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Australia offers to host British and Irish Lions tour this summer

Australia has offered to host the British and Irish Lions series against South Africa this summer, after fears it could fall victim to cancellation due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan stated on Sunday that the country would be willing to stage the event, which was originally set to be hosted in South Africa where the Lions are due to play eight matches, including the three-Test series against the Springboks from July 3 in Cape Town.

As it stands, both Britain and South Africa are suffering from the detrimental impact of the variations of COVID-19 that has swept across the respective countries, putting pressure on whether the tournament will be allowed to take place. February has been scheduled as the deadline for reaching a decision on the event.

Australia has been commended throughout the past year for their handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to the successful staging of the Rugby Championship in November and December, renamed the Tri-Nations after South Africa withdrew as well as the Australian Open, set to start this month.

"I spoke to Jurie Roux, the CEO of South African Rugby, a few weeks ago and offered to host the tournament here, considering how dire the COVID situation is in the UK and South Africa," said McLennan.

"We learned through the Tri-Nations (that) our government can bring high-performance athletes into the country and safely quarantine them.

"Despite all the difficulties, we need to keep the world moving as best we can. So this was a lateral offer and solution to an issue those guys are facing."

"It would actually work because there are so many UK and South African residents and expats who live out here, so we could fill stadiums.

"They may choose to go somewhere else, but the offer is there."

Rugby Australia would be expected to cover costs if they are selected to host the series and any profits would go to the Lions and South Africa Rugby.

Author: Jake Wilkin