140 years in the making: 'Festival State' roaring for long-awaited Lions return

Mon, Mar 18, 2024, 5:30 AM
Lachlan Grey
by Lachlan Grey

South Australia's claim as the nation's "festival state" will be well and truly tested by a 40,000-strong touring party of Lions fans in 2025.

That's the view of Classic Wallaby and Stan Sport pundit Tim Horan, who today launched ticket sales for next year's British & Irish Lions v AUNZ Invitational tour match - an unofficial "fourth Test" - at Adelaide Oval.

Click here to purchase tickets for the 2025 British and Irish Lions Tour! Horan was one of a select few to don the original Anzac XV strip in a 1989 Brisbane tour match and believes the combined team plus a fervent Lions support crew is a match made in heaven for South Australia.

"To be able to have All Black players and also Wallaby players here playing an invitational game is really exciting and you only get that opportunity to see in Adelaide," Horan told rugby.com.au.

"I was lucky enough to play in the 1989 Anzac Test match and it's really the fourth Test match. I'm sure there will be 50,000-odd people here watching the Lions and I just hope 15 months is enough warning for all the pubs around Adelaide to make sure they've got enough Guinness.

"What we do probably better than any other sport is the third half - the first and second on the field and the third half off the field.

"We rugby supporters are pretty unique and you'll see so many people from around England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales coming down to visit the wineries, visit all the venues down here and be part of this historic game."

It's been 140 years since the City of Churches last hosted the Lions in 1888.

While the touring side made short work of South Australia on the rugby pitch, the Lions also played four games of Australian Rules football and pulled off a surprise win over Port Adelaide.

SA Major Events Attraction Committee Chair Leon Bignell MP said South Australia would "throw out the welcome mat" and "turn on the hospitality" for the legendary Lions supporters.

"The British and Irish Lions are a phenomenon in the UK and are very much loved by their supporters," Bignell said.

"Tens of thousands of fans join them when they tour every four years and they’re mostly high net worth professionals who like to stay in great accommodation and drink the best wines and whiskeys and eat premium food. "Personally, I’ve been chasing a Lions game for Adelaide for more than a decade and I can’t wait to watch them against the combined Australian and New Zealand team at Adelaide Oval.  "These fans will take over the town in the very best possible way dropping tens of millions of dollars into our economy."

Click here for further information on the 2025 British & Irish Lions Tour.

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