Rugby: Black Ferns players overjoyed with chance to play inaugural women's British & Irish Lion's tour

Black Ferns players are ecstatic they'll get an opportunity to play British & Irish Lions, with some saying they never thought it would be a possibility.    

NZ Rugby hs announced the first-ever Lions women's tour will go ahead in Aotearoa in 2027, following the staging of a record-breaking World Cup and the first instalment of the new WXV1 competition.   

Made up of players from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, the Lions men have been one of the game's iconic brands for over a century. The men's side last visited New Zealand in 2017, with the three-test series ending in a historic 1-1 tie.  

Black Ferns in action during WXV1.
Black Ferns in action during WXV1. Photo credit: Getty Images

Three-test Black Fern Patricia Maliepo is shocked women's rugby will now get its chance to take part in the storied rivalry.      

"I'll tell you, it's mindblowing for this to even be a thing for women's rugby," she said. "It's so huge.     

"When I was younger, I didn't know who the Black Ferns were or if they even existed. I thought it was just a men's sport.  

"Now everything's just been growing, we've got Super Rugby now and more international tests. To see how much people have caught on to us as Black Ferns, and invested in us and women's rugby is just huge." 

The Lions tour will be the next major event on women's 15s calendar, after the 2025 World Cup in England.     

Young Black Ferns star Sylvia Brunt, 19, believes the tour will help inspire the next generation of Black Ferns players.      

"I can't wait. It's another opportunity outside of the World Cup and the WXV, it's something else to look forward to.    

"We could be there inspiring the next generation to become like us one day."     

Patricia Maliepo kicks a penalty during an international match between France and New Zealand.
Patricia Maliepo kicks a penalty during an international match between France and New Zealand. Photo credit: Getty Images

Women's rugby has taken significant strides over the past decade, with the introduction of several new tournaments across the globe, including Super Rugby Aupiki here in New Zealand.  

The successful bid to host the Lions is just another milestone for the women's game.      

"To see how much it's been exposed to the world and the country even, it's so cool," says Maliepo. "It just goes to show there are opportunities out there for whatever little girl or boy wants to pick up the ball."