The Western Force will be the first team to take on the British and Irish Lions in Perth next Wednesday.
The Western Force will be the first team to take on the British and Irish Lions in Perth next Wednesday. Martin Hunter / Getty Images

Exciting time in rugby as Lions international tour kicks off

CAN you believe the British and Irish Lions are already on tour and preparing for today's historic fixture against the Barbarians in Hong Kong?

And can you believe it's only three days until the Lions' tour of Australia starts?

And the first blood will be spilled on Wednesday when the tourists take on the Western Force in Perth.

I must say, it's pretty exciting. I'm full of anticipation and hope for what lies ahead in the next month or so.

I'm sick of the in-bound test tours we have experienced over the last few years, where second-rate teams come here and play four games - three Tests and a one-off mid-weeker.

They are generally boring affairs and do not provide a great deal of marketing value for rugby.

They are important for revenue from broadcast rights and ticket sales, however.

But full, old-school rugby tours are a must, not only for rugby worldwide, but especially for the growth of the code in Australia.

It's a part of rugby's very fabric, and an enormous part of a rugby person's contact with the code.

Full tours with recurring mid-week and Saturday games, travelling around the country visiting and playing in various regions for a month or so, and then with the tour building for the Test series in the last few weeks, it kinda gets my old-school blood flowing.

And that's what we have with this year's Lions trip.

Starting with the game in Perth, they will travel to Brisbane, the Hunter Valley, Canberra, Melbourne, and Noosa (for a well-deserved recharge between the second and third Tests).

With this type of coverage, and tour games, momentum and anticipation builds and expectations develop. It's the type of marketing that only money and these types of tours can provide.

And to have the most famous of rugby teams, the British and Irish Lions, taking part in the most extensive tour of our shores since the amateur days, is truly exciting for the game in Australia.