Lions confirm revised tour schedule in South Africa... and it's bad news for fans
The British and Irish Lions and South Africa Rugby have finally confirmed the revised fixtures list for July Castle Lager series. All eight tour matches will now be played in Gauteng or Cape Town to minimise risks of disruption by pandemic, the schedule accommodating stable team bases/training venues and significantly reduces travel.
The Lions, who announced their 37 players last week, will now kick off in Gauteng (rather than Cape Town) with three matches against provincial opposition before moving to Cape Town for two more warm-up matches before the first Test at Cape Town Stadium on July 24. The series then returns to Johannesburg for the second and third Tests at the FNB Stadium.
There is one team change in the revised schedule with the Emirates Lions replacing the SA Invitational team. The adjustment was made to reduce the risks associated with drawing a squad from around the country. SA Rugby is also disappointingly organising all games in the South African schedule on the basis they will take place behind closed doors.
The Lions Test match against Japan at Murrayfield on June 26 will continue as scheduled. However, owing to the uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic, a decision on crowd size will be made nearer the time of the event.
“The pandemic has caused considerable disruption to the global sporting calendar but after discussions with our partners at SA Rugby, we are very pleased to be able to give confirmation of the revised tour schedule,” said Ben Calveley, the Lions managing director.
“Do the tough stuff, get on with, it, use that anger…"
– Rejected Lions prop Kyle Sinckler wore his heart on his sleeve when he was interviewed on BT Sport following his man of the match display for Bristol at Bath??#BATvBRI #LionsRugby #Lions2021
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) May 8, 2021
“While things will undoubtedly look different to a typical Lions tour, together with SA Rugby we are determined to deliver an uninterrupted series for the players who will take the field, as well as the many millions of people watching at home. We would like to thank all Lions supporters for their patience and understanding as we continue to navigate our way through the impact of the pandemic, and also extend our enormous gratitude to our commercial partners for their incredible ongoing support.”
All ticket holders for the original schedule will receive a full refund. SA Rugby also confirmed that SA resident ticket holders would have the first right to purchase tickets for the revised schedule if restrictions on attendance at sports events were lifted.
“We’re delighted to be able to finally confirm the revised schedule after months of scenario planning and shifting circumstances,” said Jurie Roux, SA Rugby CEO. “It has been a challenging process with dozens of variables to consider but we believe we have arrived at a schedule that minimises the risks associated with the pandemic.
“We are hopeful that restrictions on attendance at sports events will be relaxed but, for the moment, we are planning for an event behind closed doors. If that requirement changes, then we’ll assess the options available and make the necessary decisions based on the restrictions in place… after all the uncertainty it’s a relief to be able to put a stake in the ground and confirm what the series will look like – I’m sure most of us can’t now wait for kick-off.”
2021 LIONS IN SOUTH AFRICA
- Saturday, July 3: Emirates Lions v British and Irish Lions (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg) KO 18h00 (SAT)/17h00 (BST)
- Wednesday, July 7: Cell C Sharks v British and Irish Lions (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg) KO 20h00 (SAT)/19h00 (BST)
- Saturday, July 10: Vodacom Bulls v British and Irish Lions (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria) KO 18h00 (SAT)/17h00 (BST)
- Wednesday, July 14: South Africa A v British and Irish Lions (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town) KO 20h00 (SAT)/19h00 (BST)
- Saturday, July 17: DHL Stormers v British and Irish Lions (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town) KO 18h00 (SAT)/17h00 (BST)
- Saturday, July 24: Springboks v British and Irish Lions (1st Test, Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town) KO 18h00 (SAT)/17h00 (BST)
- Saturday, July 31: Springboks v British and Irish Lions (2nd Test, FNB Stadium, Johannesburg) KO 18h00 (SAT)/17h00 (BST)
- Saturday, Aug 7: Springboks v British and Irish Lions (3rd Test, FNB Stadium, Johannesburg) KO 18h00 (SAT)/17h00 (BST)
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) May 12, 2021
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