Springboks director of rugby Rassie Erasmus says they will “do anything” to play the British and Irish Lions amid ongoing uncertainty surrounding the scheduled summer tour. The Lions are due to tour South Africa in July and August but it looks increasingly unlikely that the tour can go ahead as originally planned due to the current situation in the country, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
A number of contingency plans have been floated, including the prospects of delaying the tour by a year or holding the games this summer in the UK and Ireland, where the vaccination process is at a more advanced stage.
And Erasmus says they are open to anything when in comes to making the tour happen, adding that the decision to withdraw from the 2020 Rugby Championship was made with one eye on the visit of the Lions.
“We desperately want to play the Lions, and we will do anything to play them,” he said.
“This series only comes around every 12 years. I have heard the different calls and opinions about the tour, and although we didn’t play in the Rugby Championship because of player welfare, it was also because we knew there was this big series in 2021.
“If option one of playing in South Africa doesn’t work out, we will go to option Z to make it happen. We don’t want to lose [out on playing] the Lions series, we feel we deserve to play against them.
“I want to, Jacques [Nienaber] wants to, the players want to, so from our side we’ll do anything.”
The Springboks haven’t played any Test rugby since winning the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
“The frustration is unbelievable [that the Boks haven’t been able to play since the World Cup], but we know we can’t compare that to how devastating the impact of this pandemic has been, and how people have suffered,” Erasmus added.
“But, yes, we will explore any option to play the Lions, we will play next year, we will play over there. This is the view from a player and management perspective.”
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