(SATSports) – The fixtures list for the much-anticipated British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa between July and August has been confirmed, SA Rugby and the Lions announced on Friday.
A joint statement from SA Rugby and the Lions said all eight matches of the Tour will be played in either Gauteng or Cape Town without fans to reduce the risks of disruptions that may arise due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Castle Lager Lions Series will now kick off in Gauteng (rather than Cape Town) with three matches against provincial opposition before moving to Cape Town for two more warm-up matches before the first Test at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday 24 July,” the statement said.
“The Series then returns to Johannesburg for the second and third Tests at the FNB Stadium.”
The statement added that the Emirates Lions, one of the four main South African rugby franchises will take on the tourists replacing the South Africa invitational side.
“The adjustment was made to reduce the risks associated with drawing a squad from around the country.”
Lions managing director Ben Calveley said both parties were happy to be able to give confirmation of the revised tour schedule.
“While things will undoubtedly look different to a typical Lions tour, together with SA Rugby we are determined to deliver an uninterrupted Series for the players who will take the field, as well as the many millions of people watching at home,” Calveley said.
SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said organisers are planning for the tour to be played without fans but they remained hopeful restrictions on attendance at sports events will be relaxed.
“If that requirement changes, then we’ll assess the options available and make the necessary decisions based on the restrictions in place,” Roux said.
The Lions’ schedule begins with a game against Japan at Murrayfield on June 26. They will then travel to South Africa where they will first play the Emirates Lions on July 3 and then face the Cell C Sharks (July 7), the Vodacom Bulls (July 10), South Africa ‘A’ (July 14) and finally the DHL Stormers (July 17) before playing the World champions on July 24 in Cape Town.
The Lions will then travel to Johannesburg for the second and third Tests against the Springboks at the FNB Stadium on July 31 and August 7.