British & Irish Lions to play the Sharks again on Saturday
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DURBAN – It has already been dubbed the “tour like no other” and now the Britih & Irish Lions’ visit to South Africa has got a little crazier with the confirmation that there is to be a sequel to Wednesday night’s Lions’ match against the Sharks, on Saturday af Loftus Versfeld at 6pm.
The Lions vs the Sharks Take 2 will replace the Lions’ scheduled match against the Bulls, which had to be called off because of Covid cases in the ranks of the Bulls.
That had left the Lions short of a precious warm-up opportunity – they have only five build-up matches before the Test series begins on July 24 – so now playing the Sharks a second time is a case of necessity being the mother of invention.
The reasoning is that the Sharks are covid-free and they are still in Johannesburg, so strike while the iron is hot.
For the Sharks it will not only be shot at redemption after they were pummelled 54-7 but they will also go into the record books as the only provincial team to have played the Lions twice on a tour in over 100 years of history.
Hopefully for the Sharks’ supporters, they will make the most of this extremely rare opportunity to have a second bite at the cherry.
“The choice of the Sharks was dictated by the fact that they have been in a bubble, have returned negative tests throughout and were prepared to take on the fixture,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.
“No other team in the country could meet those conditions right now – without going into a five-day lockdown. It is not an ideal situation, but Covid-19 has made sure that we do not live in an ideal world.”
The change has meant that the Sharks’ match against the local Lions in the Carling Currie Cup on Saturday has been canceled with a decision on the points allocation to be confirmed.
“We’re very grateful to the Sharks for agreeing to play us,” said Ben Calveley, Managing Director for The British & Irish Lions.
“We have further Covid-19 testing scheduled for today and tomorrow. The results of those tests will determine whether we will be able to fulfill this fixture, but, as it stands, we are optimistic.
“We remain committed to the Tour in South Africa and determined to rise to the challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic.”
After playing the Sharks, the Lions move to the Cape where they have fixtures against the Stormers and South Africa A before the Test series begins.
It is understood that the second and third Tests will also be played in Cape Town instead of the scheduled return to highveld.