The new side will take on the Black Ferns in a three-Test series
The British & Irish Lions have announced a first ever women’s tour, which will take place in New Zealand in September 2027.
The inaugural series for the Lions women’s team will involve three Tests against the Black Ferns, who are the current world champions, as well as pre-Test fixtures.
A Tour schedule has still to be finalised, but it will not overlap with the men’s 2027 Rugby World Cup in Australia.
Ben Calveley, CEO, British & Irish Lions said: “Supporting the growth of the women’s game is a key strategic priority for The British & Irish Lions as it is for each of our Unions. Significant effort has gone into exploring the concept of a Lions Women’s Tour and great credit needs to go to the members of our steering committee, our board, and our staff.
“In particular, I want to recognise the collaboration of our four Unions and thank them for their continued support and the level of commitment they have shown throughout this journey. I would also like to thank World Rugby for the reforms to regulation 9 which makes this Tour possible in 2027.
“We are also very grateful to all the clubs as well as wider stakeholders who have all been very supportive and accommodating during this process. We look forward to collaborating further with all stakeholders over the coming months to finalise plans for this historic Tour.”
“Playing three Test matches against the current world champions, the Black Ferns in New Zealand in front of thousands of fans represents the ultimate challenge and makes for a fantastic sporting spectacle. We look forward to working with all our stakeholders including New Zealand Rugby to finalise an exciting inaugural Tour.”
This announcement is another boost for women’s rugby, which continues to gain momentum.
New Zealand might be the world champions but England are currently top of the rankings following the Red Roses’ success at the inaugural WXV tournament last year, during which they went undefeated and beat the Black Ferns.
The Premiership Women’s Rugby (PWR) tournament has also been revamped for this year, with a new broadcaster on board to showcase nine heavyweight club sides battling it out for the title.
Reaction to new Lions women’s team
Ieuan Evans, Chairperson of British & Irish Lions, described the inception of a women’s tour as a “a key development for women’s rugby and women’s sport in general” and praised New Zealand Rugby.
“Alongside all the other key stakeholders who have played crucial roles in bringing this concept to this point, we also want to thank our partners in New Zealand Rugby who we are excited to work with in preparation for the Tour,” Evans continued.
“Having seen the superb job they did in hosting the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2022 and the level of interest there was amongst the New Zealand public I have no doubt they will be fantastic hosts and will really add to the overall spectacle.”
Mark Robinson, New Zealand Rugby CEO, added: “When the opportunity arose to be part of history and have the honour of hosting the inaugural British & Irish Lions Women’s Tour, we knew we wanted to be part of it. Women’s rugby is growing at pace in New Zealand and following the success of the Rugby World Cup in 2022, we know the excitement world class competition can generate.
“There will be anticipation around the country about the prospect of hosting the Lions and we look forward to announcing venues and match schedules in the future.
“The Lions and New Zealand have a long and storied history in the men’s game, and we cannot wait to help write a new chapter in the rivalry – this time between the Lions Women and the Black Ferns.”