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British and Irish Lions 2021 tour to South Africa to go ahead

British and Irish Lions 2021 tour to South Africa to go ahead
© Reuters
Warren Gatland's team will play the first Test in Johannesburg on July 24, 2021.

The British and Irish Lions' tour to South Africa next summer is to go ahead as scheduled, it has been announced.

Warren Gatland's Lions will play the opening match of their eight-fixture 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.

Warren Gatland is taking charge of the Lions for a third time (David Davies/PA).
Warren Gatland is taking charge of the Lions for a third time (David Davies/PA).

"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.

"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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