British & Irish Lions
Wallaby fans go on 'safari'
Thu, 13 Jun 2013 16:26
Be Bold Wear Gold
Wallaby fans will be urged to don gold "lion-hunting" safari hats to combat the "sea of red" that British and Irish Lions supporters will bring to this month's Test series, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) said on Thursday.
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.
The safari hats will be distributed free to Australian fans as they enter the stadiums in Brisbane on June 22, Melbourne on June 29 and Sydney on July 6.
ARU chief executive Bill Pulver said they 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 were caught unawares by the large numbers of Lions fans on the last tour Down Under in 2001.
"The sea of red was a dominant feature at the [Brisbane's] 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."
The tour has already attracted more than 100,000 fans for the first three matches in Perth, Brisbane and Newcastle, with the Lions - the best of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales - unbeaten so far.
With a further six matches to be played on tour, the ARU expects aggregated crowd numbers to approach 400,000 - an increase of more than 30 percent on 2001 attendances when 300,100 fans attended 10 matches.
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