The British and Irish Lions’ summer tour to South Africa is now likely to take place as originally scheduled after Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney insisted discussions with the hosts are at an advanced stage.
Sweeney revealed that the preferred contingency plan of staging the tour in the UK appears increasingly unviable.
“We’re running out of time for a UK option, frankly. The days are ticking by,” Sweeney said.
“The preferred position has always been to go to South Africa and play in South Africa, either with crowds or behind closed doors.
“We’re in a critical dialogue to confirm what they’re capable of doing around the Lions going to South Africa.”
The Lions board turned down an offer from Australia to stage the tour earlier this month.
Sweeney added: “The Lions board has been meeting pretty much weekly for some time now.
“It’s not completely finalised yet. There was a possible Australian option which has gone away.”
Sweeney indicated that if South Africa are unable to host the Lions tour then it will be cancelled.