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British and Irish Lions Tour to South Africa 2021 news bites July 2020

July 31st, 2020Rugby
Vodaphone appointed lead sponsor for Lions Tour to South Africa 2021.

The British and Irish Lions announced the appointment of telecommunications group Vodafone as lead sponsor for next year’s tour of South Africa at the end of July.

Vodafone’s logo will be displayed on the Lions’ shirt fronts replacing predecessors Standard Investments, lead sponsors on the 2017 tour of New Zealand.

The deal also encompasses the supply of communications facilities to the touring party along with training and player performance technical support. According to public audit reports Standard Investments paid close to 6.25million GBP in sponsorship for the tour of New Zealand while HSBC paid up to 5 million for the 2013 tour of Australia. Industry sources say indications are that the Lions South Africa 2021 agreement is worth around 5.5 million GBP.

British & Irish Lions Managing Director Ben Calveley made the following comments in his press statement.

"Today’s announcement represents two iconic brands coming together. Along with supporting Warren and the team, Vodafone will also help to enhance the experience of Lions supporters through the very best technology and innovation,"

"The fans are a crucial aspect of any Lions tour and we will need to ensure they feel part of the team, to ignite their incredible support, if we are to overcome the World Champions.

"In Vodafone we have found a partner who shares our passion for connectivity, and we are delighted to have them on board to enhance the experience of the Lions fans across the world.”

British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland also applauded the tie-up with Vodafone.

“I am excited to welcome aboard Vodafone as team sponsor for the tour next summer. The key to a successful Lions Tour is about players coming together quickly and staying united behind one common goal…. to win a Test series against the World Champions in South Africa.

"I cannot think of a brand that knows more about bringing people together than Vodafone. I am sure they will play an important role in supporting the team on and off the pitch, as well as ensuring the Tour is a unique experience for all Lions supporters.”

A suitably apt endorsement I’d say for Lions fans to make sure of their tickets and tour travel packages by staying in touch with the experts at Expat Sport.

Is Maro Itoje ready to captain the British & Irish Lions in South Africa 2021?

There has been much talk of England lock Maro Itoje being tipped as Lions head coach, Warren Gatland’s choice to lead the tourists against the Springboks in summer 2021.

However, while a massive fan of the highly rated second row forward, former Bok Centre and English club Saracens’ coach, Brendan Venter does not believe that Itoje is ready to follow in the footsteps of a fellow lock, world cup winner Martin Johnson, who skippered the British and Irish Lions to victory in South Africa back in 2001.

Nevertheless, at only 25, Itoje has a pretty impressive record. He was the star of the Lions tour of New Zealand in 2017, starting in all three tests against the All Blacks, has 26 England caps and has made 119 appearances for Saracens since his English club debut six years ago.

Yet Ventner in a recent interview with Planet Rugby sees him as an asset that is better suited to pushing the team to prominence in other ways.

“Personally, I don’t think Maro is ready to be that leader yet.

“I think he has immense potential, he’s a good man.

“He has good values but I think it will be difficult for him, and Maro’s way is contributing to the team in so many other ways. If you take a young man and expect him to be a leader of the British and Irish Lions. I am not sure that makes sense.

“But you never know. He has another year to develop and you never know what will happen during that period.”

In terms of who he does favour in the captain’s berth, Venter would rather go with England captain and Itoje’s team mate at Saracens, Owen Farrell.

“Owen has been so successful, for Saracens and England, and he did well in New Zealand as well with the British and Irish Lions [2017]. Also because he is so experienced, I think Owen would be a good choice in the end, but if Warren Gatland decides to go with a majority of players from Wales, it could be someone else as captain.”

Despite his faith in Wales’ Sam Warburton as a Lions skipper, (youngest Lions captain at 24 against Australia in 2013 and leader again in New Zealand 2017), Gatland has already floated the idea that Maro Itoje is leading the field for this much coveted role. Answering a direct question in a June Rugby World interview, “Itoje is the name that keeps cropping up,” he replied.

The more we learn about the potential Lions line-up the more travelling fans are beginning to stir, make sure of your British and Irish Lions tickets and tour travel packages with Expat Sport.Official packages will go on sale on Wednesday 02 September.