The British and Irish Lions have today confirmed the launch of a women’s team, with an inaugural tour of New Zealand and principal partners also unveiled.
The first-ever Lions Women’s Tour will take place in September 2027, featuring three tests against New Zealand’s Black Ferns alongside pre-test fixtures.
The Lions said they will continue to collaborate with all key stakeholders, including its constituent unions, the World Rugby governing body, and the various leagues to finalize full tour details including the schedule.
A historic day for the Lions as we introduce….
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— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) January 16, 2024
The inaugural test match series will take place during the women’s global competition window and will not overlap with the men’s Rugby World Cup in 2027.
The announcement of the tour follows a feasibility study funded by insurance company and Lions founding partner Royal London, which concluded that the optimum time for the tour is 2027.
The feasibility study also investigated all key aspects of creating a Lions Women’s Tour with a consultation process exploring brand, commercial, financial, spectator, logistical, and scheduling considerations.
The feasibility study was followed by a tour host selection process with New Zealand emerging as the preferred tour destination.
The Lions have also announced major commercial partnerships for the Lions Women’s Tour, with Royal London and fellow insurance firm Howden.
Royal London has been named as founding partner of the Lions Women’s Team and front-of-jersey sponsor.
The partnership will also see Royal London invest in player development in each of the British and Irish Lions constituent unions through an elite players’ Pathways Funding grant.
Howden, meanwhile, has been confirmed as the series title partner of the tour which will be named the Howden British and Irish Lions Women’s Series.
The company’s support for the Lion’s Women’s Tour is part of its overall partnership with the British and Irish Lions after last year being named as shirt sponsor for the 2025 men’s tour to Australia.
Ben Calveley, British and Irish Lions chief executive, 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.
“It is also significant that we are announcing two major commercial partnerships for the Lions Women’s Tour today which is recognition of the huge potential of the Tour, the desire for large brands and organisations to be associated with it, as well as the growth of women’s rugby.”