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Why playing the Lions in Australia 'would be the biggest disappointment in South African rugby history'

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Peter Heeger/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

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Springboks fullback Dillyn Leyds believes staging this year’s British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa in Australia “would be the biggest disappointment in South African rugby history”.

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Whether or not the tour will go ahead at all is still being discussed as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc in South Africa, where there have been nearly 1.5 million cases and over 45,000 deaths.

Earlier this week, Rugby Australia offered to host the tour as an alternative option to keep the eight-match series alive.

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However, Leyds, a 10-test fullback for the Springboks, said it would be a travesty if South Africa wasn’t able to host the tour.

“I would go as far as saying it would be the biggest disappointment in South African rugby history probably,” Leyds told AFP.

“If you put it into perspective. It’s the defending World Cup champions against the best the British and Irish have to offer. It’s a mouthwatering encounter.”

Leyds last played for the Springboks in the 2019 Rugby Championship against Argentina, just two months prior to their most recent match, their 2019 World Cup final victory over England.

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Despite COVID-19 denying both Leyds and the Springboks the chance of playing any test rugby in 2020, the 28-year-old is still targeting of a return to the international arena this year.

“The dream of wearing the Springboks jersey will never stop. As a little kid, growing up in South Africa, playing rugby, I don’t think there’s one person that would say they don’t want to play for the Springboks,” he said.

“There’s a bit of doubt over the Lions series, but it’s something I’m pushing hard for.”

The new La Rochelle signing would have stiff competition for places in the Springboks’ outside backs, with the likes of Cheslin Kolbe, Makazoli Mapimpi, Willie le Roux, Damian Willemse and Warrick Gelant all starring at the last World Cup.

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World Rugby vice-president Bernard Laporte has confirmed a decision on whether the Lions tour will go ahead will be made by the end of next month.

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Why playing the Lions in Australia 'would be the biggest disappointment in South African rugby history'

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