Lions to revive friendly rugby tradition on New Zealand tour

The Lions could be joining the likes of All Blacks Codie Taylor and Joe Moody in having a post-match beer. Photo / Photosport
The Lions could be joining the likes of All Blacks Codie Taylor and Joe Moody in having a post-match beer. Photo / Photosport

They're coming to beat us - but the Lions want to turn the clock back and revive the old cherished rugby tradition of having a beer with their opposition after each match on the tour of New Zealand.

Following a long-winded squad announcement in London on Wednesday night New Zealand time, squad officials revealed that while they are driven by the challenge of becoming the first Lions team to defeat the All Blacks since 1971, they want to make sure some of rugby's old traditions are retained during the six-week tour.

The result is an offer to throw back to the old days of swapping a beer in the changing rooms after a game.

Officials say the Lions intend to make the offer for informal post-match get-togethers to their provincial opponents of the New Zealand Barbarians and Maori teams and the five Kiwi Super Rugby franchises as well as the All Blacks.

"We feel it is important and brings something to the surface that every rugby player will recognise as part of the community game," said John Spencer, the Lions manager. "It will be especially relevant for the provincial matches because a lot of players will be putting off their retirements to play against the Lions.

"You can't forget the roots of where these players came from, because every single player in the Lions will have started in a small club's junior section, so we have to remember the community game and form friendships.

"I want this tour to primarily be remembered as a winning tour but also as a team that appreciated the varying cultures in New Zealand and engaged with the local community.

"I would hope it is a tour that encourages young people both here and abroad to play rugby."

The All Blacks are also likely to take up the Lions' offer. Coach Steve Hansen is a fan of the tradition which New Zealand has made efforts to keep alive after test matches against old foes, South Africa's Springboks.

But the All Blacks don't extend the post-match get-togethers to all opposition teams. For example, there is ill feeling currently between the All Blacks and Wallabies with the latter turning down previous invitations to have a post-match drink with the men in black.

NZ Barbarian Rugby Club president and former All Black Ron Williams liked the idea as the Barbarians are the first team to face the Lions on June 3 in Whangarei.

"We think it is tremendous that they are looking to revive some of the great traditions of our game. We haven't heard anything official yet from the Lions, but the Barbarians would gladly accept any offer for a drink in the changing rooms after our tour opener in Whangarei."

- NZ Herald

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