Lions receive special welcome at the home of New Zealand

Over 400 warriors laid down the challenge to the touring party

Lions receive special welcome at the home of New Zealand

A view of the Maori challenge warriors. Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

The British and Irish Lions squad were honoured by a spectacular reception at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

Although the first match of the tour was played on Saturday, where the Lions laboured to a 13-7 win over a provincial selection, over 400 warriors gathered at the official birthplace of New Zealand to welcome the touring squad. 

“We’ve waited 12 years for the Lions to return to New Zealand," said Nigel Cass, New Zealand Rugby General Manager of the DHL NZ Lions Series, adding: "And it’s fair to say the anticipation across the seven regions hosting matches, as well as throughout the rest of the country has been great.

The British and Irish Lions accept the Maori challenge. Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

“The opportunity to provide a unique New Zealand welcome to the Lions team and their supporters has been fantastic and the event put on by the Waitangi Treaty Grounds was incredible."

John Spencer, British & Irish Lions Tour Manager, said: "The team was honoured by the welcome at Waitangi and genuinely moved by the occasion.

“The entire team was looking forward to the event and it was important to share our cultures in speeches and song at the event,” he added. 

The British and Irish Lions inside the Marae. Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

The Lions head to Auckland top play the Blues on Wednesday.