It will be worth 300-400M AUD to the Australian economy and will put rugby at the top of the sporting agenda for the month of June in 2013.
No wonder the Aussies can’t wait for the Lions tour next year. With 12 months to go to the first Test against the Wallabies at Suncorp Stadium Brisbane, Lions tour manager Andy Irvine attended an official function at the Parliament House, Sydney, with ARU managing director and CEO John O’Neill.
The Lions will play nine games in Australia after opening their tour with a game against the Barbarians in Hong Kong on Saturday, June 1. The three Tests against the Wallabies are on June 22 in Brisbane, June 29 in Melbourne and July 6 in Sydney.
“The British and Irish Lions tour to Australia next year will be massive. Behind the Rugby World Cup, there is no bigger event in international Rugby,” said O’Neill.
“The Lions are steeped in history and I’m sure Sydney fans will relish the chance to see them. It was in Sydney where the 2001 tour was decided.
“After the Lions won the first Test and the Wallabies the second, it came down to the final match of the tour at Homebush – and what a titanic contest it was. The Wallabies won that night and added another triumph to what was already a Golden Era for the game in this country.
“With that series win, the Wallabies had possession of the Rugby World Cup, the Bledisloe Cup and the Tom Richards Trophy for beating the Lions.”
The Lions won the 1989 series 2-1 and the Wallabies hit back to take the 2001 campaign by a similar margin. The 2013 series will be a decider in recent rugby history.
It will be the 125th anniversary of the inaugural Lions tour in 1888, when the tourists played in both New Zealand and Australia, and the Wallabies' first Test match was against the Lions in 1899.
“Looking back on 2001, it was a wonderful tour. The Lions brought with them their Sea of Red, and it was a supporter base of the like we have never seen in this country,” added O’Neill.
“Lions supporters were extremely vocal – singing and chanting throughout the Tests – and their passion was infectious. The first Test at the Gabba in Brisbane was phenomenal – and red was the dominant colour in the grandstands.
“ARU moved quickly to ensure that didn’t happen again for the remainder of the Test series. We started a ‘Be Bold Wear Gold’ campaign and introduced it at the second Test in Melbourne.
“It was the first time we had made a conscious attempt to have Australian crowds show their true colours during a game, and the fans responded magnificently. That tour was unforgettable, the crowd in Sydney also turned out in gold en masse, and the Wallabies won the series by two Tests to one.
“We expect the 2013 Tour to be even bigger and better.”