Auckland to host two Lions Tests

Auckland has snared two of the three Tests the British and Irish Lions will play during their 10-match tour in 2017.

The Test series starts in Auckland on June 24, before the Lions and All Blacks meet in Wellington seven days later and then return to Eden Park for a July 8 finale, NZ Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said on Friday.

The Lions will play all five New Zealand Super Rugby teams, plus the New Zealand Maori in a five-week tour which opens in Whangarei against a combined provincial XV side on June 3.

The Lions will play six games before the first Test, including Super Rugby opponents the Blues, Crusaders, Highlanders and Chiefs.

The Lions’ last tour to New Zealand was 10 years ago under World Cup-winning England coach Sir Clive Woodward, where they were whitewashed 3-0 by the All Blacks.

The Lions have lost four successive Test series against New Zealand, with their last series victory coming in 1971.

They will head straight to New Zealand without playing a warm-up match.

The Lions took on the Barbarians in Hong Kong before travelling on to Australia two years ago, while they tackled Argentina in Cardiff prior to the 2005 New Zealand trip.

The 2017 Lions had been linked to a fixture in America before starting business in New Zealand, but there will be no preparation match this time around.

Meanwhile, Wales will play Tests in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin on their tour next year.

British and Irish Lions 2017 tour fixtures:

June 3 – provincial union XV, Whangarei

June 7 – Blues, Auckland

June 10 – Crusaders, Christchurch

June 13 – Highlanders, Dunedin

June 17 – Maori All Blacks, Rotorua

June 20 – Chiefs, Hamilton

June 24 – New Zealand, first Test, Auckland

June 27 – Hurricanes, Wellington

July 1 – New Zealand, second Test, Wellington

July 8 – New Zealand, third Test, Auckland.

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