Although the Lions have limped home; tails between legs and performances rated somewhere between mediocre and woeful, their travelling support can pride themselves upon salvaging kudos for Britain and Ireland. By universal consent, the Lions' fans were superb ambassadors for their countries. And, in contrast to Sir Clive Woodward's bloated squad, their success is due largely to the number present. At the end of the tour, 25,000 rugby devotees from Blighty and Erin's Isle were believed to be in New Zealand, whereas three months earlier more than double that figure had been forecast. Then the Kiwi media warned of provincial towns being unable to cope with the influx and, much worse, stadiums inhabited exclusively by Lions fans. The theory was that Brits clenching fistfuls of sterling would descend upon locals whose sense of opportunism exceeded their patriotism, buy their tickets and leave the All Blacks playing before hostile crowds. This scenario did not eventuate and the earliest indication the volume of 'invaders' had been greatly exaggerated came prior to the Otago fixture, when an irate bar owner lamented about being advised to stock 120 kegs of beer but finding only 43 were needed. It was during the build-up to the first test in Christchurch that the true situation became apparent. There were sufficient northern hemisphere oval ball aficionados to provide a carnival pre-match atmosphere, their team with significant though hardly dominant support and the domestic economy with a welcome fillip. Hostelries frequented by the Lions faithful announced record daily profits and sports merchandise stores boasted of tripled turnovers. In addition, there were campervan hires, petrol sales, accommodation fees, etc, etc. But it wasn't merely their enthusiasm in the disposal of their disposable income which won over New Zealanders. The visitors' general affability - despite the displays of the sadly inadequate Lions - also won immense admiration. They mixed happily with Kiwis and, amazingly, no arrests for drunkenness or disorderly behaviour were recorded during the expedition. Most of them journeyed individually, in pairs or small groups. The original assumption they would all come under the umbrella of a formal organisation, The Barmy Army, proved incorrect. The Barmy Army established itself as a large, colourful and co-ordinated grouping of English cricket enthusiasts some time ago. Its attempts to create a rugby battalion failed in this instance. Rugger types, it seems, are too free-spirited to be regimented and the Irish and Welsh, in particular, had little desire to be involved with an entity they associate with eccentric English cricket buffoons. Scepticism over the Army's commercial activities was also apparent. There will probably be limited references to the Barmy Army when the Lions visit again in 2017, however the team's supporters, in whatever guise they arrive, will certainly be welcomed.