South Africa’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has ensured fans that the Springboks will do everything they can to play the British and Irish Lions.
Rumours have been swirling over the viability of the Lions tour to South Africa in recent weeks, with rising coronavirus cases in the UK, Ireland and South Africa putting the tour under threat.
Several alternatives have been discussed regarding the test series, with discussions reportedly underway about the prospect of playing games in Dublin, London, Cardiff and Edinburgh instead of South Africa.
🏆 High praise for the #CarlingCurrieCup teams from @RassieRugby
🗣️ “This season tested the coaches, players, management staff and the provincial unions in a variety of ways”
🔗 https://t.co/881QMCO5fh@blacklabelsa #TheChampionWithin #ReachForGold pic.twitter.com/vk9HdQ7zb4
— Springboks (@Springboks) January 18, 2021
While there have been no strong indications of what might happen as of yet, Erasmus has insisted that his team are willing to “go to option Z” to ensure the test series takes place.
“We desperately want to play the Lions, and we will do anything to play them. This series only comes around every 12 years.
“I have heard the different calls and opinions about the tour, and although we didn’t play in the Rugby Championship because of player welfare, it was also because we knew there was this big series in 2021.
“If option one of playing in South Africa doesn’t work out, we will go to option Z to make it happen. We don’t want to lose [out on playing] the Lions series, we feel we deserve to play against them.
“I want to, Jacques [Nienaber] wants to, the players want to, so from our side we’ll do anything,” Erasmus told SA Rugby Mag.
‘The frustration is unbelievable’
The Springboks haven’t played since their triumph against England in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final and only resumed their domestic season in October last year.
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) January 18, 2021
The cancellation or postponement of the Lions series would mean an even longer wait for South Africa to get back to international rugby, but the World Cup winning-coach indicated that they would be willing to move the tour to 2022.
“The frustration is unbelievable, but we know we can’t compare that to how devastating the impact of this pandemic has been, and how people have suffered.
“But, yes, we will explore any option to play the Lions, we will play next year, we will play over there. This is the view from a player and management perspective,” Erasmus said.