Self-confessed 'rugby nerd’ Niamh Briggs may not have been able to live out her dream of playing for the British & Irish Lions but helping the idea become reality has proved to be the next best thing.

The first-ever female touring party will travel to New Zealand for the three-Test Howden British & Irish Lions Women’s Series in September 2027 following a successful feasibility study into a potential women’s tour.

Irish ace Briggs, 39, formed a key part of the 13-strong steering group and helped make the case that the maiden series involving a Lions women’s team had to be abroad, contrary to some suggestions the side should host.

“If you’re going to go and do something for the first time, you’ve got to do it right,” she said.

“The Lions are synonymous with touring and the stories that come with that.

“As rugby nerds growing up it was all about the Lions documentaries that used to come out, you got a real understanding of the camaraderie, the group together.

“Why wouldn’t we do something like that? Why would we deny the opportunity to go and play the world’s number one team right now representing the Lions?

“I think it’s just so unbelievably exciting. I’ve been holding this in for a while not able to tell anybody anything and now it’s finally out there I just think it’s brilliant. I’m really excited.”

Briggs won two Women’s Six Nations Championships during her time in the green jersey but returns have been leaner in recent times.

Ireland collected the wooden spoon for the first time since 2002 in last year’s competition but the Munster head coach is confident the inaugural Lions women’s squad will have Irish representation.

“From a pathways point of view, there’s been a lot of investment from our unions to try and bridge the gap to the top two at the Six Nations,” she said.

“I can see from an Irish perspective how quickly the game is changing and how much it’s evolving for the better.

“It needed to happen, we all know that. In terms of investment, it’s gone in the right way in terms of we’re now building from the bottom up. We have a clear foundation. 

“I’m very aware of what we had to go through in order to open doors for other people – before me, women that played rugby internationally had to pay for their own jerseys.

“When 2027 happens, I’ve no doubt that I will sit back and think we’ve helped pave the way for that. We’ve a part of that history and I think that’s huge.”

Howden is the Principal Partner of the British and Irish Lions. Through their support Howden aim to contribute to the long-term sustainability of the game and to leave a positive legacy, spanning from grassroots to the elite levels, through the duration of the partnership.