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New Zealand In Focus: Christchurch

New Zealand In Focus: Christchurch

The British & Irish Lions will travel the length and breadth of New Zealand on the 2017 Tour.

The 2017 Lions first trip to the South Island takes them to Christchurch

The British & Irish Lions will travel the length and breadth of New Zealand on the 2017 Tour.

In only six weeks, the tourists will play ten games, in seven different cities against eight different opponents.

The Land of the Long White Cloud has a vast array of scenery and attractions for fans to take in and with the Tour now only a matter of months away, it pays to be prepared.

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But fear not, help is at hand and we have put together a hand guide to each of the seven cities that will play host to the Lions on Tour.
 
Overview

The Lions first trip of their 2017 Tour to the South lsland, and their third match, will see them travel to the island's largest city, Christchurch.

Click here to see our Tour packages to New Zealand that include Christchurch 

The city is the third biggest in New Zealand and is approximately a 90-minute flight from Auckland.

Known to many as the Garden City, Christchurch sits in the region of Canterbury, New Zealand’s largest region and sits with the Southern Alps to its west and Pacific Ocean to its east.
 
What is there to see and do?

There is no lack of activities to keep you interested if you’re visiting Christchurch and the wider Canterbury region.

The city can be explored by foot, tram or by bike and if the weather’s good you can explore the beautifully maintained Botanic Gardens or punt down the River Avon.

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If the weather takes a turn for the worse, the Air Force Museum of New Zealand, Canterbury Museum and, to learn more about the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, Quake City are all options.

If you’re looking for something a bit different the International Antarctic Centre is just a 15-minute drive from the city centre although prepare for a chilly reception.

Further afield, there’s the TranzAlpine train line which takes you across the island and through the spectacular Southern Alps or nearby seaside resorts of Lyttelton and Akaroa which are worth a visit.
 
Opponents

The third match of the Lions’ Tour to New Zealand takes place on Saturday June 10 against the seven-time Super Rugby champions Crusaders.

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The only side to have completed a Super Rugby season unbeaten, they reached at least the Super Rugby semi-final every year between 2002 and 2014, and have won the title seven times overall.

The Crusaders will be certain to provide a test for the Lions in their second match against Super Rugby opposition after the squad hear the Crusaders’ theme music Conquest of Paradise by Vangelis.
 
Stadium

The Crusaders played in their 36,000 capacity AMI Stadium in Christchurch, formerly Lancaster Park, until 2011 when the earthquake damaged it and the club were forced to move out.

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The Lions will be playing at Rugby League Park (also known as AMI Stadium) in the suburb of Addington in June in front of a sell-out 18,000 rugby-mad fans.
 
Lions Record

The Lions didn’t face the Crusaders during the 2005 Tour but will know the city well from their 21-3 defeat against the All Blacks in Christchurch last time out.

The Crusaders franchise represents a number of regions including Canterbury who have been regular opponents for The Lions down the years.

The Lions first fixtures against Canterbury were during the 1888 Tour where they beat them three times but the hosts would have their revenge with a 13-8 win in 1908.

The New Zealand side would be successful again, 14-8, in 1930 and it wasn’t until their next fixture, 20 years later, that Lions had another victory 16-5.

Canterbury were successful in 1959 before there were three straight Lions victories in 1966, 1971 and 1977.

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In 1983, Canterbury were victors over the Lions by two points despite tries from Hugo MacNeill, David Irwin and Roger Baird.

The Lions last match against Canterbury took place in 1993 and saw the Lions triumph 28-10 as Rob Andrew scored a try, conversion, penalty and drop goal in a 13-point haul.

Jeremy Guscott, Tony Underwood and Mike Galwey also got tries in that match and the Lions lead the overall head-to-head 8-4.
 
Famous sons

Christchurch has a strong rugby tradition and was the birthplace of 2001 British & Irish Lions coach Graham Henry who led the squad on their Tour of Australia.

Henry was the first coach from outside the Home Nations to lead the Lions, having led Wales successfully for numerous years, but was in charge of the All Blacks for the Lions’ 2005 Tour and won the 2011 World Cup as coach of his country.

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The Lions’ suffered a 3-0 defeat in that 2005 series with All Black legends Richie McCaw and Dan Carter, two players born and bred in Canterbury and regulars with the Crusaders, both playing crucial roles in the series.

McCaw led the All Blacks over 100 times and is a two-time World Cup winner while Carter is the leading points scorer in Test Match rugby and also has two World Cups to his name.

Leicester Tigers’ interim director of rugby Aaron Mauger also heralds from Christchurch and featured in two of the three Tests in 2005 on his way to 45 All Black caps between 2001 and 2007. 
 

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