Wallabies plan to cap the Lions’ sea of red

Tom Croft, the British & Irish Lion, crosses the line for a try against the Waratahs. Cameron Spencer / Getty Images
Powered by automated translation

SYDNEY // Wallabies fans will be urged to don gold “lion-hunting” safari hats to combat the “sea of red” that British & Irish Lions supporters will bring to the Test series, the Australian Rugby Union says.

The ARU said it has produced more than 50,000 “lion-hunting pith helmets” to ensure the Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney Test venues have a golden backdrop for the much-anticipated showdown, which begins next weekend.

The safari hats will be distributed free to Australia fans as they enter the stadiums in Brisbane on Saturday, Melbourne on June 29 and Sydney on July 6.

Bill Pulver, the ARU chief executive, said the hats would be a “call to arms” for Australian supporters.

“We always urge Wallabies fans to ‘Be Bold, Wear Gold’, but that catch cry has never been more important than it is now,” he said. “This has been a tour 12 years in the making. It is an incredibly important moment in our rugby history.

“Added to that, we have the Lions here supported by tens of thousands of fans who will do their best to paint our stadiums red with their jerseys and face painting, their flags and hats.”

Pulver said Australia was caught unawares by the large numbers of Lions fans on the last tour here, in 2001.

“The sea of red was a dominant feature at the [Brisbane] Gabba for the first Test and the Wallabies felt like they were playing away at a stadium in the UK,” he said. “We don’t want a repeat of that here in 2013. We want our Wallabies fans turning up to the Tests in all their gold glory and, to assist that cause, we will be handing out the safari hats.”

– Agence France-Presse