The 2017 British and Irish Lions tour fixtures have been announced and the winner is Eden Park which will host three games, including the first and third tests. The losers are the provinces who with the exception of Northland, all miss out, being replaced by games against all of the Super Rugby teams instead. This will mean more competitive matches, but at the same time, it will be interesting to see if Super Rugby teams rest their players for these fixtures.
I love a fairytale, but realistically, ITM Cup teams would struggle against the British and Irish Lions. I think the Super Rugby franchises at full strength would have more of a chance of winning, although it seems crazy that Auckland gets three games, while provinces like Southland, Tasman and Taranaki who traditionally often play the British and Irish Lions and get all of the tourism associated with their fans, will miss out this time, but Eden Park is the biggest ground in the country, so it gets the games.
South Island and provincial fans will feel snubbed. There is no test match in the South Island, although the smaller stadiums and less infrastructure like accommodation etc could be the reason for this, although Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin is the best stadium in the country and the only indoor stadium as well as being home of the Super Rugby champions. The tour will involve less travel than in 2005 too with provincial unions like Southland which usually plays the British and Irish Lions missing out to Super Rugby franchises in the main centres. Thoughts?
Dunedin does host Wales next year and the Wallabies and a Highlanders vs the Lions game in 2017, so it isn't all lost.
What do you think of the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour fixtures?
2017 British and Irish Lions tour fixtures:
3 June - Provincial union team (Toll Stadium, Whangarei)
7 June - Blues (Eden Park, Auckland)
10 June - Crusaders (AMI Stadium, Christchurch)
13 June - Highlanders (Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin)
17 June - Maori (International Stadium, Rotorua)
20 June - Chiefs (Waikato Stadium, Hamilton)
24 June - New Zealand (First Test, Eden Park, Auckland)
27 June - Hurricanes (Westpac Stadium, Wellington)
1 July - New Zealand (Second Test, Westpac Stadium, Wellington)
8 July - New Zealand (Third Test, Eden Park, Auckland).