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It’s confirmed! British and Irish Lions Tour to South Africa 2021 goes ahead

July 30th, 2020Rugby

At last some news to warm the hearts of rugby fans the world over, the British and Irish Lions Tour of South Africa 2021 is to take place on the dates originally planned in spite of the coronavirus pandemic.

Understandably the vast majority of minds have been elsewhere since March, so as a reminder, the Lions are scheduled to tour South Africa next summer. With the first of their five warm-up matches due to kick off on the 3rd of July in advance of a three-Test series against the world cup winning Springboks, which runs from 24th July until 7th August. So please don’t forget to let the experts at Expat Sport keep you abreast of the latest information on British & Irish Lions South Africa tour 2021 tickets and tour packages.

Official Packages will go on sale on Wednesday 2 September.

However, one factor we don’t need reminding of is that the coronavirus pandemic has caused rugby union to pretty much seize up worldwide, other than a domestic tournament ongoing in an admirably virus-unscathed New Zealand. This is has been a crisis which threatened the game as never before. Leaving unions across the globe subject to enormous losses in revenue, forcing players to take pay cuts to offset the financial impact. 

Looking it from a Lions player’s point view, the game’s overall fixture pile-up includes the Six Nations as well as the English Premiership and European fixtures which have had to be postponed. Meanwhile, the PRO14 season, involving club sides from Ireland, Italy, Scotland, South Africa and Wales, was abandoned. Therefore, undoubtedly with the future of world rugby at stake, British & Irish Lions management have confirmed talks with the South African Rugby Union resulted in a decision that the tour will go ahead as planned in the original time window.

British & Irish Lions managing director, Ben Calveley commented on the decision to the media, saying:

“The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a lot of disruption to the sporting calendar, but after extensive discussions we are now able to confirm that the tour dates are as previously announced,”

“An enormous amount of planning, especially from a logistical perspective, goes into putting on a Lions series, so it was crucial that a decision was agreed upon in good time.

 “I am particularly pleased that we are able to provide some clarity for all those Lions supporters eager to travel to South Africa next summer.”

South Africa Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux went on to add:

“We’re delighted to confirm the Tour dates remain the same. The whole of South Africa is looking forward to welcoming the Lions and we continue progressing our plans to provide travelling supporters with a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” 

Nonetheless, the performance build up to the tour from a players' perspective will be intense. The PRO14 have set a provisional date of October 3rd as their start for the 2020/2021 season. However, given that the Lions squad is likely to include a number of English players, the schedule gets tighter still, assuming the 2020/21 English Premiership season gets underway as expected on 21st of November, and also that it is able to be completed as planned. In this case, English clubs will have just over seven months to cram in a full season, before the Premiership final on 26th of June. A mere two days later the Lions are set to depart for South Africa and prepare to play the Stormers that following weekend.

In terms of the pandemic, South Africa initially imposed a tough lockdown which restricted the number of coronavirus cases and associated deaths. The downside, experienced by nations across the world, has been a devastating impact on the economy. Having eased lockdown to try and revive the economic activity, the Rainbow Nation is now suffering dramatic infection rates nationwide, as a second wave of the virus takes hold. Moving President Cyril Ramaphosa to describe a huge increase in cases as, “the storm is upon us…… stretching our resources and our resolve to their limits”. Undoubtedly, The British and Irish Lions Tour to South Africa 2021 and its eager fans flocking to book tickets and tour packages as soon as possible will help offset the country’s economic woes.  

In terms of TV coverage it was also announced that Sky Sports had won the UK broadcast rights for the Lions tour, televising what will be their seventh series in a row. Fans will also be able to watch the games via pay to view streaming on NOW TV across both the UK and European Union countries. NOW carries the full spectrum of Sky Sports channels. Sky will show all eight games throughout July and August as the Lions take on the world champion Springboks on their third tour to South Africa. The Boks beat England 32 - 12 in last year’s World Cup final.

On learning that they had been awarded the UK Broadcast rights Rob Webster, Sky Sports Managing Director, commented:

“There are a handful of events in the sporting calendar that truly transcend their sport, and a Lions tour is one of them. It’s a moment in time, where the home nations come together to take on the best in the world.

“We’re hugely proud of our association with the Lions, and we’re looking forward to bringing our customers every twist and turn of what is sure to be a spectacular tour.”

So as spirits rise among rugby union lovers in both hemispheres, the ultimate sporting adventure is definitely up and running and you will no doubt be hot on the trail of British & Irish Lions Tour to South Africa 2021 ticket and travel packages. Let Expat Sport take the work out of the chase and ensure your attendance..