19 May, 11:13
There are six uncapped players in the Ireland squad for the summer tour to North America that was named this morning. An Emerging Ireland squad has also been selected for the Tblisi Cup in Georgia.
British & Irish Lions chairman Andy Irvine said: "We are looking forward to touring such a wonderful country and playing the World champions on their own turf. The tour itself promises be full of challenges in a country where rugby is a real passion but I am confident that the 2009 Lions will acquit themselves well.
"Lions tours are unique events and as such extremely popular. We are expecting tens of thousands of Lions fans to travel to South Africa in 2009 and are certain that every one of them will come back with amazing memories."
SA Rugby (Pty) Ltd MD Jonathan Stones said: "The Lions tour will be a massive sporting event on a par with Rugby World Cup and is expected to be a huge success. We are putting in place an exciting programme and look forward to hosting this unique team."
The Lions will play matches in seven cities over a period of six weeks, commencing with a game against the Highveld XV in Rustenburg on Saturday, May 30, 2009. The tour schedule includes six weekend fixtures and four midweek matches.
Apart from the three Test matches, there is also an interesting fixture against the Emerging Springboks on June 23, 2009. This match is sandwiched between the first and second Tests.
The Test matches against the Springboks will take place on June 20 in Durban, in Pretoria on June 27 and in Johannesburg on July 4.
"It is important to note that two high profile matches have been scheduled in Cape Town, which will allow supporters in that region to see the Lions in action at Newlands," added Stones.
The Lions have toured South Africa on 12 previous occasions, with the first tour there taking place in 1891. That historic tour included Test matches at Port Elizabeth, Kimberley and Cape Town.
Since 1891 the Lions have won 16 Tests against the Springboks and lost 21, while seven Tests have been drawn.
1. 30 MAY 2009 SATURDAY HIGHVELD XV ROYAL BAFOKENG RUSTENBURG
2. 3 JUNE 2009 WEDNESDAY GOLDEN LIONS ELLIS PARK JOHANNESBURG
3. 6 JUNE 2009 SATURDAY CHEETAHS VODACOM PARK BLOOMFONTEIN
4. 10 JUNE 2009 WEDNESDAY SHARKS ABSA PARK DURBAN
5. 13 JUNE 2009 SATURDAY WESTERN PROVINCE NEWLANDS CAPE TOWN
6. 16/17 JUNE 2009* TUESDAY / WEDNESDAY* COASTAL XV* TO BE CONFIRMED* PORT ELIZABETH*
7. 20 JUNE 2009 SATURDAY 1ST TEST ABSA PARK DURBAN
8. 23 JUNE 2009 TUESDAY EMERGING SPRINGBOKS NEWLANDS CAPE TOWN
9. 27 JUNE 2009 SATURDAY 2ND TEST LOFTUS VERSFELD PRETORIA
10. 4 JULY 2009 SATURDAY 3RD TEST ELLIS PARK JOHANNESBURG
With the confirmed schedule for the Lions adventure to South Africa being announced today interest in the tour is set to boom as fans start preparing for the once in a lifetime opportunity.
John Feehan, chief executive of British & Irish Lions Limited, said: "As interest in tickets for the British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa 2009 is building significantly we would like to emphasise to all rugby supporters that only tickets purchased from official sources will enable entry to match venues."
Lions supporters obtaining tickets from unofficial sources run the risk of having those tickets cancelled or being refused entry to a stadium.
Official Travel Packages (including match tickets) and Official Hospitality Packages (including match tickets) can only be purchased from one of the four 'Official Licensed Operators' appointed by British Lions Limited.
The four appointed operators for the European market are:
* England Rugby Travel
* Gullivers Sports Travel
* Thomas Cook Sport
More information on the Official Licensed Operators for the British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa is available at http://www.lionstour.com/.