Former Springboks head coach Peter de Villiers has implored the Lions to travel to South Africa, as the series will bring a much-needed boost to the local economy.
The British and Irish Lions are currently exploring other options for their test series with South Africa due to complications caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
One of those options is to move the test series to the UK and Ireland, as they will be more likely to have coronavirus cases under control by this summer.
— Peter de Villiers (@CoachPdV) January 25, 2021
Peter de Villiers urges the Lions to travel to South Africa.
De Villiers, who coached the Springboks for the Lions series in 2009, believes that the tour most take place in South Africa in either 2021 or 2022 as South Africa is in desperate need of “immeasurable amounts of money”.
“The Lions bring an aura that can’t be matched,” he said.
Whilst on tour, they travel the country, they hold coaching clinics in communities, schools and townships, they fill stadiums and pump immeasurable amounts of money into a crippling economy that in 2021 or in 2022, we can ill-afford losing out on.
“I know of a numerous amount of UK charities and tour operators who donate to South African charities and projects that will not be able to do so should this tour not go ahead here in South Africa.
“The chance to have a social impact in a country that is so desperate for it will be lost.
“My biggest fear is that if they do move the tour to the UK, they will be doing it to appease sponsors and commercial obligations rather than rugby reasons and that would not sit well with me,” De Villiers wrote.
Issues with rescheduling the tour.
Rescheduling the Lions tour to South Africa to next year would present several problems for the rugby calendar in 2022, with Ireland set to face New Zealand in a Test series while England are due to travel to Australia.
Rescheduling to 2022 would likely allow the most normality for a Lions tour, but the four unions of Britain and Ireland would take some convincing to release their players for the summer.