British and Irish Lions South Africa series could be played in UK & Ireland

The Lions are due to play their first game in South Africa in July.

The UK and Ireland may host the British and Irish Lions‘ series with South Africa later this year if fans are unable to travel to the games due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the BBC, the Lions’ board is discussing the prospect of playing games in Edinburgh, Cardiff, London and Dublin.

Both the Lions’ board and South African rugby union are reportedly keen to avoid playing the tour without fans.

There is hope that a Covid-19 vaccine would allow supporters to attend games in the UK and Ireland by the time the series begins in July.

The Lions are due to face Japan in a warm-up match at Murrayfield on June 26 before flying to South Africa.

Warren Gatland’s side are scheduled to play five provincial games between July 3 and July 17 before beginning their three-match series against South Africa in Johannesburg on July 24.

The two other Tests are pencilled in for July 31 and August 7 in Cape Town and Johannesburg respectively.

As part of the contingency plan to play the series in the UK and Ireland, Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, as well as Twickenham and Wembley in London, are likely to host the Tests against the Springboks.

‘We are very aware of the need to make a timely decision.’

That would mean Dublin and Edinburgh would be likely to stage the provincial games.

“We are making plans on the latest information available to us,” Lions managing director, Ben Calveley, said on Saturday while providing an update on this year’s tour.

“Given the uncertainty that continues to be caused by the pandemic in both South Africa as well as the UK and Ireland, we are very aware of the need to make a timely decision on the best way forward.

“Not least so that we can provide clarity to supporters booked to travel to South Africa or those thinking of making the trip.

“The Lions’ board has had repeated meetings to discuss all scenarios available and is in constant dialogue.

“It will meet throughout January and into February, if required, to review all relevant information and data.”

The Lions drew their last series 1-1 with New Zealand in 2017 and lost 2-1 to the Springboks on their last tour of South Africa in 2009.

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