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British & Irish Lions to Play Nine Matches on 2013 Australia Rugby Tour

The British and Irish Lions will play nine matches on a 2013 rugby tour to Australia, including three Tests against the Wallabies, as the combined team seeks to end a run of three straight series losses.

The Lions, who visit a southern hemisphere nation every four years, will open their first trip to Australia since 2001 with a match against Western Force on June 5, 2013. The tour concludes with the final Test against the Wallabies in Sydney on July 6, the Australian Rugby Union said.

“A Lions Tour is a massive occasion,” ARU Managing Director John O’Neill said in a statement. “Behind the Rugby World Cup it is the most engaging, high-profile and popular event our game can showcase.”

The Lions will play five matches in 14 days at the start of the tour, then the first Test in Brisbane on June 22 as they try for a first series victory since beating South Africa in 1997. A 2-1 defeat in Australia 10 years ago was followed by a 3-0 sweep in New Zealand and 2-1 loss to the Springboks two years ago.

Comprising the best players from the England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales national squads, the Lions were victorious in six of their previous seven series in Australia. They’ve won 15 of the 20 Test matches between the teams since 1899.

The Wallabies, who won their first southern hemisphere Tri- Nations title since 2001 in August, finished third at this year’s Rugby World Cup after losing to eventual champion New Zealand in the semifinals.

Australia Fightback

Australia’s only series triumph over the Lions came 10 years ago when the Rod Macqueen-coached Wallabies fought back after losing the opening Test to clinch a 2-1 victory with a 29- 23 win in Sydney.

“Back in 2001, the feature of the First Test was the seas of Red as the Lions fans dressed en masse in the team’s colors to show their support,” O’Neill said. “It was a wonderful time and an unforgettable tour and 2013 promises to be even bigger and better.”

The Lions lost all three Tests to the All Blacks four years later in New Zealand. They went 2-0 down to South Africa in 2009 before snapping their seven-Test losing streak with a victory in the final match.

BRITISH AND IRISH LIONS 2013 TOUR OF AUSTRALIA SCHEDULE:
June 5    vs   Western Force            Perth
June 8    vs   Queensland Reds          Brisbane
June 12   vs   Combined NSW-Qld Country Newcastle
June 15   vs   NSW Waratahs             Sydney
June 18   vs   Brumbies                 Canberra
June 22   vs   AUSTRALIA                Brisbane
June 25   vs   Melbourne Rebels         Melbourne
June 29   vs   AUSTRALIA                Melbourne
July 6    vs   AUSTRALIA                Sydney

To contact the reporters on this story: Dan Baynes in Sydney at dbaynes@bloomberg.net: James Cone in London at jcone@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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