It may still be over six months to the start of the 2009 British Lions Tour of South Africa (the first game is the Lions vs a Highveld XV on 30th May), however excitement is already rising with the recent unveiling of the Official Lions Jersey and, of course, the Springboks in the UK at the moment for the Autumn rugby internationals.
Lions coach Ian McGeehan has already said that he will be keeping a close eye on both potential Lions and the ‘boks, starting with the first game tomorrow aginst 2008 6 Nations champions Wales in Cardiff.
Despite winning last years Rugby World Cup, the Springboks finished a disappointing Tri-Nations series a distant last behind Australia and a dominant All Black side that secured a 9th Tri-Nations championship with victory over the Aussies in the final game. The Springboks by contrast only won two of their six games, but they are bound to be a different proposition both on the current tour and when the Lions are in SA next year.
Demand from fans wanting to follow the Lions is expected to be high despite the recent credit crunch, with up to 50,000 fans predicted to make the journey south. You can see a schedule for the tour and suggestions for safaris and other activites to fill the gap between games in our guide to the 2009 British & Irish Lions Tour of South Africa.