Lions to face Barbarians in Hong Kong
October 18, 2010
Newly-appointed Lions tour manager Andy Irvine and committee chairman Gerald Davies pose at Trafalgar Square in London © Getty Images
The British & Irish Lions will break new ground on their 2013 tour of Australia by taking on the Barbarians in Hong Kong.
The tourists will face the famous invitational side for the first time since 1977 in a curtain-raiser for their Test series with the Wallabies, creating another chapter in their history with their first game in the region.
Legendary Scotland fullback Andy Irvine has been confirmed as the manager of the tour - with former Wales wing Gerald Davies named as Lions chairman.
Irvine, 59, won 51 caps for Scotland in a glittering career, touring with the Lions on three occasions following his bow on their famous 1974 trip to South Africa. In total he played 41 games for them, including nine Tests, and scored 19 tries.
He will now take on the key task of identifying the coach to lead the tourists against the Wallabies, who triumphed 2-1 in the Test series on their last meeting in 2001, alongside Davies, who managed the 2009 tour to South Africa.
"Last year's tour was a phenomenal showcase for rugby, and I look forward to upholding the best of Lions traditions when we travel to the home of the Wallabies for what will be a fantastic experience," Irvine said. "In the meantime, I can't wait to get my teeth into the planning and logistics that will be so crucial to the success of the tour over the next two-and-a-half years."
The tourists have also renewed their sponsorship deal with HSBC until the end of the tour to Australia and the bank will continue as the Lions' principle partner and shirt sponsor, extending the agreement that was first signed in 2007.
"To be able to confirm today that the Lions will break new ground with their first ever fixture in Hong Kong will ensure the tour to Australia is even more special," Lions chief executive John Feehan said.
"I'd also like to congratulate Andy and Gerald on their appointments. The Lions will benefit hugely from having two highly regarded and respected former Lions at the helm for the tour to Australia."
Hong Kong has a strong rugby heritage thanks to the annual Hong Kong Sevens and has moved up to hosting Test matches in recent seasons thanks to the policy of taking Bledisloe Cup Tests to Asia - with the All Blacks and Wallabies set to face off on October 30 at Hong Kong Stadium. The fixture was first staged at the ground in 2008 although this year's edition was initially plagued by poor ticket sales.
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