For players of the four nations that comprise the Lions being selected for a tour is seen as a major achievement in one's career. For Lions fans it can be a bucket-list trip and coverage of games shows many blocks of these fans at every match.

But for the host country it is once every 12 years that it happens, a player will need a long international career to appear twice and may not ever appear. As the Lions are a best-15 team from these nations are these matches actually seen as bigger than a individual touring nation? What is in it for host's teams and players for the tour matches and Test series?

  • Actually, I believe George Smith nearly played in two series, being chosen for the Aussies in 2001 and still playing local rugga for Queensland in 2013. Also, Dwayne Vermeulen played for the SA A team in 2009 and also played the first test in 2021. Also Morne Steyn scored the winning penalty in 2009 and 2021.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 11:44

1 Answer 1


In the professional era, there have been 7 lions tours. Only one of those tours has not comprised of a team that was not the reigning World Champion (or as it was in 2005 a part of the Lions side). So quite literally for a successful World Cup side to follow up that win with a successful Lions two years later means that you are beyond any doubt the best in the world.

In the 2005 Lions tour of New Zealand that tour was considered revenge for the English beating the All Blacks in 2003. The All Black came of a mediocre 2004 just to reinforce that they were still the best.

The 2001 Lions tour of Australia was John Eales's swan song and was also the first time the Australians had beaten the B&I Lions.

The 2009 Lions tour of South Africa was also extremely important as it was a long-awaited chance at retribution for the disgraceful performance that the Springboks showed in the 1997 tour.

The 2017 tour was also a landmark event as it was only the third time in the professional era that any team from Europe could beat the New Zealand All Blacks in their own backyard. This was also only the second Lions tour to end in a draw, the other one being the 1955 tour of South Africa

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