If you are just getting into rugby you may have heard about the Lions rugby team. But who exactly are they? And who do they play against? It is time to break down all things Lions!
What is the Lions rugby team?
The Lions rugby team is made up of the best players from England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The team is selected every 4 years and they tour against New Zealand, South Africa or Australia, where they compete in a best of 3 series.
The Lions is essentially a super team. Every 4 years the Lions coach gets to pick any rugby players from England, Scotland, Wales or Ireland. They all come together to form a touring side who then head off and play 3 match test series against either New Zealand, South Africa, or Australia.
It is a great honor to be selected and play for the Lions because you already have to be a world class rugby player to play for England, Scotland, Wales or Ireland but to play for the Lions you need to be something special.
How Good Is The British And Irish Lions Rugby Team?
The Lions rugby team is made up of the best players in the Northern Hemisphere however they only have a winning percentage of 42.28%. This is because nearly all their have been against New Zealand, South African and Australia.
The Lions winning percentage of just 42.28% is very deceiving despite being so slow the team is still extremely good. The reason it is under 50% is because the Lions are a touring side, always playing away and nearly all their matches have been played against Australia, South and New Zealand.
The Lions have managed to a secure an impressive win percentage of 73.91% against Australia after winning 17 games and only 6. However, they have not had much luck against New Zealand winning just 7 of 41 games for a miserable win percentage of just 17%. Things haven’t gone much better against South Africa where the Lions have won 17 of 46 games and achieved a win percentage of 37%.
The away from disadvantage, class of their competition and the fact that the Lions have not had much time playing with each other has definitely negatively affected their results.
What National Anthem Do The Lions Sing?
The Lions do not have a national anthem but currently use four different songs to represent the 4 unique nations that make up the team. England – Jerusalem, Scotland – Highland Cathedral, Ireland – Fields Of Athenry and Wales – Calon Lan.
The Lions originally used the anthem “God Save The Queen”. However, this was dropped when Ireland claimed independence.
In 2005 Neil Myers wrote an anthem specifically for the Lions which was called “Power Of Four”. The Anthem was used throughout the 2005 tour of New Zealand. However, the anthem was universally panned by spectators, players and the media. Everyone claimed it lacked passion and nobody would sing it. After the disaster of “Power Of Four” the anthem was dropped and there has not been a replacement.
Currently, the Lions use a variety of songs which each represent the nations the players hail from. William Blake’s legendary poem Jerusalem characterizes England, while you can’t get anymore Irish than the Fields Of Athenry which is set during the Famine. Highland Cathedral taps into the history of Scottish clans and finally the Welsh go mad when they hear Calon Lan which is all about being pure of heart and avoiding the temptations of luxury.
Who Do The British And Irish Lions Play?
The British and Irish Lions play New Zealand, South Africa or Australia. They always play away and compete every 4 years against one of the aforementioned sides in a best of 3 test series. They rotate opponents each tour.
Currently, the Lions play against New Zealand, South Africa and Australia. Every 4 years they select on of these nations and compete against them in a 3 match test series. They use a rotational system, for example in 2013 they played Australia, 2017 New Zealand, 2021 South Africa and in 2025 they will again play Australia.
The Lions prior to the start of the test series will often play warm up matches against National A sides, Super Rugby teams or even provincial teams.
In the past the Lions have played warm up matches against a range of different nations including Namibia, Rhodesia, Sri Lanka and Fiji. However, in modern times they only play against New Zealand, South Africa and Australia. Except in 2005 where they snuck in a home game against Argentina, which they drew in front of a sell out crowd in Wales.
When Did British Lions Become British and Irish Lions?
The British Lions officially changed their name to the British and Irish Lions in 2001 during their tour of Australia. Despite Ireland gaining independence in the early 20th century the team still used the name British Lions until 2001.
The British and Irish Lions is a team that is selected every 4 years and is made up of the best players from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The side tours Australia, New Zealand or South Africa where they compete in a best of 3 test series. The Lions have achieved great success against Australia but have struggled against New Zealand and South Africa.