Inside the Lions Camp: ‘Live’ buildup to the Second Castle Lions Series Test Match

A Test Match Week is always a busy, intense, and nerve-wracking time. It’s the intersection between hard work, excitement and pressure which makes it so pressured but special at the same time.

However, all these feelings are magnified in a Lions Test Match Week, especially with a ‘live’ Series in progress. And it is ‘live’ which has been the theme of this week on and off the field.

A Test Week presents huge opportunities to capture the emotion and provide that unique window into the camp for both the hardcore and casual fans. On this tour, we have been particularly focused on building stories that appeal to younger fans and providing deeper opportunities to engage with the players and the tour itself.

Instagram and TikTok have been at the heart of this drive, with our primary focus being on using the platform features to showcase authentic windows into the world of the Lions.

We have partnered with TikTok to develop our content output and have been running a series of live broadcasts from inside the Lions camp. I have found myself acting as cameraman and presenter, which has been great fun, if not a little daunting at times with 30 minutes to fill.

On Wednesday, we did a live with Andre Moore, Lions Chef, delving into how he feeds the players, plans menus, the types of food and some of the Covid rulings among other things. This includes a cracking fact (not sorry) about using 2,500 eggs per week. It proved very popular with Andre a natural!

We followed that content by launching the #MyRugbyMoment challenge. This involved eight players all filmed saying what their #MyRugbyMoment was. Answers ranged from the international debut of Ken Owens, to Stuart Hogg and Hamish Watson beating England to Maro Itoje’s school memories. This is being promoted by TikTok and will be responded to by a series of influencers to amplify the series and encourage engagement.

On Friday, we went live again at the Captain’s Run as Luke Broadley, Press Officer, and I roamed around during the warm-up. We grabbed Warren Gatland for a brief chat, watched Wyn Jones do some shuttles and grabbed a few players whenever they were free. Taking questions as we went, we showed the dressing room and spoke to the backroom staff to provide an exclusive window into our environment.

Saturday was game day and a hat-trick of lives. The first was myself and Shane Whelan, Director of Digital, Marketing and Communications, as we met the team off the bus, toured the changing rooms, sat with the non-23 on the touchline and showed the start of the warm-up. The star turn here was Hamish Watson playing Clash of Clans on his phone, as he waited for the players to come out to warm-up. He was doing pretty well in fairness. This was followed up with a post-match live and a Q&A from Ugo Monye, a Lions Tourist in 2009.

The levels of engagement we are seeing on TikTok are proof the platform is here to stay and must become a robust part of any sport or brand’s strategy if they want to reach young fans. We saw first-hand the power of TikTok with one of our videos achieving a staggering 8m organic views in 2 days. This was because the player featured – Duhan van der Merwe – apparently resembles Jake Paul and JJ Parker from All American. Note to self: use Duhan in everything!

The players have Sunday off and then we’re ploughing into another colossal week with the series in the balance at 1-1. It’s the biggest week for the Lions for four years so it’ll be all hands on deck to produce some killer content.

Join me next week as we reflect on the tour and what we’re hoping will be a 2-1 victory…