Rugby Union

Lions get a traditional welcome as they touch down in New Zealand

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Football News

The Lions landed in Auckland today ahead of their first tour of New Zealand since 2005, and were treated to a Maori welcome in the airport as they took their first steps on The Land of the Long White Cloud.

While the world-renowned Haka represents a type of war cry or challenge prior to sporting battles, the Maori people also have ceremonies for hellos and goodbyes, and Warren Gatland's men witnessed a moving spiritual display to help shake off their jet-lag on Wednesday morning.

The Lions' official Twitter page posted a video of the welcome with the words: "What a fabulous welcome as we set foot on New Zealand soil for the first time ahead of #LionsNZ2017 #AllForOne."

With a gruelling schedule ahead of them, Sam Warburton and his men will be hoping to get over any fatigue swiftly because they begin their warm up games on Saturday against the Provincial Barbarians, a team of semi-pro invitational players.

Despite their lesser standing, there is a wealth of experience in the Barbarian's squad at the highest level, and the match will see coach Gatland pitched against his son Bryn, who plays for local side North Harbour, and will feature at fly-half.

The tourists have six games in a little under three weeks to get through before they finally face their official hosts on June 24.

While the team will be looking to get some form built up, it is more a case of getting game time under their belts in the conditions, according to Warburton, than looking to win at all costs.

“It’s all about the Test series. The provincial games are important to win but we’ve got to realise the next three, four weeks are big learning weeks for us. We just need to get better and better after each fixture.”

You can see the incredible reception the British and Irish Lions received in the footage and photos below.

In response, the British and Irish Lions sang, and you can see that video below.

While preparation on the training field will be limited, the Lions will be hoping that match practice will hold them in the right stead as they look to get one over on the best team in Rugby Union world today.

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Ireland Rugby
New Zeland Rugby
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Sam Warburton

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