The Red Army is on a crusade in Christchurch as Lions fans warm up for tonight's crunch tour match.

Supporters of the British and Irish Lions have spent a classic Canterbury winter day - bright, sunny and fresh - wandering the quake-recovering Garden City ahead of the game against the unbeaten Super Rugby side, Crusaders.

Punting on the Avon River or pints and cider beside the Avon, they are in good spirits, decked out in red and white jerseys and scarves, and looking forward to a tight game.

A British Army rugby team were in fine voice in Cathedral Square this afternoon.


The representative side made up from the Royal Corps of Signals coincided their tour along with the Lions "almost by accident", Lieutenant Colonel Jason Kennedy said.

"The original concept was for a fancy dress tour - front rowers as Orcs, scrumhalves as Hobbits, backs as elves ... but here we are in our blazers," he said.

They have four scheduled matches on their tour, starting with a big game against 2/1 Infantry Battalion at Burnham camp outside Christchurch on Wednesday.

The squad is keen for some serious rugby, Kennedy said, but after watching Rolleston under-11s this morning, they are fearing the worst.

"They were rather good ..." he said.

The military team belted out a shaky version of Hey Jude in the shadow of the earthquake-crippled ChristChurch Cathedral.

English trio Chris Young, 33, younger brother James, 29, and 29-year-old Herbie Bankes were sliding in some warm-up pints at Pegasus Arms restaurant and bar this afternoon.

They were hopeful of some sightseeing today too.


"We might go see the container mall or punting on the Avon," said Bankes.

"But if you come back in a few hours, we'll probably still be there."

Kilted Glaswegian doctor Sen Dhayalan, 34, now lives in Christchurch but follows tennis star Andy Murray and Scottish sports teams all over the world.

He's been looking forward to the Lions tour for years.

"We missed out on games in Christchurch during the 2011 Rugby World Cup, and although the 2015 Cricket World Cup was fun, this is different level," he said.

He's going to tonight's match before going on to Dunedin and then the three tests.

He booked his hostels over a year ago.

The kilt comes out for black tie dos, weddings, and sport, Dhayalan says.

Last night, the city was heaving with pre-match excitement.

The chat was on whether the Lions can get their tour back on track - but also the cost of craft beers.

"It'll be mental after the game tonight, everybody will be buzzing," Dhayalan said.

By 5pm there was a steady stream of Lions supporters strolling west along Lincoln Rd, bar hopping their way to AMI Stadium.