First women's Lions tour confirmed for 2027

A first British and Irish Lions women's tour will take place in 2027 with world champions New Zealand hosting a three-test series, organisers confirmed on Tuesday.

Full details of the inaugural Tour, which will include additional pre-test fixtures, are still being finalised with the various stakeholders, but it will take place in September and not clash with the 2027 men's Rugby World Cup.

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"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," Ben Calveley, CEO, British & Irish Lions, said in a statement.

"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."

Until now the depth of the women's international game has not been sufficient for a Lions tour and while the 2027 squad is likely to be heavily England-based, the development of the other home nations has been a key factor.

Six-time world champions New Zealand were chosen as hosts after a feasibility study and consultation process exploring brand, commercial, financial, spectator, logistical and scheduling considerations.

New Zealand were the most recent hosts of the women's Rugby World Cup in 2022.

"Hosting this tour gives our players a pinnacle event that will be a highlight in their career and it provides an aspirational pathway for our emerging players," New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson said.

"There's nothing like a Lions tour to engage and excite fans. We think this will have a unique flavour, a freshness and excitement like we saw during the Rugby World Cup."

Major commercial partnerships were also announced on Tuesday which will help fund player pathways in each of the unions -- England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

Lions chair Ieuan Evans, the former Wales winger, said a women's tour is a "key development for women's rugby."

"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," he said.

Men's Lions tours began in 1888 and take place every four years, with the cream of Britain's four unions taking on either New Zealand, Australia or South Africa.

The men's Lions travel to Australia next year, with Andy Farrell unveiled as head coach last week.