The British and Irish Lions have asked their security team to sweep their hotel rooms for listening devices in a bid to eradicate the risk of espionage ahead of the first Test against New Zealand on Saturday, The Talk of Rugby can reveal.

The regular searches of the Lions team rooms for any signs of bugging devices are being carried out by a four-man team from the security firm Veritas, who worked with the Lions on the 2009 and 2013 tours of South Africa and Australia.

"We have a security team who are very experienced in this," said John Feehan, the Lions chief executive.

"They are experts in electronic surveillance to ensure that we are not being looked at or listened to.


"The team room for example is swept regularly and no-one is allowed in there unless they are part of the squad and if there is any suspicion at all they will do another sweep of the room.

"Nothing is perfect in this life and if someone is determined enough they probably will get something but all we can do is try to ensure that that they don't. We have a (security) team in there and they are good at doing their job."

There is no suggestion that the All Blacks would be involved in such underhand tactics.

The Lions however are wise not to want to take any chances after the row that erupted between New Zealand and Australian Rugby Unions in August last year when a listening device was located in a room at a hotel the All Blacks were staying at in Sydney last year ahead of their Bledisloe Cup match.

Details of the bug emerged on the day of the match in the New Zealand Herald, causing anger in the Australian camp that they might have been involved. A subsequent police investigation led to Adrian Gard, 51, one of the All Blacks' security guards, being charged with one count of false misrepresentation resulting in a police investigation in February.

Accusations of spying between international teams is as old as the hills. At the 2015 World Cup England were wrongly accused of spying on pool rivals Australia, while the 2005 Lions squad on their tour of New Zealand were adamant that their line-out codes had been cracked going into the first Test and they changed their codes at the last minute to disastrous consequences.

Even Carwyn James, who coached the Lions on their successful tour of New Zealand in 1971, is thought to have attempted to protect his players from prying eyes by inventing fake moves. When asked by one of his own players why there were practising an overly-complicated move, James is reported to have said, pointing to the touchline, "Those New Zealanders don't know that, do they?"