Canterbury is the official kit suppliers of the British & Irish Lions on their 2021 visit to South Africa, as they were for the 2017 tour of New Zealand.
The British & Irish Lions are one of the most successful and oldest touring teams in the world, with a rich history dating back to the 19th century when the touring tradition began. In 1888 - after a gruelling 46 days of sailing - Captain Robert Sneddon led his 22-man squad, drawing players from England, Scotland and Wales, on a 249-day-long tour of Australia & New Zealand. The tour kicked off in Otago, and the British Lions played 35 matches altogether, against provincial, city and academic teams. Impressively, they won 27 of these matches.
The first Test series took place in 1891 after the Lions were invited to South Africa by the Western province union with expenses paid for by prime minister Cecil Rhodes. The RFU would brand the 21-man team as the English Rugby Football Team, however, the squad contained four Scotsmen including captain and winger Bill Maclagan, an Edinburgh-born stockbroker who accumulated 25 caps for his country and has since been named in the World Rugby Hall of Fame for his early contributions to the sport. Maclagan saw that the squad was dubbed the British Isles. They took part in 20 matches in South Africa, including the first Test matches. The Lions first test match took place at Port Elizabeth Cricket Ground in front of 6000 fans and was won 4-0 by the touring side.
The first British & Irish Lions tour of the professional era took place in 1997, with a trip to South Africa. This tour would become famous not only for the rugby, but also for the Living With Lions documentary, which provided a fascinating - and previously unseen - insight into the behind the scenes goings on. Led by the Scottish duo of Ian McGeechan and Jim Telfer and captained by English second row Martin Johnson, the British Lions would go on to win the Test series against the Springboks 2-1. The advent of professional rugby had brought many rugby league stars over to union, and this tour helped propel the players into the mainstream. This lifted the previously amateur players to new levels of professionalism and performance.
On 10th May 2019, it was announced that Warren Gatland, who led the British & Irish Lions in 2013 and 2017, will once again take charge in 2021. He has yet to lose a Test series, defeating Australia 2-1 in 2013, and drawing with the All Blacks in 2017. The New Zealander will take charge of the Lions after spending the 2020 season in Super Rugby with the Hamilton-based Chiefs. Gatland announced his coaching team in April 2021 which features Gregor Townsend (attack), Robin McBryde (forwards), Steve Tandy (defence) and Neil Jenkins (kicking).
The British & Irish Lions tour dates for South Africa 2021 were revealed in December. 2019. A smaller tour than in recent years, the Lions will play 8 games in 5 weeks, culminating in a three match Test series against 2019 Rugby World Cup winners, the Springboks. The tour had been in doubt due to the ongoing global Covid-19 Pandemic. In particular, South Africa has been hit very hard with its own deadly variant. With this news early in 2021 rumours circulated that the tour may be played in Australia which is well into its recovery from the pandemic, or to the UK where they are well into their vaccination program. However, in May 2021 the British & Irish Lions released a statement confirming their dates for the tour had changed, and unfortunately the matches will be played behind closed doors.
Original Tour Dates:
Saturday, July 3: British & Irish Lions v Stormers - Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
Wednesday, July 7: British & Irish Lions v SA ‘Invitational’ - Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Saturday, July 10: British & Irish Lions v Sharks - Kings Park, Durban
Wednesday, July 14: British & Irish Lions v South Africa 'A' - Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Saturday, July 17: British & Irish Lions v Bulls - Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Saturday, July 24: Springboks v British & Irish Lions - FNB Stadium, Johannesburg
Saturday, July 31: Springboks v British & Irish Lions - Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
Saturday, August 7: Springboks v British & Irish Lions - Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Saturday 3 July: Emirates Lions v The British & Irish Lions (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg) KO 1800 (SAT) / 1700 (BST)
Wednesday 7 July: Cell C Sharks v The British & Irish Lions (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg) KO 2000 (SAT) / 1900 (BST)
Saturday 10 July: Vodacom Bulls v The British & Irish Lions (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria) KO 1800 (SAT) / 1700 (BST)
Wednesday 14 July: South Africa ‘A’ v The British & Irish Lions (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town) KO 2000 (SAT) / 1900 (BST)
Saturday 17 July: DHL Stormers v The British & Irish Lions (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town) KO 1800 (SAT) / 1700 (BST)
Saturday 24 July: Springboks v The British & Irish Lions (1st Test, Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town) KO 1800 (SAT) / 1700 (BST)
Saturday 31 July: Springboks v The British & Irish Lions (2nd Test, FNB Stadium, Johannesburg) KO 1800 (SAT) / 1700 (BST)
Saturday 7 Aug: Springboks v The British & Irish Lions (3rd Test, FNB Stadium, Johannesburg) KO 1800 (SAT) / 1700 (BST)
On the previous visit to South Africa - led by Sir Ian McGeechan and captained by Ireland's Paul O'Connell - the 2009 British Lions won all 6 warm up matches, but fell to a 2-1 Test series defeat to the Springboks.
Between Lions rugby tours, which occur every four years, we have our own brand - FXV Rugby Co - which includes an exclusive range of Lions inspired merchandise. Mainly inspired by famous quotes from the legendary tour of South Africa in 1997, including THAT Jim Telfer speech, the collection includes t-shirts, hoodies and mugs.
All our own brand products are printed in-house to the highest specification. We pride ourselves on using only the best quality base t-shirts and sweatshirts prior to applying our unique designs. We even keep stock up to 5XL so no larger than life rugby man or woman is left out!
If you want to show your support for the British and Irish Lions, check out our expansive official Canterbury merchandise collection in 2021. For this tour, Canterbury has designed a rugby shirt that celebrates the journey a player must undergo to reach the very top of the game, as well as those who have helped them get there… With the Lions squad recognised as being made up of the best of the best, the iconic red jersey’s new design features a striking graphic on the shoulders, comprising a multitude of individual pieces which come together to form the image of a lion. Symbolising the origins of the players and those who have helped them to reach the pinnacle of the game, each piece pays homage to every teammate, club coach, family member and friend who helped them along the way.
Our Lions collection includes the Test Jersey, the pinnacle of shirts as worn by the players, the Pro Replica - all the perfermonce but just that bit more relaxed for the average supporter. Or for those that keep it old school at heart, we have the classic cotton Lions rugby jerseys in long sleeve and short sleeve. All available in mens, womens and kids variants.
Our collection of Lions gear also includes the latest drop from Canterbury - the stealth collection with a blacked-out Lions logo on grey fabrics.
And then we have every piece of kit a Lions supporter could need, Caps, beanies, scarves. Training rugby shirts, tee shirts and singlets. Cotton t-shirts, track pants and sweat shorts for when at leisure. Jackets and waterproofs for rainy days and bags to stuff it all in! For the complete official and authentic British & Irish Lions kit rugbystuff.com has it all.
And remember, all orders over £50 qualify for free UK delivery when you shop online at First XV Rugbystuff.com.