The twists and turns regarding the Lions and their 2021 Test series with the Springboks are continuing, the latest claim being that the tour will now proceed as planned in South Africa rather than get staged in Britain as was recently suggested.
Speculation about the Lions and about what to do next July has been never-ending in recent months. There was even an eventually declined offer from Rugby Australia to host the Lions-Springboks series there.
It had hosted the Tri-Nations last November and there were no restrictions on crowds being able to attend, something that could not be guaranteed if the tour went ahead in South Africa or the UK.
The speculation in recent weeks was that the Lions were leaning towards staging the tour in Britain, with even a revised fixtures schedule doing the rounds that included not only the already planned warm-up Test against Japan at Murrayfield but also a game versus the USA. It further hinted that the Test series versus the Springboks would be over four matches, not three.
With the UK set to trial the return of crowds to sports events in the near future, it was reported that Lions officials were sounding out the government on whether they might be financially inclined to support the tour being staged at venues such as Twickenham, Cardiff and so on.
LIONS SQUAD: After a seismic Guinness Six Nations, Josh Raisey ??? tries to predict the full, 41-man squad that @lionsofficial kingpin Warren Gatland is likely to name this May. https://t.co/6Ob8ZjXkIW
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 22, 2021
Now, though, and in keeping with the ever-changing pattern of speculation surrounding the Lions, it is being reported that the tour is set to go ahead as originally planned in South Africa, a three-game Test series as well as five other matches in the southern hemisphere.
A speculative UK Telegraph report on Tuesday read: “It is understood the widely-publicised contingency plan of relocating the eight-match tour to the UK and Ireland has been dismissed by the Lions board, owing to time, logistics and expense.
“There is still uncertainty about whether crowds will be permitted to attend matches in July and August. Talks are taking place with the South Africa Rugby to finalise details and address the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic. An official announcement is expected within the next 48 hours.
“Even if the matches have to be played behind closed doors, the decision to proceed would offer the least risky financial option as all the contracts are in place and broadcasters Sky Sports told the Lions board in January that was their preferred option.”
"The error was maybe not making an early realisation that some guys would just be off form through lack of rugby"https://t.co/1RsbcSPzZ2
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 23, 2021
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now