One of the most beautiful countries in the world will welcome The British & Irish Lions and the famous Sea of Red travelling support once again for the 2025 Tour to Australia.
The tourists last visited Down Under in 2013 as Warren Gatland’s men secured a first series win since 1997 with a thumping victory in the decisive third and final Test.
Excitement is already building for the 2025 Tour, which is expected to be one of the most in-demand ever as thousands of fans from the UK and Ireland make the iconic journey.
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And having captained the Lions to Australia at the age of 24, two-time tourist Sam Warburton said the Sea of Red ensured his first Tour was one he would never forget.
“The fans are what made it so special. I’ll never forget going out for the second Test in 2013,” said Warburton, who became the youngest man to lead the tourists.
“Just the fans alone for the warm-up, I got tearful. Nobody would have known I got tearful but I just started welling up as I couldn’t believe the atmosphere and the energy. It’s hard to explain.
“Great weather, brilliant cities, beautiful beaches – it’s amazing. I loved Australia, that was probably my favourite Tour from an enjoyment point of view.
“It’s a phenomenal place to visit and so many places to go.”
2013 was the Lions’ first Tour to Australia since 2001 and saw Gatland’s men renew a rivalry that stretches back to the tourists’ first official visit to the country in 1899.
The tourists got off to a winning start in Brisbane as George North announced himself on the world stage with one of the greatest Lions tries of all time in a tense 23-21 victory.
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Australia was awash with red ahead of the second Test in Melbourne as fans soaked up the delights of the Whitsunday Islands, Cairns, the Gold Coast, Uluru and much more.
The Wallabies bounced back to level the series with a tight 16-15 triumph but roared on by a monstrous Sea of Red in Sydney, the Lions triumphed 41-16 to win the deciding Test.
And while Warburton missed out on the third Test through injury, it was in Australia where the Wales legend recognised exactly what makes a Lions Tour so completely unique.
“The fans are what make the Lions Tour. If someone was to say what’s the one thing that separates a Lions Tour to any other tour, it’s the fans,” said Warburton.
“The effect the fans have on players, I think they probably don’t realise how important that is really. The Lions is different, it’s just different level when it comes to support.
“From the players’ perspective, we’re fans who’ve become Lions so we’re playing as fans. The amount of people, the passion behind the Tour, the places that you go.
“And the uniqueness of just suddenly being best mates overnight with a Scotsman, an Irishman, an Englishman. It’s the single best trip that you will ever go on.
“If you’re a rugby fan and you’re from Britain or Ireland you just have to do it.”
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Martin Johnson also captained the Lions on a Tour to Australia in 2001 and echoed Warburton’s opinion that the country offers rugby fans an experience like no other on earth.
“It’s an invasion, an invasion of fans,” said the three-time tourist. “Australia is a unique destination. Great sporting culture, great outdoors. It’s a great thing to be a part of as a player and to see the Lions and be there as a fan.
“It’s still got some magic, that’s the best word, isn’t it? It’s still got some magic.
“Should you go watch the Lions as a fan? Of course, you should.”