
10 September 2016 v Argentina, Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
17 September 2016 v South Africa, AMI Stadium, Christchurch

2016 3rd Bledisloe Cup Test

22 October 2016 v Australia, Eden Park, Auckland

2017 British & Irish Lions Series

3 June 2017 v Provincial Union Team, Toll Stadium, Whangarei
7 June 2017 v Blues, Eden Park, Auckland
10 June 2017 v Crusaders, AMI Stadium, Christchurch
13 June 2017 v Highlanders, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
17 June 2017 v Maori All Blacks, Rotorua International Stadium, Rotorua
20 June 2017 v Chiefs, Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
24 June 2017 v All Blacks, Eden Park, Auckland
27 June 2017 v Hurricanes, Westpac Stadium, Wellington
1 July 2017 v All Blacks, Westpac Stadium, Wellington
8 July 2017 v All Blacks, Eden Park, Auckland

2017 Investec Rugby Championship

26 August 2017 v Australia, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
9 September 2017 v Argentina, Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth
16 September 2017 v South Africa, QBE Stadium, Auckland

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

While the exact schedule of dates and order of matches is still to be confirmed, the Series will kick off with a game against a Provincial Union XV side in Whangarei and feature four midweek matches.

Eden Park, Auckland will host two Tests, while Westpac Stadium, Wellington will be the venue for the other.

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, 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.

Full details on securing tickets is expected to be unveiled in November with international tickets and travel packages only available through All Black Tours and Lions Rugby Travel.

All Blacks welcome Wales in 2016

In 2016, the All Blacks will play Wales as part of the Steinlager Series at Eden Park Auckland, Westpac Stadium Wellington and Forsyth Barr Stadium Dunedin. Waikato Stadium Hamilton will host Argentina and South Africa will play at AMI Stadium Christchurch.

Australia will take on the All Blacks in Wellington in the Investec Rugby Championship before returning for the third Bledisloe Cup Test in Auckland later in the October.

The 2017 Investec Rugby Championship will feature Tests at Yarrow Stadium New Plymouth against Argentina, at QBE Stadium, Auckland against South Africa and Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium will host the Bledisloe Cup clash against Australia.