The British and Irish Lions rugby union touring organization has today (November 16) unveiled a significant strategic partnership with England’s Premiership Rugby competition and the Europe-based United Rugby Championship, around the Lions’ tour of Australia in 2025.
The tie-up will involve the Lions working with those two parties and their clubs to “enhance the tour’s offering,” and has been announced following consultation between all parties. The Lions team is made up of players from England, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland.
The deal includes all selected touring players in the Lions party to be available for pre-tour activities, and will also feature a “collaborative approach” to elements such as digital content, events, and key announcements.
This approach will also extend to marketing and promotional activities, which due to the timing of the tour will probably take place during the previous Premiership and URC seasons.
Essentially, it gives the Lions more control in terms of marketing activity over touring players than has been the case in advance of previous tours. Ahead of the 2021 tour to South Africa, for example, several players missed a warm-up Lions match against Japan due to domestic club commitments.
The 2025 Lions tour of Australia, the first visit to that country since a famous series victory in 2013, will see matches played between late June and early August, with three test fixtures scheduled – in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney.
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Earlier this month, UK pay-TV heavyweight Sky unveiled the renewal of its long-standing relationship with the Lions, to cover the 2025 tour.
Sky has covered every Lions tour live in the UK since 1997 and the composite team's 2-1 series victory in South Africa.
In mid-October, meanwhile, the Lions unveiled IMG, the global sports and entertainment agency, as their worldwide licensing agency through to 2027.
Ben Calveley, chief executive of the British and Irish Lions, has said: “It is crucial that this agreement benefits not just the British and Irish Lions but also Premiership Rugby and the URC. Our ambition is to make 2025 the greatest Lions Tour ever and we believe the opportunities for collaboration across marketing, promotional, and wider activity will add significant value to all organizations.”
Simon Massie-Taylor, chief executive of Premiership Rugby, added: “Everyone at Premiership Rugby understands how crucial it is to work closely with all stakeholders for the game to continue to thrive and grow. And giving our players and the British and Irish Lions the best possible preparation time in history is vital for both the Lions and Premiership Rugby as we support each other on and off the pitch.
“As a league, we are also looking forward to combining with the Lions to create some new and exciting content to promote the tour, our players, and clubs.”