13 February 2024 10:58 Reading Time: 6 mins
The British & Irish Lions Trust has today announced its five charity partnerships all of which have rugby at the heart of what they do and make a real impact on communities.
The two-year partnerships will allow the charities to use The British & Irish Lions digital platforms and the Lions Charitable Trust branding for promotion.
The Lions will also collaborate with the charities on fundraising and awareness events. In addition, merchandise from the Lions Tour to Australia, signed by the 2025 squad, will be provided to each charity for auction.
“One of the key objectives of The British & Irish Lions is to have an impact off the pitch as well as on the pitch, and we are proud to be partnering with five incredible charities who all have a connection with rugby at their core.” said Ben Calveley, British & Irish Lions CEO.
“We look forward to supporting these charities and highlighting the important work they do.”
Gavin Hastings, British & Irish Lions Trust Chairperson, added: “The Lions charity programme was first established in 2021 and has been a great success. It is a privilege to announce the five charity partnerships today and we are looking forward to working closely with each of these outstanding charities to support them raise much-needed funds for their charitable causes.”
Dallaglio RugbyWorks was founded by former England international and three-times Lions tourist Lawrence Dallaglio. The charity grew out of Lawrence’s vision to offer a long-term skills-development programme for young people, based on the values of rugby. Each year, it helps hundreds of teenagers outside of mainstream education to develop the skills they need to get into sustained employment and training.
Zenna Hopson, CEO, Dallaglio RugbyWorks said: “We are thrilled to embark on this incredible journey as a new partner of The British & Irish Lions Trust. Together, we are aligned in our values, our mission, and also the power of rugby to make a lasting impact for young people, fostering resilience, and positive change. This partnership symbolises our shared commitment to harnessing the transformative spirit of the sport, creating a legacy that extends far beyond the field, to ensure that despite our young people being excluded from school, they will not be excluded from society.”
LooseHeadz is rugby’s mental health charity on a mission to place a mental health lead in every rugby club around the world, using rugby as a vehicle to tackle the stigma and help the rugby community talk openly about what can be a challenging subject.
The charity provides each partner rugby club with a toolkit of free resources to support the mental fitness of players, coaches and supporters. LooseHeadz currently works with around 1,000 rugby clubs in 20 different countries to help get people talking and #TackleTheStigma.
Rob Shotton, Co-Founder, LooseHeadz said: “LooseHeadz started as a conversation at the end of our local rugby club bar whilst watching the Lions Tour of New Zealand back in 2017. Just 6 and a half years later, to partner with the Lions is a monumental milestone in our journey. When we first penned our ambitious 10-year business plan, the vision of joining forces with the Lions for this Tour was a cherished dream. And now, as this dream becomes a reality, it stands as our crowning achievement. This partnership, deeply rooted in the very essence of rugby, ignites our fervent belief that alongside an organisation as iconic as the Lions, we can take LooseHeadz to the next level. We’re excited to join the pride and tackle the stigma together.”
Matt Hampson Foundation
The Matt Hampson Foundation inspires and supports young people seriously injured through sport. Through expert physiotherapy, specialist personal training, wellbeing support, mentoring and advice, the Foundation helps people with life-changing injuries to get busy living again.
The Foundation was established in 2011 by ex-England and Leicester Tigers rugby player Matt Hampson OBE, who himself experienced a life-changing injury in 2005 leaving him paralysed from the neck down, aged just 20.
Matt Hampson OBE, Creator of Matt Hampson Foundation said: “We are incredibly grateful and excited to be named as an official charity of the Lions Trust. As rugby fans, it means such a lot for us at the Foundation to be involved with a name known throughout the world and we look forward to working closely with the team to increase awareness of both our Foundation and the Trust as well as, of course, supporting the squad on their 2025 Tour. The British & Irish Lions stands for so much that is good about the game of rugby and their values of respect, unity, integrity and friendship reflect how our Foundation works to bring people together in a special and supportive community.”
My Name’5 Doddie Foundation
The My Name’5 Doddie Foundation was founded in November 2017, following former Scotland international Doddie Weir’s diagnosis with motor neuron disease (MND). Doddie Weir earned 61 caps for Scotland, along with representing The British & Irish Lions on their 1997 Tour of South Africa. The Foundation aims to raise funds to aid research into the causes of MND and investigate potential cures, and to make grants to individuals suffering from MND, to enable them to live as fulfilled a life as possible. To date, My Name’5 Doddie Foundation has committed over £11 million to MND research, as well as providing grants to support people living with the disease.
Jill Douglas, CEO, My Name’5 Doddie Foundation said: “Partnering with The British & Irish Lions Trust in 2021 was an incredibly significant moment for My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, and one that meant a great deal to Doddie too. To be asked to be a charity partner again for the 2025 Tour to Australia is an honour and one that will make a real difference as we seek effective treatments to MND. We’d like to thank The British & Irish Lions Trust for their ongoing support and look forward to creating an exciting calendar of activations with them.”
Wooden Spoon, the children’s charity of rugby, aims to positively transform the lives of vulnerable children and young people through the power of the rugby community. Projects include specialist playgrounds, sensory rooms for children with autism, out of school educational programmes and specialist adapted sports equipment.
Sarah Webb, CEO, Wooden Spoon said: “The British & Irish Lions gravitas in the rugby community is legendary and this partnership’s endorsement of Wooden Spoon’s grant making activities, really bolsters the ambitions of our volunteers and supporters. The Lions embodiment of coming together to support each other to succeed, resonates deeply with Wooden Spoon’s own community who tirelessly raise awareness and funds to positively transform the lives of children and young people facing disadvantage, through the power of the rugby.”
Source – British & Irish Lions
Barry John: Rugby world and beyond pay tribute to ‘The King’
Figures from the rugby world and beyond have come together to pay tribute to Barry John following the British & Irish Lions star’s death aged 79.
John, nicknamed “The King” due to his brilliance from fly-half during the 1971 Tour of New Zealand, was considered one of the game’s greatest-ever players.
He was influential when the Lions beat the All Blacks 2-1 in a historic Tour and formed a legendary half-back partnership with fellow Welshman Sir Gareth Edwards.
Speaking to BBC Radio Wales Breakfast, Edwards said: “He was a one-off, no doubt about that.
“He was carefree but had such vision when it came to playing the game. Even under the most immense pressure he would just stand there, look up and do something unbelievable.
“He was friendly and always wanted to chat, but he was also lethal on the rugby field when he decided to do something.”
Along with his five appearances for The Lions across the 1968 and 1971 Tours, he earned 25 caps for Wales in a hugely successful period for the national side, winning three Five Nations, a Grand Slam and two Triple Crowns.
He called time on his career aged just 27 but provided inspiration for many who have gone on to wear the famous Wales or Lions shirts.
Former Wales and Lions captain Sam Warburton said: “What he contributed to the game, even now, 50 years later, still transcends rugby across the world and he hasn’t picked up a ball for 50 years.
“They are heroes for so many people. The legacy that they’ve left Welsh rugby means when you pick up that shirt that you’re following in their footsteps.”
His outlandish talent brought many new eyes to the sport, and a year before he retired, he finished third in the 1971 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award, pipped only by Princess Anne and George Best.
Much like Best, he was not just adored on the field but loved off it with many stating he was rugby’s first star.
Saddened to hear of Barry John’s passing. We’ve lost another giant of Wales & Lions rugby, an icon of his era and an inspiration for a generation to get into rugby. Condolences to his family, friends & welsh rugby community.
— Sir Bill Beaumont (@BillBeaumont) February 5, 2024
Only one rugby player in history could have hung out and done photoshoots with George Best without appearing ludicrous. RIP Barry John 🏴 pic.twitter.com/OMpq6ygRSy
— Graham Thomas (@Graham_Thomas) February 4, 2024
— Jonathan Davies OBE (@JiffyRugby) February 4, 2024
My greatest idol of all time has gone, RIP Barry John I fell in love with rugby because of you. Another legend has left us but you and Gareth were the greatest of all time As a 6 year old boy I started watching him and only a few years later he had retired and I cried all week🙏 pic.twitter.com/OcK0Nh4so2
— John Devereux (@DevereuxJohn13) February 4, 2024
Along with his established international career, he brought joy to Cefneithin, Llanelli, Cardiff and Barbarians fans across the country.
It is with a heavy heart that we report of the passing our very own “Brenin” Barry John. Born and raised in the village, Barry went on to achieve greatness on the rugby field as well as serving as club president. Our thoughts and prayers are with Barry’s friends and family 💚💛 pic.twitter.com/0JemkLIbjG
— Cefneithin RFC (@CefneithinRFC) February 5, 2024
We are deeply saddened to hear about the passing of the great Barry John
Barry played 87 games for the club across four seasons and was fly-half when we beat Australia in 1967
An icon of the game, our thoughts are with family, friends and former team-mates at this sad time pic.twitter.com/YhYkpWeQer
— Scarlets Rugby (@scarlets_rugby) February 4, 2024
We are absolutely devastated to learn of the passing of Barry John. One of the greatest players to pull on the Blue and Black and what a partnership he shared with Sir Gareth.
— Cardiff Rugby (@Cardiff_Rugby) February 4, 2024
Very sad news as rugby loses another legendary talent & wonderful character.
RIP Barry 🏉
— Barbarian FC (@Barbarian_FC) February 4, 2024
Barry John’s famous words to Gareth Edwards are remembered as “You throw it, I’ll catch it”.
In reality, they spoke Welsh with each other and he actually said, “Twla di fe, ddala i fe”. 🏉
He floated across the field with ease.
Nos da Barry John 🏴 pic.twitter.com/8PlgfUrLa3
— Cymru Wales 🏴 (@Cym_Wal) February 4, 2024
Former players and journalists from across rugby also shared their memories of one of Wales’s greatest athletes.
ITV’s Chris Skudder said: “He was so gifted as a fly-half, it was said he could side-step a player in a telephone box.
“There was only one Barry John.”
Newyddion trist iawn 💔
Another one of our great rugby sons leaves us.
Thank you King Barry John for the memories.
— Jason Mohammad (@jasonmohammad) February 4, 2024
— Mike Pearce Rugby (@MPsportsdragon) February 5, 2024
Very sad to hear the news of the passing of BARRY JOHN – ‘KING JOHN’ – LEGEND OF RUGBY LEGENDS and one of THE nicest guys I ever had the privilege of spending time with. What a gentleman and a lovely man. #BarryJohn #BarryJohnTheKing pic.twitter.com/LzGw4CZUiq
— Paul Trevillion (@PaulTrevillion) February 5, 2024
RIP Barry John, the King. Another legend of the game lost – very sad.
— Brian Moore (@brianmoore666) February 4, 2024
Welsh Rugby Union’s president Terry Cobner added to the tributes, he said: “To be crowned ‘The King’ in New Zealand when every back row forward in both the North and South Islands is trying to take your head off is quite some accolade.”.
“For me, he has got to be right up there among the greatest outside halves who have ever played the game – probably the greatest.
“He was a glider, rather than a sidestepper, who had a subtle change of pace and direction. Coming on top of the recent deaths of Brian Price and JPR Williams, this is another huge blow for Welsh rugby.
“After what he did for Wales and the Lions in 1971, those of us who followed him into both teams always felt we had huge shoes to fill. He was and will remain a legend of our game.”
Source – British & Irish Lions
CEO Ben Calveley: British and Irish Lions Women’s Series announcement a “historic milestone”
British & Irish Lions CEO Ben Calveley hailed confirmation of the first-ever Lions Women’s Tour in September 2027 as a significant milestone in the touring team’s 136-year history.
The inaugural Howden British & Irish Lions Women’s Series will take place in New Zealand, the home of the current world champions, following a feasibility study commissioned by Founding Partner Royal London.
After a three-part process, the Tour is projected to be commercially sustainable for all stakeholders and Calveley believes this is only the start of what is set to be a monumental journey.
“We do believe this is a historic milestone in our 136-year history and we’re really pleased to be announcing the 2027 tour,” he said.
“It brings with it sell-out crowds, we’ll have passionate fans in full stadiums.
“There will be a high media footprint, we’re seeing high levels of interest and importantly it is commercially sustainable, not just for the Lions but for the hosts in New Zealand rugby as well.
“We want the bulk of the matches to take place in another location, a country that we can travel round and have lots of community impact.
“We wanted to make sure we were taking decisions that were in the best interest of the Lions and the best interest of the women’s game. This is day one for us and we’ve got lots of decisions to make.”
The Howden British and Irish Lions Women’s Series will retain the idea that a Test series will take place at the end of a Tour and its squad foundations will be based upon merit-based selection.
As Lions, We Are One 🦁
A milestone moment for the Lions 🤝
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) January 16, 2024
Founding Partner Royal London will also oversee player development through an elite players’ Pathways Funding grant which will support the elite women’s player pathways in Scotland, Wales, Ireland and England.
The moment of parity was particularly poignant for Chair of The British & Irish Lions and the Lions Women’s feasibility study steering group, Ieuan Evans, who featured in three Tours with the Lions between 1989 and 1997.
“I’m fortunate to have gone on a number of Lions Tours which, in many ways, shaped me and to a large extent defined me as a person,” Evans said.
“It is an opportunity for women now to sample that exciting experience of being on a Lions Tour.
“Going out there to take on the world champions, the Black Ferns in New Zealand in three and a half years is going to be special.
“It is an incredibly humbling moment for me to deliver something genuine, authentic and real which will enhance the women’s game and the Lions as an entity as well.
“It is heaped in tradition but the Lions Women will be ploughing their own furrow – it’s something really palpable, even this far ahead of the tour.
“This is for all those people who are training now and for young girls to watch this in a few years and be inspired, just like I was growing up.”
Source – British & Irish Lions
British & Irish Lions Women’s team launched
- Creation of Lions Women’s Tour confirmed
- Inaugural Lions Women’s Team to tour New Zealand in September 2027
- Tour to feature three Test matches against the Black Ferns
- British & Irish Lions also unveil Principal Partners for the Lions Women’s Team and Series – Royal London and Howden
- Royal London announced as Founding Partner of the Lions Women’s Team and will also be the front of jersey sponsor for the official Lions Women’s Team jersey
- Howden confirmed as Series Title Partner of the Howden British & Irish Lions Women’s Series
The British & Irish Lions is pleased to announce initial details for the first-ever Lions Women’s Tour in September 2027.
The Howden British & Irish Lions Women’s Series will take place in New Zealand, the home of the current world champions with the Lions Women’s team playing three Tests against the Black Ferns alongside pre-Test fixtures.
The British & Irish Lions will continue to collaborate with all key stakeholders, including its constituent Unions, World Rugby, and the various leagues to finalise full Tour details including the Tour schedule. The inaugural Test match Series will take place in September 2027 during the women’s global competition window and will not overlap with the men’s Rugby World Cup 2027.
This announcement follows a feasibility study funded by Lions Founding Partner Royal London, which concluded that the optimum time for the Tour is 2027. The feasibility study also investigated all key aspects of creating a Lions Women’s Tour with a consultation process exploring brand, commercial, financial, spectator, logistical, and scheduling considerations.
The feasibility study was followed by a Tour host selection process with New Zealand emerging as the preferred Tour destination. Further details associated with the Tour are set to be announced in due course.
The British & Irish Lions is also pleased to unveil major commercial partnerships for the Lions Women’s Tour, in what is a significant endorsement for the Tour and Series, women’s rugby, and women’s sport generally.
The UK’s largest life, pensions, and investments mutual, Royal London is confirmed as Founding Partner of the Lions Women’s Team. It will also be the front of jersey sponsor for the official jersey, after funding the original feasibility study as longstanding supporters of the prospect of a Lions Women’s Tour.
The partnership will also see Royal London invest in player development in each of The British & Irish Lions constituent Unions through the delivery of a special elite players’ Pathways Funding grant.
The grants will support the elite women’s player and coach pathways in Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and England, to help Unions develop more players and coaches capable of being selected for the inaugural Lions Women’s Tour. In addition, Royal London will also be investing in women’s and girls’ grassroots rugby across the UK and Ireland in the run-up to the Tour.
Leading global insurance group Howden meanwhile has been confirmed as the Series Title Partner of the inaugural Lions Women’s Tour which will be named the Howden British & Irish Lions Women’s Series. Howden’s support for the Lion’s Women’s Tour is part of its overall partnership with The British & Irish Lions which also sees them support the Lions at a community level via the Lions Origin Clubs, as well as being the official front of jersey sponsor for the upcoming 2025 Lions Men’s Tour to Australia.
Ben Calveley, CEO, British & Irish Lions said: “Supporting the growth of the women’s game is a key strategic priority for The British & Irish Lions as it is for each of our Unions. Significant effort has gone into exploring the concept of a Lions Women’s Tour and great credit needs to go to the members of our steering committee, our board, and our staff.
“In particular, I want to recognise the collaboration of our four Unions and thank them for their continued support and the level of commitment they have shown throughout this journey. I would also like to thank World Rugby for the reforms to regulation 9 which makes this Tour possible in 2027. We are also very grateful to all the clubs as well as wider stakeholders who have all been very supportive and accommodating during this process. We look forward to collaborating further with all stakeholders over the coming months to finalise plans for this historic Tour.
“It is also significant that we are announcing two major commercial partnerships for the Lions Women’s Tour today which is recognition of the huge potential of the Tour, the desire for large brands and organisations to be associated with it, as well as the growth of women’s rugby. Royal London has been an outstanding partner to The British & Irish Lions and a consistent advocate both for this Tour and for the women’s game. Their aim is to make a positive impact on women’s rugby and continue its growth and success story and we are honoured to have them on board.”
“We are thrilled to confirm Howden as the Series Title Partner for the Tour to New Zealand. They have demonstrated a real appetite and desire to support the women’s game and get behind this Tour and we look forward to working closely with them in the years ahead.”
“Playing three Test matches against the current world champions, the Black Ferns in New Zealand in front of thousands of fans represents the ultimate challenge and makes for a fantastic sporting spectacle. We look forward to working with all our stakeholders including New Zealand Rugby to finalise an exciting inaugural Tour.”
Ieuan Evans, Chairperson, British & Irish Lions said: “This is a key development for women’s rugby and women’s sport in general and we are pleased to announce initial details of the Lions Women’s Tour alongside our constituent Unions, Founding Partner Royal London and Series Title Partner Howden.
“Alongside all the other key stakeholders who have played crucial roles in bringing this concept to this point, we also want to thank our partners in New Zealand Rugby who we are excited to work with in preparation for the Tour. Having seen the superb job they did in hosting the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2022 and the level of interest there was amongst the New Zealand public I have no doubt they will be fantastic hosts and will really add to the overall spectacle.”
Mark Robinson, New Zealand Rugby CEO commented: “When the opportunity arose to be part of history and have the honour of hosting the inaugural British & Irish Lions Women’s Tour, we knew we wanted to be part of it. Women’s rugby is growing at pace in New Zealand and following the success of the Rugby World Cup in 2022, we know the excitement world class competition can generate.
“There will be anticipation around the country about the prospect of hosting the Lions and we look forward to announcing venues and match schedules in the future. The Lions and New Zealand have a long and storied history in the men’s game, and we cannot wait to help write a new chapter in the rivalry – this time between the Lions Women and the Black Ferns.”
Royal London Ambassador and former England International Shaunagh Brown said, “The news today is very exciting for women’s rugby. Current players as well as young women and girls starting out in the sport can now dream of wearing that famous red jersey. This news is reflective of the upward trajectory women’s rugby is on and this Tour represents a great opportunity for the best players from Britain and Ireland to be part of the next exciting chapter of the Lion’s history.
“New Zealand is an incredibly special place to play rugby and will pose a great challenge for the Lions Women’s team in 2027. I look forward to hearing more details as the excitement builds over the next couple of years whilst continuing to work with Royal London as its ambassador; amplifying the support and investment it’s making into player development and grass roots rugby for women and girls, something I’m extremely passionate about.”
Susie Logan, Group Chief Marketing Officer at Royal London, commented: “When we became the first ever Principal Partner of the Lions Women and funded the feasibility report over two years ago, we aimed to play our part in levelling the playing field for women’s rugby and to help break down barriers. So, we are extremely proud to be part of the team that will deliver the first-ever Lions Women’s Tour, and excited to commit to being the Tour’s Founding Partner. The partnership allows us to continue to champion and support women’s rugby from the grassroots up, and to make a difference for this and future generations.”
David Howden, Founder and CEO, Howden Group commented: “Women’s rugby is on an exciting upward trajectory with this historic Lions Women’s Tour being evidence of this. Howden has been involved in community and elite rugby for more than a decade and we are very proud to announce our support for the Lions Women’s Tour with the Howden British & Irish Lions Women’s Series, and expand our association with The British & Irish Lions, an iconic and globally renowned sporting brand.”
Source – British & Irish Lions
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