Lions players line up before a match againt the All Blacks in this June 24 2017 file photo. Picture: REUTERS/David Gray
Lions players line up before a match againt the All Blacks in this June 24 2017 file photo. Picture: REUTERS/David Gray

Just under a year before its scheduled kickoff‚ the dates of the British and Irish Lions tour to SA have been confirmed.

Despite uncertainty about scheduling‚ due in part to Covid-19‚ the eight-match tour will kick off on July 3 2021 when the tourists play the Stormers in Cape Town.

Three weeks later, the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg will host the first Test‚ with the second to be played in Cape Town on  July 31‚ before the tour concludes in Johannesburg with the third Test at Ellis Park a week later.

The Lions Test in Cape Town will be the first there since their tour of 1997 and the first time that the Lions play at Cape Town Stadium. The FNB Stadium in Johannesburg will also host the Lions for a Test for the first time.

“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‚” said Ben Calveley‚ MD of the British and Irish Lions.

There had also been talk of dates shifting as part of World Rugby’s push for the introduction of a global calendar, but that is on the back burner for now.

“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‚” said Calveley.

“I am particularly pleased that we are able to provide some clarity for all those Lions supporters eager to travel to SA next [European] summer.”

The British and Irish Lions have toured SA on 13 previous occasions‚ with the first tour taking place in 1891. In that time‚ the Lions have won four Test series‚ lost eight and drawn one. Their overall record against the Springboks is played 46‚ won 17‚ lost 23 and drawn six.

On their last tour in 2009, the Springboks won the highly competitive and captivating series 2-1.

“We’re delighted to confirm the tour dates remain the same‚” said SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux.

“The whole of SA is looking forward to welcoming the Lions and we continue progressing our plans to provide travelling supporters with a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Full schedule:

Saturday 3 July: Lions vs Stormers — Cape Town Stadium‚ Cape Town.

Wednesday 7 July: Lions vs SA Invitational — Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium‚ Port Elizabeth.

Saturday 10 July: Lions vs Sharks — Kings Park‚ Durban.

Wednesday 14 July: Lions vs SA A  — Mbombela Stadium‚ Nelspruit.

Saturday 17 July: Lions vs Bulls — Loftus Versfeld‚ Pretoria.

Saturday 24 July (first Test): SA vs Lions — FNB Stadium‚ Johannesburg.

Saturday 31 July (second Test): SA vs  Lions — Cape Town Stadium‚ Cape Town.

Saturday 7 August (third Test): SA vs Lions — Ellis Park‚ Johannesburg.

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