FILE - The British and Irish Lions on their 2017 tour of New Zealand. Photo: David Gray/Reuters
FILE - The British and Irish Lions on their 2017 tour of New Zealand. Photo: David Gray/Reuters

All eight British and Irish Lions tour matches to be played in Gauteng and Cape Town

By Wynona Louw Time of article published May 14, 2021

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CAPE TOWN – SA Rugby and the British & Irish Lions confirmed a revised Lions Series fixture list and venues on Friday.

The tour will see all eight matches be played in Gauteng and Cape to minimise the risks of disruption that could be caused by the pandemic.

Initially, the Series was scheduled to kick off in Cape Town with a warm-up game between the Stormers and British & Irish Lions on July 3, but Gauteng will now play host to the first game against the Lions, with three prep matches – against the Lions, Sharks and Bulls – to be played at Ellis Park and Loftus in total. In the revised schedule, the Lions replace the SA Invitational side to reduce the risks associated with drawing a squad from around the country.

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The Series will then move to the Mother City for two more warm-up matches, before the first Test at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday, July 24. The Series then returns to Johannesburg for the second and third Tests at the FNB Stadium.

“We’re delighted to be able to finally confirm the revised schedule after months of scenario planning and shifting circumstances,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.

“It has been a challenging process with dozens of variables to consider but we believe we have arrived at a schedule that minimises the risks associated with the pandemic.

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“We are hopeful that restrictions on attendance at sports events will be relaxed but, for the moment, we are planning for an event behind closed doors. If that requirement changes, then we’ll assess the options available and make the necessary decisions based on the restrictions in place.

“I would like to thank our supporters and commercial partners for their patience over these many months. This is not the \ Lions Series we imagined when we started our planning more than two and a half years ago but, in the circumstances, I think it is an exciting prospect.

“After all the uncertainty it’s a relief to be able to put a stake in the ground and confirm what the Series will look like – I’m sure most of us can’t now wait for kick off.”

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Roux said that the priority throughout had been to ensure the Series went ahead and he thanked the staffs of the unique joint venture (that was established to run the tour) for the hard work and sleepless nights they had endured to arrive at a workable solution.

“The scenarios changed on a weekly basis with options on three different continents workshopped and interrogated over the past few months to reach this point,” said Roux.

“Throughout we have had a single-minded goal to ensure the Series went ahead. The British & Irish Lions only visit our shores once every 12 years and to deny our players and our supporters the opportunity of sharing in the experience of what is invariably an event passes into folklore would have been a devastating blow.

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“We’re now ready to deliver the Series.”

SA Rugby also confirmed that All ticket holders for the original schedule will receive a full refund and that SA resident ticket holders would have first right to purchase tickets if restrictions are lifted and crowds are allowed at stadiums.

The full Lions Series 2021:

Saturday 3 July: Lions v The British & Irish Lions (Ellis Park, Johannesburg) KO 18h00 (SAT) / 17h00 (BST)

Wednesday 7 July: Sharks v The British & Irish Lions (Ellis Park, Johannesburg) KO 20h00 (SAT) / 19h00 (BST)

Saturday 10 July: Bulls v The British & Irish Lions (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria) KO 18h00 (SAT) / 17h00 (BST)

Wednesday 14 July: South Africa ‘A’ v The British & Irish Lions (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town) KO 20h00 (SAT) / 19h00 (BST)

Saturday 17 July: Stormers v The British & Irish Lions (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town) KO 18h00 (SAT) / 17h00 (BST)

Saturday 24 July: Springboks v The British & Irish Lions (1st Test, Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town) KO 18h00 (SAT) / 17h00 (BST)

Saturday 31 July: Springboks v The British & Irish Lions (2nd Test, FNB Stadium, Johannesburg) KO 18h00 (SAT) / 17h00 (BST)

Saturday 7 Aug: Springboks v The British & Irish Lions (3rd Test, FNB Stadium, Johannesburg) KO 18h00 (SAT) / 17h00 (BST)

@WynonaLouw

IOL Sport

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