The Lions Tour to South Africa in July and August looks increasingly unlikely that the tour can continue as planned due to the worsening situation in the country.
South Africa’s Director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus insists the Springboks will do whatever it takes to make the Lions series happen – including playing in the UK and Ireland.
The pandemic has placed the tour’s original schedule in grave doubt, with a few contingency plans being looked at if it fails to take place in full stadiums in South Africa.
The options being examined are:
- To postpone it until next year
- Host it in the UK and Ireland
- Keep the existing itinerary but stage the matches behind closed doors
“We desperately want to play the Lions, and we will do anything to play them,” the World Cup-winning coach told an online press conference.
“This series only comes around every 12 years. I have heard the different calls and opinions about the tour, and although we didn’t play in the Rugby Championship because of player welfare, it was also because we knew there was this big series in 2021.
“If option one of playing in South Africa doesn’t work out, we will go to option Z to make it happen.
“We don’t want to lose out on the Lions series. Yes, we will explore any option to play the Lions – we will play next year, we will play over there. This is the view from a player and management perspective.” Erasmus said.
On the other hand, Ian McGeechan, who led the Lions as head coach on four occasions, says it could provide a major lift for rugby after a devastating 12 months.
“I do not think a postponement is ideal. In 2022, there will be only one year until the next World Cup and some nations have already agreed to summer tours. I would rather see it take place this summer, wherever that is.Ian McGeechan
“Ideally in South Africa, but we have to accept that health and safety come first. If it is impossible to stage the tour there, or they cannot do so with fans – a possibility that has previously been deemed “commercially unviable” by the chief executive of South Africa Rugby – and we can do so safely here, I would be happy with that.
“Some people may consider that sacrilege; a betrayal of 140 years of touring. The Lions are the greatest tourists on earth, they will say. I agree, they are. But we have not had a global pandemic like this for more than 100 years, either.
“We have to keep an open mind. The Lions have played on home soil before. Why not again? It would be different. But it would still be special.”
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