Much to admire. Little to enjoy.

How bizarre. The British Lions are here in New Zealand. So far it has been terribly dull, Other than the advertising frenzy, led by the likes of Telecom - leveraging their sponsorship investment. And isn't that the point? Money and marketing is far more interesting than the thing itself.

The media has taken the opportunity to wax lyrical about how things have changed since the Lions last toured New Zealand, and further back when the Lions were ambassadors for the Old Country and spent time actually mixing with people in local host communitities - in rugby clubs and RSAs. Back then rugby was still an amateur sport. The Lions touring New Zealand now are an altogether different animal.

Sir Clive Woodward's shadow looms over the team. The puppetmaster. If he could secure the World Cup of Rugby for England, why wouldn't he be able to work the magic for the Lions?

The team has a over 100 personnel. Bear in mind that there are 15 players in a rugby football team. I heard a report that back in the good old days there were three roadies to support the team, coach and manager.
I guess that hair and makeup alone makes up a significant percentage of the crew? PR people and minders must make up a chunk of the rest. A psychologlst or two? Psychic..? Who knows. They obviously take it seriously. There is much at stake and I am not just talking about wins, loses and draws. I'm talking media coverage and exposure for sponsors.

It's a shame that the fans have been sidelined. I heard a report that guests staying in the same hotel as the touring team have been asked not to approach the players, speak to them or even ask for an autograph.
Can you hear the alarm bells ringing? It's rugby. It's a game. Players are not royalty. Royalty is not a good thing (where's my guillotine? Vive la Republique). Players used to be heroes of the young. I don't think my son wants access via Hello magazine.

At the end of the day he wants to see a great game of rugby - he's a fan. But wouldn't it be great if he could encounter a player and score an autograph. I'll never forget the effect it had on his own passion for playing when he was invited to a training session with the All Blacks where players coached the kids. The players who shone that day were the one's who engaged with their most committed fans. Byron Kelleher 's franchise increased dramatically. It was obvious he enjoyed the experience, while other, higher profile players treated it like Princess Diana on walkabout - a photo opportunity, not truly engaged, one eye on the exit, the other on the mirror.

Great brands are owned by their fans. One of the reasons nobody I've encountered seems to care about the Lions is that they have put themselves into a hermetically sealed bubble. They even refuse to call the All Blacks the All Blacks - preferring to use the term: The New Zealanders. Oh, please...give us a break. Show the fans some respect and stop acting like Pommie plonkers.

All Blacks Lion's tour pages

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