June 14, 2021

Lions tour organisers optimistic over fans being at games

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“There are lots of reasons to be optimistic. We have seen that sport has returned at the elite level around the world.”

Last Updated: 21/10/20 4:46pm

The British & Irish Lions play on home soil for the first time since facing Argentina in Cardiff 15 years ago when they host Japan in Edinburgh in June The British & Irish Lions play on home soil for the first time since facing Argentina in Cardiff 15 years ago when they host Japan in Edinburgh in June

The British & Irish Lions play on home soil for the first time since facing Argentina in Cardiff 15 years ago when they host Japan in Edinburgh in June

The interest in the British and Irish Lions 2021 South Africa tour is “off the scale” and organisers remain optimistic that fans will be in the stadiums, according to managing director Ben Calveley.

The Lions will play Japan at Murrayfield next summer in a warm-up Test match ahead of the series against the Springboks.

The confirmed June 26 date is the same day as next season’s Gallagher Premiership final, a week before the Lions’ tour opener in Cape Town, and will be subject to any Covid-19 restrictions which may be in place at the time.

Calveley, though, feels the Lions should remain “optimistic” over the prospect of being able to give fans a chance to watch what would be a first Test appearance on British or Irish soil since playing Argentina in Cardiff 15 years ago.

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The 2021 Lions Tour will be shown exclusively live on Sky Sports

The 2021 Lions Tour will be shown exclusively live on Sky Sports

“What is clear is that the interest in the Lions is off the scale, it is considerably higher than we have seen for previous tours,” Calveley said.

“Our approach is to focus on ‘Plan A’, which is working in partnership with the South African Rugby Union to make sure we are ready to deal with whatever Covid environment we find ourselves in next summer.

“The reality is nobody can tell me with absolute certainty what the situation will be, so as a responsible organisation, we are contingency planning in the background so we are ready to deal with various scenarios.

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The British & Irish Lions ultimately lost the 2001 series against Australia but in the first test they delivered arguably their greatest ever performance

The British & Irish Lions ultimately lost the 2001 series against Australia but in the first test they delivered arguably their greatest ever performance

“There are lots of reasons to be optimistic. We have seen that sport has returned at the elite level around the world.

“In some countries we are seeing fans return into venues, we are seeing technology improve all the time, whether that is around testing capability or treatment for the virus and we are seeing borders open.

“South Africa’s borders opened on October 1 and there are lots of sporting events happening, particularly in South Africa, between now and the (Lions) tour, so there are lots of opportunities for us to learn.”

Sky Sports will exclusively show the British & Irish Lions’ three-Test series against the Springboks in South Africa in 2021, as well as their five warm-up matches.