There is so much rugby available to watch nowadays.

We have numerous international tournaments; the 6 Nations, the Rugby Championship, mid-year tours, year-end tours, to name but a few. But where are the tours of old, travelling to another country for six weeks, playing numerous teams across all levels of rugby and then three Test matches?

This last Lions series was wonderful. It took rugby to all corners of New Zealand. Even as an outsider it was wonderful, the ups and downs, the press, the coaches. It was intense and entertaining and the rugby on the field was excellent.

Tours bring out the supporters who feel they can see more of the country. ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
Tours bring out the supporters who feel they can see more of the country.
©INPHO/Billy Stickland

South Africa hosted the French this year. Not only were there three excellent test matches, the French team held clinics with kids around the country. They spread the game, potentially encouraged more to join. Not to mention the Barbarian games. It was genuinely wonderful.

Imagine a Northern Hemisphere tour. Say South Africa travels to Ireland, where the South Africans play the four Pro 14 teams. Throw in a Barbarian side, a handful of clinics around the country. And then three bruising Test matches.

This seems so much more constructive than playing four Test matches with different countries in four weeks. All international teams play differently, and you only get to fully understand and appreciate your opposition when you play them at multiple levels.

I am not suggesting drastic changes to the international calendar but maybe mixing up the mid and end of year tours. I am also not suggesting this happens every year. Possibly a couple of times between World Cups.

England and New Zealand. A winner takes all?

Next year the All Blacks play England and I am expecting a cracker of a game, but it is a winner takes all. I would prefer a tour of England with multiple games and multiple Tests. Only then would we truly know who deserves the top spot. All teams have a bad day but the chances of having a bad day for all three Tests is remote.

One of the last great tours for NZ was led by Buck Shelford in 1989. Still a vivid memory. Photo: Bruce Jarvis/PHOTOSPORT
One of the last great tours for NZ was led by Buck Shelford in 1989. Still a vivid memory.
Photo: Bruce Jarvis/PHOTOSPORT

I don’t think it can be measured how amazing it is to see international heroes at smaller venues around the country. I try imaging what it would be like for my 10-year-old self to meet someone like Brodie Retallick at a rugby clinic during a tour.

Let’s look at bringing back the tours of old. What do you think?

Photos: www.photosport.nz

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Author: Donovan Maidens

I grew up in Durban , South Africa (Shark Country) my family has a long tradition with Rugby at all levels (My Grandfather Dr Jack Sweidan was the Springboks team Dr for 30 years). As a teenager I rebelled against the family and became a Bull’s supporter so I am the only blue jersey in a sea of black at family events.
My dream growing up was to watch the Springbok’s play the All Black at the “House of Pain” this sadly never happened. Now it is to watch Rugby at all the great stadiums around the world.
My beautiful wife Jo-anne and I live in Kleinmond a small fishing village in the Western Cape and are both web developers.

3 COMMENTS

    • That is a fantastic story Leon. Seeing the 1974 Lions in action must have been incredible. My dad still talks about the 1971 and 1977 teams to NZ with huge respect. And you might be right, that picture could very well be from that game. Cheers

  1. Hi Steven, I don’t know if your aware there was a report from Paul Rees in Sundays Guardian in the UK that the next two lions tours will only consist of eight games, the reason given is that there are not enough teams in Australia & SA to give the British & Irish Lions ten competitive matches. They have not however ruled out a ten game tour to New Zealand in 2029. Cheers
    Rob

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