Australia offers to host Lions series with South Africa

Lions

Rugby Australia boss Hamish McLennan has offered to host the Lions series with South Africa down under, as crowds would be permitted to attend matches.

There has been much speculation in recent weeks about how the British and Irish Lions series with Springboks will go ahead, due to the high number of coronavirus cases in the UK, Ireland and South Africa.

Alternatives included relocating the series to the UK and Ireland, or rescheduling the tour until 2022, but rugby officials in Australia have offered a third feasible option.

McLennan confirmed that he had made the offer to The Sydney Morning Herald, saying that the Lions and Springboks would share the profits from the three-test series, while Australia would only take enough cash to cover the cost of hosting the series.

“Ultimately it’s their call. What we learnt from the Tri-Nations last year and the tennis that’s happening now is that Australia can successfully stage global tournaments in a COVID world.

“It’s particularly tough in the UK and South Africa at the moment and I believe the more international rugby that gets played here, the better. We’re here to help.

“We’ll cover our costs but it continues to put rugby front and centre and we’ll be helping our member union friends out along the way. The more world-class rugby that’s played in Australia, the better for the code,” McLennan said.

‘I’m sure we would get a fantastic turnout.’

While McLennan stated that the Wallabies would not be playing the Lions, the Australian Super Rugby sides could provide the touring side with warm-up games for their test series.

Australia don’t stand to profit from hosting the Lions series. But they are interested in hosting the 2027 Rugby World Cup, and would likely secure the votes of the English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh and South African unions in the bidding process if they provide them with profits from the tour.

While tourists from the UK, Ireland and South Africa would not be allowed to travel to Australia in significant numbers, there is a high amount of British, Irish and South African ex-pats in the country, especially Perth.

“There is a multi-generational ex-pat community for both South Africa and the UK out here.

“I’m confident there would be great patronage for the tests. Remember, they are some of our biggest communities in Australia. I’m sure we would get a fantastic turnout,” McLennan commented.

While rugby chiefs would need to get approval from the Australian government to bring overseas athletes to the country, the offer is the only option that would realistically allow fans to attend Lions matches.

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