HK wooing Lions for 2013 tour stopover

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 July, 2010, 12:00am

Hong Kong bosses are trying to woo the British and Irish Lions to stop over for a game on their way to Australia in 2013.

As the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) prepared for the second instalment of the Bledisloe Cup in October - having staged the first historic encounter on foreign soil in 2008 - chairman Trevor Gregory (pictured) said it was determined to further showcase Hong Kong as a global rugby destination.

'The HKRFU has had discussions with the British and Irish Lions regarding hosting a match as part of the tour of Australia in 2013,' Gregory said. 'These discussions are only in the preliminary stages and nothing has been confirmed.

'We understand the Lions are looking at different options but we believe Hong Kong would make a great host for such an historic match.

'The Lions have a unique heritage in international sport and Hong Kong is a proven venue for making rugby history, as was seen in the positive reaction to our hosting the Bledisloe Cup in 2008 and again this year. Hosting a Lions match would be fantastic for the game in Hong Kong and Asia.'

The British and Irish Lions, who traditionally tour New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, would probably open their tour here against a Barbarians XV on Saturday, June 1, 2013. They would then leave for a nine-match tour of Australia, culminating in three tests - in Brisbane (June 22), Melbourne (June 29) and Sydney (July 6).

The Lions last toured Australia in 2001, losing the test series 2-1. They were then coached by New Zealander Graham Henry, who will today lead the All Blacks against the Wallabies in the first Bledisloe Cup match of 2010. The clash in Hong Kong on October 30 will be the fourth and final game in the battle for trans-Tasman supremacy.

Early reports in England said the game could generate up to GBP5 million (HK$60.64 million) for the unions that make up the Lions - England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

The first offshore clash of the All Blacks and Wallabies at Hong Kong Stadium in 2008 had both the Australian Rugby Union and its New Zealand counterpart rubbing their hands in glee as they shared in revenues estimated to be more than HK$70 million. The HKRFU paid the unions HK$6.9 million for bringing the game to Hong Kong. The HKRFU's share of the take is unknown, but it is likely to grab a larger share of the pie in October's match.