Provincial Barbarians

British and Irish Lions

Rugby U


Here are your teams in full:


HERE WE GO! It's a beautiful morning over what I can see of the British Isles, but it's evening over Toll Stadium, Whangarei, on the northern tip of New Zealand. The very best our isles have to offer – according to some – have made their way to the other side of the world for the biggest test in rugby union. It's game one of the British & Irish Lions tour, and it's about half an hour away.

The Lions tour is always a bit of a throwback, and that's why we like it. They keep with tradition today by playing an invitational side, the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians, made up players from the ITM Cup-level teams (a step down from Super Rugby).

We're hearing news that Toll Stadium was getting drenched with something of a tropical storm earlier, but the conditions seem to have improved and the pitch looks in lovely nick for some good running rugby. Let's hope the Provincial side take that BaaBaas spirit and run with it. I want gimmick plays! I want every penalty in the corner! I won't get it, but I can hope.

Right, let's have a look at some team news. The home side feature a lot of names I don't know, but two of them – second-rowers Josh Goodhue, who starts, anf Matt Matich, on the bench – are in comfortable surroundings, playing as they do for Toll Park's usual occupants Northland. The other name that jumps out is of course Bryn Gatland. Yep. Warren could see his early plans undone by his own son.

For the Lions, we see a predictably mish-mash side unlikely to reflect the test XV, with nine debutants in the famous old red shirt. Kyle Sinckler is a notable one – the Harlequins prop starts here, despite still being uncapped for England. Expect something more than Warrenball in midfield today – the pacy combo of Ben Te'o and Jonathan Joseph suggests sticking it up the jumper isn't on the agenda.

Not long to go now. Toll Stadium, which Wikipedia tells me can hold both 18,500 and 30,000 (great, cheers), looks as full as you'd expect. The Lions take the field, with no Premiership or Pro 12 final players among them, but with plenty of ambition and hope. Ooh, those Provincial BaaBaas shirts are nice. Might have to pick one of those up.

Before we get going, there's a Haka! Or something like it. Not from the Provincial Barbarians, but from presumably local performers in traditional garb. They take ages to run off the pitch. I like to think that's not a traditional thing and they're just trolling. Here we go then! Bryn Gatland kicks off his dad's tour of their homeland!

Baabaas reclaim the kick-off with ease and intent, but a slightly crooked grubber kick from Gatland gives the ball away and allows Laidlaw to kick the pressure away.

Floated pass sets Sam Vaka through on a nice line, and the Baabaas are setting up camp around the Lions 22. The attack is cut short by a forward pass, but they had penalty advantage and kick it into the corner. Lions looking sluggish and jetlagged here, illustrating beautifully why they have six warm-up games before the first test.