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Planning for British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa 2021 in top gear

June 24th, 2020Rugby
Planning for the British & Irish Lions’ tour of South Africa in 2021 has gone up through the gears, according to SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux speaking recently in Johannesburg. He went on to say that next year’s tour is the most important tournament in global rugby after the World Cup. In the overall scheme of world rugby, the primary goal is to ensure a true alignment of playing seasons across both the northern and southern hemispheres, with Test rugby scheduled to take place in March and April and again in October and November. As part of this post-pandemic renaissance, the Lions tour will definitely go ahead but could be moved from July and August to October and November.

 “I can talk about the British & Irish Lions for a really long time – after the Rugby World Cup it’s probably the biggest thing in rugby and we get the opportunity to play them only once every 12 years,” Roux said after it was confirmed the tour will still go ahead next year.

“The most important thing at this stage is that the tour is going on. There may be a date change, but we are able to manage that.”

With the Olympic Games, scheduled to take place in Tokyo this year, already postponed until 2021, many other big annual sporting events have either been shunted toward the backend of 2020, or completely cancelled.

Six Nations and SANZAAR, the body which oversees Super Rugby and The Rugby Championship competitions in Rugby Union released a joint statement, earlier in the year, revealing that discussions had begun amid the global crisis.

“Following the World Rugby meetings in March this year, SANZAAR and the Six Nations (“the Nations”) have been working closely over the lockdown period against a set of key principles between the parties, to develop and agree proposals for an aligned global calendar,” the statement read.

New Zealand club rugby, of course, is already in full swing, and several matches into an internal tournament, the Super Rugby Aotearoa, which kicked off on June 13th.

Obviously completely confident of the latest agreement in his pocket, SA Rugby’s ebullient chief executive went on to say:

“We’re very excited to welcome them to South Africa, but also about a completely different commercial model – we basically tore up the textbook and will share revenues, logos, IP and commercial value with the Lions.

“This is something that will come in very handy in a post-Covid world in terms of the revenues it will create for us, and it will also help us to operate as a going concern going forward.”

Given that the British Irish Lions tour of South Africa 2021 organisation is gathering pace it would seem advantageous to remind you not to forget to earmark your Lions tickets and tour packages well in advance.

Joel Stransky, a star of the Springbok team that won the Rugby World Cup in 1995, having moved north to play his club rugby at top English outfit Leicester Tigers, unfortunately missed out on a chance to play against the British & Irish Lions in 1997.

However, many of his Tigers teammates toured South Africa with the Lions in 1997, including England captain Martin Johnson, affording Stransky a unique understanding as to how “the other guys” see the tour.

Stransky made the following observations on a SA Rugby Podcast:

“Once every four years, players and fans from different nations come together, join hands, put their differences aside and combine as they try to beat one of the old foes from the Southern Hemisphere.

“The Lions are steeped in tradition, culture, respect and absolute loyalty to that magnificent red jersey – it can never be taken for granted or underestimated.

“Next year will be just magnificent – they will come here with a very strong squad and thousands and thousands of supporters will make the journey to enjoy our country and to be part of this great tour."

Roux described the planning process saying that he and his organising team had explored a variety of contingency plans:

“The development of the pandemic and its varying impact around the world has made for a fluid situation and we have had to be responsive in our planning.

“That means we have looked at a number of contingencies around scheduling.

“We have those scenarios in place, but the main question now is when it will be safe for international travel and for mass gatherings. It would be a disappointment if a Lions series had to be played behind closed doors, but that is not a scenario for which we are currently planning.”

Which makes it worth reiterating a wise move would be to register your interest in the British & Irish Lions’ tour of South Africa in 2021, with Expat Sport. Allow us to keep you right up to date and take all the work out of arranging those Lions match tickets and top class tour travel packages.