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Lions to go ahead with planned summer tour in South Africa

The British and Irish Lions will move forward with their original plans of playing the summer tour in South Africa after the alternative destination suggestions were ruled out.

Lions to go ahead with planned summer tour in South Africa

A joint statement was released, detailing that the event would still be staged in South Africa, however, it is believed that the number of games will be reduced and so too will the number of city destinations.

Lions board member Bill Sweeney stated that there was simply not enough time to organise the event to be held in the UK and that it could not be postponed to 2022.

Australia had offered to host the tour but this had already been rejected.

Their are fears that a third wave could still be on the horizon in South Africa, which casts doubts over whether fans will be able to attend the matches, or if the competition will be cancelled altogether.

“It was always the preference to be able to honour and go ahead with the tour in South Africa,” Sweeney said. “You would always want it to be with crowds rather than behind closed doors because that would be a different environment.

“But things change quickly. Who knows? Is it possible that we will get crowds there? “We’re running out of time for a UK option, frankly. The days are ticking by. it could have been a very, very good fallback option.

“One of the hardest things in life, not just in rugby, is changing the rugby calendar. It was just felt that the postponement option was extremely difficult to pull off.”

South Africa Rugby president Mark Alexander would not be drawn on whether the competition would definitely go ahead.

"We have been in regular contact with our government to make that a reality against the backdrop of the pandemic and its predicted progression over the coming months," Alexander explained.

"There are serious financial implications for SA Rugby should the event take place without any supporters in attendance, and we cannot ignore that in our considerations.

"But we are determined that the eventual outcome will deliver the best occasion and experience for players, supporters and our commercial partners."

Author: Jake Wilkin