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British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland © AFP/File PETER PARKS

Rugby

Lions tour of South Africa to go ahead as planned in 2021

LONDON, United Kingdom, Jul 15 – The British and Irish Lions’ tour to South Africa in 2021 is to set to go ahead as scheduled, it was announced on Wednesday.

Warren Gatland’s team will play the opening game of their eight-match tour when they face Stormers at Cape Town Stadium on July 3, with the first of the three Tests against the world-champion Springboks taking place at Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium three weeks later.

The second Test is scheduled for July 31 at the Cape Town venue and the third for August 7, back in Johannesburg at Emirates Airline Park.

Lions managing director Ben Calveley said in a statement: “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.”

Gatland said: “Lions Tours are always unique, but to take on the world champions in their backyard will be something very special.

“Having toured there in 2009 I know the scale of the task ahead of us — playing in South Africa presents a number of unique challenges such as playing at altitude, while the Boks will always be physical, aggressive and highly motivated.

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“History tells you it’s a tough place to tour, but I am confident that we can go there and win.”

Jurie Roux, chief executive of SA Rugby, added: “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.”

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