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Wed, 4 Dec 2019

British & Irish Lions’ Itinerary for 2021 Tour of South Africa

The British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa in 2021 will span the length and breadth of South Africa, visiting some of the most impressive stadiums in world sport and culminating in three Test matches against the newly-crowned Rugby World Cup champions, the Springboks.

FNB Stadium in Johannesburg will host the first Test on Saturday, 24 July and with a capacity of approximately 88,000 spectators, a sell-out crowd would be higher than the 84,188 who witnessed the series decider against the Wallabies in 2001.

The second Test follows a week later at the Cape Town Stadium – the first Lions Test in the Mother City since 1997 – before the British tourists return to Gauteng for the final Test on Saturday, 7 August at Emirates Airline Park.

British & Irish Lions in action against The Barbarians in Hong Kong in 2013. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com Click to enlarge.

The combined capacity for the three Test venues is just below 205,000, which could make the three Tests on the 2021 tour the best- attended since professionalism, potentially surpassing the 192,972 people who attended the three Tests in Australia in 2013.

The eight-game schedule includes six weekend fixtures; three against Vodacom Super Rugby teams the Vodacom Bulls, Cell C Sharks and DHL Stormers, and two midweek fixtures against an invitational side in Port Elizabeth and South Africa ‘A’ in Nelspruit.

British & Irish Lions head coach, Warren Gatland, said he was delighted with an itinerary that he believes will allow his side to be perfectly prepared for the three Test matches which complete the Tour.

“I am absolutely thrilled with how this schedule looks,” said Gatland, whose Lions beat Australia in 2013 and drew the series with New Zealand in 2017. “Touring South Africa is always a huge challenge, not only from a rugby perspective, but also in terms of the venues and the conditions facing the players. We are very comfortable that three of the games, two of which are Test matches, will be played at altitude. Our schedule falls in a way to allow us to start at sea level before building up and acclimatising to the unique environment that playing at altitude presents. Ensuring the team are absolutely primed for the Test matches is a critical element of any Lions Tour, and I am confident the quality of opposition we will face in the opening weeks will get us ready to take on the Springboks. The Bulls, Sharks and Stormers are all tough sides and present different challenges, which is exactly what we want. Moreover, the venues we have agreed – some of which will be new to the Lions – open up the matches to a vast audience and will undoubtedly provide an unforgettable experience for the players and travelling supporters alike. We are very much looking forward to touring this wonderful country.”

The legend, Alun Wyn Jones scoring a try for the British & Irish Lions against The Barbarians in Hong Kong in 2013. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com Click to enlarge.

The British & Irish Lions have toured South Africa 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 drew one. Their overall record against the Springboks is played 46, won 17, lost 23 and drawn six.

Rassie Erasmus, SA Director of Rugby, said the keenly-awaited Tour was a once-in-a-lifetime playing opportunity for South African players.

“There are players who have been to three Rugby World Cups an finished their careers with a winner’s medal yet never got to play against the Lions,” said Erasmus. “They only come around every 12 years for our players and only a few of them ever have the privilege of wearing the Springbok jersey in a Lions series. The Lions have not lost a series since they were last here a decade ago and they will present a next-level challenge in 18 months’ time. Warren Gatland is a massively experienced and astute coach with a phenomenal record with the Lions and the rugby experience for our players and public will rival that of a Rugby World Cup. The Lions performed extremely well on their previous two tours [in Australia and New Zealand] and will no doubt relish the opportunity to add the Springboks’ scalp to their belt. They will operate like a well-oiled machine and we will have to work very hard to match them in every department, on and off the field.”

Full British & Irish Lions Tour of South Africa 2021 Schedule

Saturday, 3 July: British & Irish Lions v DHL Stormers – Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town

Wednesday, 7 July: British & Irish Lions v South Africa ‘Invitational’ – Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth

Saturday, 10 July: British & Irish Lions v Cell C Sharks – Jonsson Kings Park, Durban

Wednesday, 14 July: British & Irish Lions v South Africa ‘A’ Team – Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit

Saturday, 17 July: British & Irish Lions v Vodacom Bulls – Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria

Saturday, 24 July (first Test): Springboks v British & Irish Lions – FNB Stadium, Johannesburg

Saturday, 31 July (second Test): Springboks v British & Irish Lions – Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town

Saturday, 7 August (third Test): Springboks v British & Irish Lions – Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg.

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