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Lions 2017: How far late call-ups may have to travel

Late call: Shane Williams arrives in Sydney as a Lions call-up in 2013 Rugby World

We know there will be injuries and that replacements will be called up for the British & Irish Lions in New Zealand. We look at how far those on Home Nations tours may have to travel if they get the call...


Unhappy with some of the selections in the British & Irish Lions squad? Rather see one of the other Home Nations heroes picked instead? Well do not despair yet, as injuries and late call-ups inevitably happen – we showed as much with this piece on Lions replacements through the years.

Okay we expect there to be plenty new faces on the tour before it’s end in July, but where could these call-ups come from? It is not the most important factor, but in the past it can be said that having a close proximity to the tour party is a plus. So here’s a look at where the home nations will be at certain points of the summer.

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None of the home nations have a match on foreign soil until 10 June, but by that stage England will be in Argentina (San Juan – over 46 hours by plane from Auckland at best) and Ireland in the US (New Jersey – but a shade over 20 hours by plane, via JFK Airport). Scotland will be in Singapore (just under a ten-hour flight to Auckland). The Lions will be on the south island at this point, ahead of their fixtures against the Crusaders in Christchurch on 10 June, then the Highlanders in Dunedin on 13 June.

By the next week Wales will be in New Zealand for a Test against Tonga on 16 June, held in Pukekohe just south of Auckland (this match will be played on the same day, in the same venue as the All Blacks face Samoa, so expect Lions coaches to be present). That Test is just 24 hours before the Lions face New Zealand Maori in Rotorua – the towns of Pukekohe and Rotorua are a two hour and 20 minute drive apart.

By this point Ireland will be in Japan (Shizuoka on the Honshu island – where after a three hour or so trip to Tokyo it could take just over ten hours to get to Auckland) and Scotland will be facing the Wallabies in Sydney (around three hours away from Auckland by plane). England will be in Santa Fe (30+ hours by plane to Auckland).

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A week later Wales will be facing Samoa in Apia (just over four hours from Auckland by plane), Scotland will be up against Fiji in Suva (just over 3 hours from Auckland), and Ireland have Japan in Tokyo (just over ten and a half hours if you get a non-stop flight). By this stage, England will be done and after these fixtures so will the other Home Nations. That’s when we get into the territory of players taking personal holiday…

For those who are wondering – catch it sweet, and you can get from Heathrow to Auckland in a shade over 24 hours.

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