The impression has been made, endorsed and repeated that the success of this British & Irish Lions tour hinges on the results of the test series.

Win that and all other defeats and decisions can be justified - accepted as the eggs that had to be broken to make the omelette.

And yet, here we are six days from that first clash with the All Blacks and it feels like events in Hamilton, where the Chiefs take on the Lions, could have an equally significant bearing on what sort of legacy this tour will leave.

The impact could go much deeper than that - this week could end up being remembered as the point when rugby folk from both hemispheres fell out of love with the Lions.


This could be the juncture when there is a sad awakening to the increasingly brutal truth that the Lions survive on their ability to conjure among Generation X and all those older, feelings of romanticism and nostalgia that they can no longer sustain in the modern world.

The theory of the Lions is wonderful. The practicality not so much and even if the Lions should win the test series, there would still have to be doubts about whether they can legitimately command a place in the rugby calendar.

Doubts because they are steadily morphing into being just another Northern Hemisphere visitor to these shores.

They are slowly ditching the things that made them different - tied them to history, tradition and justified their existence.

The nostalgia ticket is what they should be running on and was indeed their supposed intention before coming to New Zealand.

This tour was going to be about embracing hinterland communities, throwing the kitchen sink at the midweek games and keeping the door open to test selection until the last possible minute.

All that is starting to feel like a false promise and the Lions could just as easily have come with 30 players at the start of last week, played the New Zealand Maori as a warm up and then got into the tests.

It's difficult to believe in the wake of the decision to call up six extra players over the weekend that the Lions are being respectful to their own rich and wonderful legacy.

They are being a little disrespectful to the spirit of the tour - that expectation sits heavily with the Lions wherever they go. They must accept that whoever they play, for the blokes in the opposition changing room, it will be one of the biggest nights of their lives.

The Chiefs may not feel that now the Lions have loaded the bench in Hamilton with five of the players they called up over the weekend.

The midweek games are supposed to be connected to the overall goal of winning the test series - not isolated contests for the visitors to endure simply to fulfil the obligations demanded by their hosts.

But sadly it now seems like the Lions are going through the motions in regards to their remaining games against the Chiefs and Hurricanes.

If the Lions want to be judged solely on what happens against the All Blacks, then why not just start and end there instead of asking everyone to buy into a longer tour?

And the answer is that without the midweek games, without the nostalgia such events induce, the Lions don't have anything different to offer. They are just another high performance team coming to New Zealand for a test series.

Except they are a scratch side being thrown together and in truth, if it was just about the tests then New Zealanders would rather England were here.