SA Rugby and the Lions have announced a unique joint venture for the 2021 tour to South Africa – a behind the scenes documentary that will take viewers inside both teams’ camps. Traditionally, the Lions have done their own fly on the wall productions for these tours every four years in the professional era, the benchmark set with the 1997 Living With Lions documentary. 

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The productions since then have apparently not matched the commercial success of the original production 23 years ago, but a venture that will view the tour from both perspectives is now planned to breathe fresh creativity into the footage. 

Having drawn the 2017 Test series in New Zealand, Warren Gatland’s Lions will be facing a South Africa who were crowned World Cup winners last November and who are now coached by Jacques Nienaber.

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The joint documentary isn’t the only way that SA Rugby and Lions officials will be pooling their resources as the administrations have also agreed to work in a collaborative way in other aspects of their commercial offering. 

According to a statement, a more joined-up approach to CRM, digital and social content will provide more opportunities to engage with the global rugby fanbase, while there will also be coordinated ticketing, travel and hospitality programmes.

“The creation of the joint venture is an important milestone on our journey towards next year’s series against the Lions,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby. “Our partnership with the Lions is a good example of rugby’s northern and southern hemispheres working together to create greater benefits for both organisations.

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“I’m confident that this new more collaborative approach will help unlock new and increased revenues for South African rugby and the British and Irish Lions, which gets reinvested into the game, and look forward to working in close partnership between now and the Tour next year.”

Ben Calveley, the Lions managing director, added: “We are pleased to announce the formation of our new joint venture with SA Rugby; the first time a Lions tour has been approached in this way. A Lions Tour is a global sporting event and its continued commercial growth over the last decade has made it clear that a more collaborative, efficient and optimised structure was needed.

“Together with SA Rugby, this new approach will ensure that the 2021 Tour will reach new heights and avoid some of the inefficiencies we have experienced on previous tours. While the competition on the field of play is great, off the field we should aspire to work collaboratively to create a whole greater than the sum of the parts.”

It was confirmed earlier in the week that the Lions tour would go ahead as originally scheduled after organisers put to bed fears that the eight-match, three-Test trip might have to be rescheduled due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The tour kicks off on July 3 when the Lions face the Stormers in Cape Town, with the Test series getting underway on July 24 in Johannesburg. 

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