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'You have to be joking': The possibility of a Lions tour hosted in Australia has divided pundits, players and fans alike

By Sam Smith
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Trending on RugbyPass

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Stephen Jones of the Sunday Times’ bombshell report that Australia has offered to host the 2021 Lions Tour with the Springboks has divided fans, ex-players and pundits.

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The series between the Lions and Springboks is under serious threat due to the current global pandemic which has seen both South Africa and the United Kingdom suffer widespread cases of the virus.

This has increased the likelihood that the matches would have to be played crowd-less in either country, which SARU have already declared impossible due to the financial ramifications that would bring.

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Wallabies coach Dave Rennie speaks to the media

According to The Times, Rugby Australia (RA) approached the RU about hosting the tour in Australia, with profits shared between the Lions and Springboks.

RA chair Hamish McLennan has confirmed to the Sydney Morning Herald that talks are underway, suggesting that the move would be a win-win situation for all involved.

The report was met equally by those vehemently opposed to the idea and those that see an Australian-hosted tour as a win-win way to host crowds and revenue-share back with the Springboks.

Former Wallaby James Horwill was in favour of the idea along with journalists Stuart Barnes & Paul Williams, but no common agreement could be made as those on the other side of the fence weighed in. Ex-Scotland international Jim Hamilton wrote ‘please no’ against the idea,

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Fans were equally divided over the proposal, with many sharing valid points for and against. Many fans felt that the ‘meaningful aspects of the tour’ would be missed, such as connecting with the local culture and the tradition of travelling fans.

A series hosted in Australia would likely only be attended by local Australians and ex-pats already living there, missing the ‘sea of red’ Lions fans that tour from the UK & Ireland.

Those in the opposed camp were prepared to scrap the tour altogether and postpone it until another time, which also isn’t feasible with future tours already scheduled for the home nations.

Wales captain and veteran of three Lions tours Alun Wyn Jones was adamant that delaying the tour was not an option.

“I think it needs to go ahead this year,” Jones said, speaking during Wednesday’s Guinness Six Nations virtual launch.

“The jury is out on where it will happen. We all know the jeopardy that it’s in. All being well, everyone will be safe and looked after if it does go ahead, for those guys selected.

“It would be a travesty if the fans weren’t able to go and see it.

Former Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus also earlier came out and said that they will explore every option for the tour to go ahead claiming they will ‘do whatever it takes’, signalling the upmost importance of the Lions tour to SA Rugby’s finances after a covid-impacted 2020 year.

“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.

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'You have to be joking': The possibility of a Lions tour hosted in Australia has divided pundits, players and fans alike

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