A year before we went on the Lions tour to New Zealand in 2005, Terry and I toured both Islands in their summer. We knew that it was likely to be cold and wet on the tour (it was!) and we wanted to see the country in summer.
A full 18 month before the Lions were due to arrive in NZ the anticipation of their rugby fans (just about everyone then) was incredible.
There were banners down every high street and as soon as they found out we were from the UK we found ourselves in conversations about rugby.
I remember us discussing who we thought would be selected as the Lions captain with a granny in a cake shop! We also had fun in a Maori bar discussing the Lions whilst watching a Super 12 match – all this even before the Lions coaches had been appointed.
The obsession with rugby in NZ makes the Welsh look like they are only mildly interested – which is saying something.
This week the tickets for the games against the NZ Maoris and all the Super teams went on sale heralded by this dramatic video –
Anyone lucky enough to be going to support the British and Irish Lions next year certainly won’t lack for anyone to chat to about rugby.