Football, cricket, rugby union, tennis and horse racing have all been affected so far.
Lions Tour 2021 fixtures in South Africa: Match dates, times and TV schedule The Lions will tour without an England coach for the first time since 1997 as Warren Gatland reverts to tried-and-trusted options for the series against South Africa. After England won eight straight games in 2020, defence coach John Mitchell and forwards coach Matt Proudfoot were prominent contenders for a place in Gatland’s set-up. However, both Proudfoot - who coached the Springboks in the 2019 World Cup - and Mitchell’s chances seem to have fallen in sync with England’s downturn. In the recent Six Nations, England lost to the three home nations for the first time since 1976, the set-piece struggled while they conceded a record total of points in defence. As Telegraph Sport first reported last month, Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend will come on board as attack coach after he was blocked by the Scottish Rugby Union from joining Gatland’s coaching ticket four years ago. Andy Farrell, the Ireland head coach, is likely to reprise his role as defence coach from the 2017 tour to New Zealand, although that appointment is yet to be fully rubber-stamped. Sir Ian McGeechan: The Lions 'bolter' - here is who I would select this summer In a further repeat of the drawn series against the All Blacks, Neil Jenkins (kicking), Graham Rowntree (scrum) and Leicester head coach Steve Borthwick (forwards) are set to come on board again. The appointments are expected to be announced at the start of next week. While there is likely to be a large English presence in the form of Farrell, Rowntree and Borthwick, Gatland has opted not to recruit from an England coaching team that oversaw a fifth-place finish in the Guinness Six Nations Championship. This could, in turn, have an effect on English-player representation in the 36-man squad that is set to be announced in early May. Previous marginal Lions selections have been heavily influenced by the sway of the assistant coaches and Townsend’s appointment could help tilt the balance towards Scots, such as fly-half Finn Russell. The Rugby Football Union did not comment on reports that it would not sanction the release of its assistant coaches, although Eddie Jones indicated last December that he would welcome their involvement. “If we felt there was a chance for them to grow as a coaching staff,” Jones said. “We saw the benefits of it with Steve Borthwick going on the Lions tour in 2017 and coming back having added more to his coaching repertoire. We are open to any opportunity for our staff and coaches to grow. We will wait and see.” There is still some uncertainty over Farrell’s involvement, with Ireland scheduled for a Pacific Islands tour, but indications are that he will join one of the most experienced Lions coaching teams ever assembled.
The Australian Christian Lobby has launched a media campaign calling for international rugby player Israel Folau to be allowed to return to the National Rugby League (NRL). Folau, who has played all three of Australia's major oval ball codes professionally, was sacked by Rugby Australia in 2019 over social media posts deemed homophobic by the rugby union governing body. A return to the NRL with the St George Illawarra Dragons was scuppered in February after news of negotiations sparked a backlash from LGBT rights groups, some fans and sponsors.