The clock is ticking and Wednesday this week marked 200 days to go to one of the biggest non-Test matches on next year’s British & Irish Lions tour to Australia, against the NSW Waratahs.
The first game played by the Lions on Aussie soil was against New South Wales at the Association Cricket Ground on 2 June, 1888. The Lions, led by England international Robert Seddon, won 18-2 with six tries in all, including two from Walter Bumby.
It cost one shilling to get into the ground and two shillings and sixpence extra to sit in the stand. There was a crowd of up to 18,000 at the game, including the Governor of New South Wales, Lord Carrington.
That was the first of three wins over NSW on that tour and, in total, Seddon’s side played seven matches in Sydney, winning five and drawing two – the two draws coming against Past and Present Schools XVs.
The Lions were big winners in Sydney in 2001, overpowering the Waratahs 41-24 in a game of nine tries, and they haven’t lost to New South Wales since 1959.
The Lions’ overall record against the NSW Waratahs is: P20 W15 D1 L4. There were 11 wins in a row on the tours of 1888, 1899, 1904 and 1908 until New South Wales triumphed 6-3 on 22 August, 1908.
The other home wins in the fixture came in 1930, 28-3, in 1950, 17-12, and in 1959, 18-14. The 6-6 draw came in 1966.
The side the Lions face next June will be coached by former Heineken Cup winning boss Michael Cheika and will be packed full of Wallaby squad members, but can they post a fifth win over the Lions?
No other Australian province has beaten the Lions as many times. In fact, the Waratahs are only one win behind the Australian national team in victories over the Lions in exactly the same number of matches.
The 2013 game against NSW Waratahs is at the Allianz Stadium on Saturday, 15 June. The other game the Lions will play in Sydney will be the third and final Test against the Wallabies on 6 July at the 83,500 capacity ANZ Stadium, the main venue for the 2000 Olympic Games.
NSW Waratahs v British & Irish Lions
NSW 2, Lions 18
NSW 6, Lions 18
NSW 2, Lions 16
NSW 3, Lions 4
NSW 5, Lions 11
NSW 0, Lions 27
NSW 6, Lions 29
NSW 0, Lions 5
NSW 0, Lions 3
NSW 0, Lions 8
NSW 6, Lions 3
NSW 10, Lions 29
NSW 28, Lions 3
NSW 6, Lions 22
NSW 17, Lions 12
NSW 18, Lions 14
NSW 6, Lions 6
NSW 12, Lions 14
NSW 21, Lions 23
NSW 24, Lions 41