ARU boss Bill Pulver wants the British and Irish Lions to kick off their 2017 tour of New Zealand in Australia.
The Australian Rugby Union is attempting to lure the British and Irish Lions back Down Under for a money-spinning kick-off to their 2017 tour of New Zealand.
ARU chief executive Bill Pulver has revealed bold plans for a one-off Lions blockbuster which would go some of the way to recouping lost revenue from next year’s World Cup season.
The Lions provided a massive cash injection to the code last year when they played nine games around the country to packed houses, including a drought-breaking 2-1 Test series victory over the Wallabies.
The tourists – combining the best players from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales – started their 2013 campaign against the Barbarians in Hong Kong, the home of major sponsor HSBC, and Pulver is keen for a similar opener in Australia.
“That’s one of the conversations we’ve been having with them (Lions officials),” he told AAP.
“If they want preliminary games outside New Zealand then we would be a wonderful location for them.
“We would take it in a heartbeat.”
The Lions’ last tour to New Zealand in 2005 was a forgettable affair, whitewashed 3-0 in a one-sided series and also controversially losing captain Brian O’Driscoll in the opening exchanges, and the four unions are looking closely at ensuring their best preparations.
Pulver admitted a Wallabies-Lions clash was unlikely while Super Rugby was being held but other options were being considered.
The cash-strapped ARU need to be inventive as they face extra financial strain next year with just two home Test matches – down from seven – scheduled due to the international season revolving around the World Cup, to be held in England in September and October.
They will host the All Blacks in Sydney and South Africa or Argentina, in a Rugby Championship encounter, in Brisbane.
The one silver lining for the 2015 domestic calendar is that, with the loss of the June Test window, Super Rugby will run unbroken from mid-February through to a July 4 final, instead of a momentum-halting three-week break.
The competition will also make a feature out of next year’s Anzac centenary by scheduling five matches between Australasian rivals around April 25.
In releasing the draw on Thursday, governing body SANZAR revealed three trans-Tasman clashes, plus Australian and New Zealand derby matches, as part of the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing.
Defending champions NSW will take on the Melbourne Rebels at ANZ Stadium on Anzac Day in a showpiece battle for the Weary Dunlop Shield.
The Western Force meet the Chiefs in Hamilton and the Brumbies play the Highlanders in Canberra the day before, while Queensland host the Hurricanes on April 26.