Australian Rugby’s main man insists the summer series with the Lions is all set to the biggest ever as we hit the 100 day mark.
Kick off to the Australian leg of the Lions latest adventure is now just a century of days away, with Britain and Ireland’s elite preparing to take on the Western Force in Perth on Wednesday, June 5.
The Lions begin their 125th anniversary tour with a mouth-watering clash with the Barbarians in Hong Kong but the remaining nine games, including the three-match Test series, all take place in Oz.
And the build up to the first trip to Australia since 2001 and the Lions’ 12th in total took another huge step forward today as Australian Rugby Union CEO Bill Pulver joined Wallaby stars left, right and centre to celebrate what promises to be a huge occasion for the Brits, the Irish and the Aussies.
“The Lions Tour has been 12 years in the making and in June and July our Qantas Wallabies will face one of the most formidable teams in world rugby,” said Pulver, as Qantas unveiled a new-look plane promoting the Wallabies’ bid to beat the Lions in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
“In 100 Days the Lions will kick-off the highly anticipated Tour, which is looming as the biggest in Australian Rugby history.
“In 2001 around 300,000 tickets sold for the Lions’ nine matches.In 2013 we are hopefully on track to reach close to overall attendance numbers of 400,000 for the same number of games.
“Perth is a wonderful city that will provide a great welcome for the Lions and the many thousands of supporters that will travel with them.
“The Force, who will be playing their first international match, will provide some stiff competition for the Lions in their first hit out on Australian soil.
“It certainly is an exciting prospect.”
And with that excitement clearly building on the southern side of the pond as well over here in all Four Home Nations, Pulver insists he and his countrymen already have their eyes well and truly set on the ultimate goal.
"My priority is that (Wallaby head coach) Robbie Deans has the right preparation in order to make sure we beat the Lions," said Pulver, who remains hopeful, but not overly confident, of tying up a positive agreement regarding player release with all five Australian Super XV franchises despite opposition from the likes of Waratahs boss Michael Cheika and Reds supremo Ewen McKenzie.
"Clearly Robbie's going to get all the support he needs in terms of getting that group together, ideally three weeks ahead of that first game.
"I've got to get back and speak with the various Super Rugby franchises over the next couple of days but we'll be getting an announcement out imminently.
"I'm not sure that we'll get a consensus view… clearly they want to have their players available for every Super Rugby game."