The British & Irish Lions have confirmed their revised schedule for the tour of South Africa this summer.
SA Rugby say they are planning for all eight games on the tour – three of which are Test matches – to be staged behind closed doors, but are “hopeful” that a lifting of local restrictions will allow at least some home fans to attend. All ticket holders for the original schedule will receive refunds.
The new schedule features one change of opposition, with the Johannesburg-based Emirates Lions – a Super Rugby team before the pandemic – stepping in for the tour opener in place of an SA Invitational Team, to reduce the spread of Covid.
There are major changes to the location of games, however. The tour will be based in two locations – Gauteng (Johannesburg and nearby Pretoria) and Cape Town.
The tour begins in Johannesburg with two matches at the city’s Ellis Park and one at Pretoria’s Loftus Versfeld, before switching to Cape Town for the final two tour matches and the first Test. The tour will then return to Johannesburg for the final two Tests, which will take place at Soccer City, which has a capacity of 95,000.
Before departing for South Africa, the Lions will have a training camp in Jersey and face Japan at Murrayfield.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has caused considerable disruption to the global sporting calendar, but after discussions with our partners at SA Rugby, we are very pleased to be able to give confirmation of the revised tour schedule,” said Ben Calveley, The British & Irish Lions Managing Director.
“While things will undoubtedly look different to a typical Lions Tour, together with SA Rugby we are determined to deliver an uninterrupted Series for the players who will take the field, as well as the many millions of people watching at home.
“We would like to thank all Lions supporters for their patience and understanding as we continue to navigate our way through the impact of the pandemic, and also extend our enormous gratitude to our commercial partners for their incredible ongoing support.”
British & Irish Lions tour schedule in full
Saturday 3 July: Emirates Lions v The British & Irish Lions (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg) 5pm BST
Wednesday 7 July: Cell C Sharks v The British & Irish Lions (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg) 9pm BST
Saturday 10 July: Vodacom Bulls v The British & Irish Lions (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria) 5pm BST
Wednesday 14 July: South Africa ‘A’ v The British & Irish Lions (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town) 9pm BST
Saturday 17 July: DHL Stormers v The British & Irish Lions (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town) 5pm BST
Saturday 24 July: Springboks v The British & Irish Lions (1st Test, Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town) 5pm BST
Saturday 31 July: Springboks v The British & Irish Lions (2nd Test, FNB Stadium, Johannesburg) 5pm BST
Saturday 7 Aug: Springboks v The British & Irish Lions (3rd Test, FNB Stadium, Johannesburg) 5pm BST