The British and Irish Lions' travelling army of supporters must find their voice to put boot into All Blacks in Wellington

 
Rob Henderson
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New Zealand v British & Irish Lions - First Test Match
Lions supporters saw their team lose the first Test 30-15 on Saturday (Source: Getty)

Having landed in Auckland on Friday morning to cloudy skies and a light drizzle – perfect conditions for northern hemisphere rugby – I began to dare to dream of a first defeat for the All Blacks at Eden Park since 1994 and set off into Auckland to share my new-found confidence with the rest of the red army.

The British and Irish Lions had something of a point to prove after a stop-start tour to date but finally the Test series was upon us and we could collectively show our mettle – on and off the field.

There were bold selections, especially in the back three with no space for George North even on the bench, but the common consensus among supporters was that Warren Gatland had picked the best team to combat the ABs.

The pre-match hype and razzmatazz certainly lived up to expectations in the numerous bars and restaurants of Auckland's vibrant quayside and the competition to win the clash of the colours was clearly evident, Lions fans in red morph suits battling with Kiwi supporters dressed in full panda attire being my personal favourite.

And so to the Test. I don't want to dwell on the performance of the Lions players during the already well-documented 30-15 defeat but instead look at our behaviour in the stands as supporters.

Read more: Lions are rugby's best franchise – but do their results matter?

While the All Blacks machine was purring through the gears, and the Lions team growled in defiance on occasion, we never seemed to get going in the stands which came as a massive surprise to me.

Back in 2001, when I played for the Lions in Australia, the atmosphere in the stadiums was electric and buoyed by the fact that the travelling fans were certainly a 16th man by out-singing the opposition and generally being raucous.

How will we ever forget the immortal "Waltzing O'Driscoll, Waltzing O'Driscoll" ringing out in The Gabba which roared us on to a magnificent victory? I saw and heard little of this on Saturday night.

It is hard enough for the players to travel halfway around the world to take on the best team on the planet in their own back yard without the legion of fans who have made the trip behaving like Victorian children – seen and not heard.

Fortunately we have an opportunity, on and off the field, to put things right on Saturday.

We as supporters can do nothing about team selection or weather conditions so we have to control what we can in order to try to win the second Test.

So I for one will be shouting, cheering and singing as loudly – and tunefully – as I possibly can and if all 25,000 of us travelling supporters join in then we certainly have a chance at making history.

So grab your song sheets, clear your throats and let's give the ABs a boot in Wellington this Saturday.

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