It’s a little over a week before I leave for my first trip to New Zealand with the British & Irish Parliamentary Lions. The article below which I wrote for Christchurch Rugby Club explains what we are doing while we are there. You can follow our progress, trials and tribulations on Twitter (@plionsrugby), Facebook and on this blog.
The Rugby world descends on New Zealand in September, but in the week before the opening ceremony at Eden Park another tournament will be taking place. Parliamentary teams from France, UK/Ireland, South Africa, Argentina, Australia and Japan will compete in the fifth Parliamentary Rugby World Cup.
The tournament will run from September 1-8 and feature matches in Wellington and Rotorua before finishing in Auckland. Over 200 participants (with at least 40 MPs from around the world) are expected to take part in the tournament, making the Parliamentary Rugby World Tournament a truly global inter-Parliamentary event. The reigning World Champions are the New Zealand Parliamentary team who lifted the trophy on French soil in 2007.
The UK & Ireland have entered a joint team following a successful tour to South Africa in 2009 where they competed as the Parliamentary Lions against a South African Legends team and Pirates RFC. This year they will be playing parliamentary teams from Argentina, South Africa and a Barbarians side as they try to win the Parliamentary World Cup for the first time. Many of the squad played for the Commons & Lords RFC who had one of their most successful seasons with wins over the French, Scottish and Japanese parliamentary teams earlier this year.
As well as playing games in Wellington, Rotorua and Auckland the UK & Ireland Parliamentary Lions will be flying to the South Island to play the “’Christchurch Gentlemen”.
“We were originally coming to Christchurch to watch England play Argentina in their opening Rugby World Cup game”, said tour organiser and hooker Alex Murphy, “but when the venue was switched to Dunedin after the terrible earthquake we decided to show our support to the city and play a game there”.
Many of the Parliamentary Lions squad will be making their first trip to New Zealand. “We can’t wait to find out what the Land of the Long White Cloud is all about” said Andrew Sarek who is acting as Press Officer for the tour. “I am sure it will be a fantastic experience to be there during the Rugby World Cup, but we will also want to see how the country has recovered after the awful events of the past year. We are all looking forward to the game against Christchurch Gentlemen and particularly to the socialising afterwards! ”
The Parliamentary Lions arrive in New Zealand on 1 September playing their World Cup games on the 4th, 6th and 8th of September, before playing a friendly against Christchurch Gentlemen on the 10th.
Click here for the article on the Christchurch Rugby web site
Click here for the Parliamentary Rugby World Cup web site