The month sees the return of The Lions to New Zealand, four years after their successful 2-1 tour of Australia. Warran Gatland will take coaching duties again as they play nine games in total with three of them against the all-conquering All Blacks. As it only happens every four years, for rugby union and ‘sports fans’ this is a pretty special occasion.
The destination of the tour rotates each time between the ‘big three’ southern hemisphere sides: New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. What makes things more special this time though is that in the current All Blacks XV they are facing are not only the best team in the world but possibly the greatest All Blacks team of all time and winners of the previous two Rugby World Cups.
For me, The Lions Tour has always been a bit of an oddity. As an Englishman I was brought up on a rugby diet of partisan Five and then Six Nations clashes where the real baddies were the Welsh, Scottish, then the Irish and slightly less so the French and Italians. You didn’t mind losing to the French because they were… erm… not Welsh, Scottish or Irish. I was and still am sure they felt the same way about us. I always found it hard to truly route for the Lions when the best players from each nation teamed up to act like friends and take on the might of the Southern Hemisphere.
Anyway, our job as a speaker agency is to find inspirational speakers who can tell the best stories and when it comes to the Lions, these are some of our favourites:
Sean is an All Black great and won one of the great victories over The Lions in 1993, taking the final test to win 2-1 in a tight series. In speeches Sean looks at what organisations can learn about teamwork and leadership from his experience in rugby.
The greatest Irish player and a legendary name in the game, Brian took part in an amazing four Lions tours between 2001 and 2013. He announced his arrival on the international scene with a famous solo effort against Australia in the first test in Brisbane.
“Loved by the English, adored by the French.” Jonny was a Lion in 2001 and 2005, but never took part in a winning tour. In Q&A he discusses his famous mental strength and the techniques he used to help him through the toughest moments of his career.
Gareth was brought on tour in 2005 following injury to Brian O’Driscoll after a controversial tackle and was remarkably make captain for the second and third tests. As an inspirational speaker, Gareth discusses the ups and downs of his career, including becoming an icon as the first openly gay player in the game.
Dawson toured with the Lions three times, scoring a brilliant winning try in the first test having being called onto the tour as an injury replacement for Rob Howley. These days Matt is also an accomplished presenter, leadership and inspirational speaker.