The British and Irish Lions, formerly known as the British Lions, is a rugby union team selected from players eligible for any of the Home Unions â€“ the national sides of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The Lions are a Test side, and generally select international players, but they can pick uncapped players available to any one of the four unions. The side tours every four years, with these rotating among Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. The 2009 Test series was lost 2â€“1 to South Africa, while the 2013 Test series was won 2â€“1 over Australia.
From 1888 onwards combined rugby sides from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland toured the Southern Hemisphere. The first tour was a commercial venture, and was undertaken without official backing. The six subsequent visits enjoyed a growing degree of support from the authorities, before the 1910 South Africa tour, which was the first tour representative of the four Home Unions. In 1949 the four Home Unions formally created a Tours Committee and for the first time, every player of the 1950 Lions squad had played internationally before the tour. The 1950s tours saw high win rates in provincial games, but the Test series were typically lost or drawn. The winning series in 1971 and 1974 changed this pattern. The last tour of the amateur age took place in 1993.