The Stormers will play the British & Irish Lions in the first ever international rugby match at the Cape Town Stadium in 2021, writes Mark Keohane on IOL Sport.
John Dobson’s Stormers will open the visitors eight match rugby extravaganza of South Africa on the 3rd July, 2021.
The tourists will play five successive matches against two combined teams and three of South Africa’s four Super Rugby franchises in the Stormers, Sharks and Bulls and, in a departure from the norm, will then enter into a three-Test series without the added pressure of midweek fixtures.
British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland described the itinerary as ideal and relished playing two of the three Test matches at altitude.
The opening Test match will be at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg. The Stadium has hosted the All Blacks and was also the venue of FIFA’s 2010 Soccer World Cup final.
Gauteng, with three matches, and Cape Town, with two matches, dominate the schedule to maximise the commercial realities of a rugby event that is second only to the World Cup.
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.
“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,” said Gatland. “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.”
Gatland, who coached Wales for 12 years, was in charge of the team beaten by the Springboks in the World Cup semi-finals and he has already targeted the visit as one of revenge for those Welsh and English players downed by the world champion Springboks.
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 drawn one. Their overall record against the Springboks is played 46, won 17, lost 23 and drawn six.
Full 2021 British & Irish Lions schedule:
- Saturday 3 July: British & Irish Lions v DHL Stormers – Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
- Wednesday 7 July: British & Irish Lions v SA ‘Invitational’ – Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
- Saturday 10 July: British & Irish Lions v Cell C Sharks – Jonsson Kings Park, Durban
- Wednesday 13 July: British & Irish Lions v South Africa ‘A’ – 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