The British & Irish Lions in South Africa in 2021 is ON. It’s official, raves Mark Keohane.
The dates and venues all stay the same. Get ready to be rocked with rugby’s biggest carnival.
It is going to be epic and there isn’t a greater rugby experience in the modern game. For the Springboks, a test against the All Blacks is always something to aspire to, but what makes the Lions unique is that they only visit South Africa every 12 years.
World Rugby’s Player of the Year and Springbok World Cup winner Pieter-Steph du Toit recently told SA Rugby Magazine that the Lions in South Africa is bigger than the World Cup. He said a player could potentially play in three or four World Cup tournaments every four years, but as a Springbok the majority will only get one crack at the Lions in an international career. You win that and it lives with you forever. You lose the series and you don’t get a chance to right the wrongs.
South African players have stressed how important the 2021 Lions Series will be, more so after the Springboks’ World Cup success.
The Lions and South African Rugby on Wednesday confirmed the eight match tour will proceed as per the original dates and venues. It starts on July 3rd, against the Stormers in Cape Town, and ends with the third and final Test in Johannesburg on August 7th.
The British & Irish Lions in South Africa in 2021 will be the biggest sporting event in South Africa since Fifa’s 2010 Soccer World Cup and it will also be a visit that will revolutionise how rugby tours operate in the future.
The Lions won’t be a tour in the traditional sense but an élite global sporting event.
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The Lions in South Africa has always been about firsts. The first ever international Test series in rugby was the Lions against the Springboks in 1891. The Lions’ nickname was coined in South Africa in the 1924 visit. The first ever drawn Test series was between the Lions and the Springboks in 1955, and the first ever Lions team to go unbeaten on tour was in South Africa in 1974.
The first Lions professional tour was against the Springboks in 1997 and very little separates the two teams in 46 Tests, with the Springboks winning 23, the Lions 17 and the remaining six matches drawn.
Springboks World Cup-winning coach and SA Rugby’s National Teams Director Rassie Erasmus made his Test debut against the Lions in 1997. He has often spoken publicly of the importance to world rugby of the Lions and the privilege of any Springbok and South African player to be a part of a Lions visit.
‘The British & Irish Lions are very special and 2021 will be an incredible occasion. You have the best of four nations, three of whom were ranked number one prior to and during the World Cup, playing against the world champion Springboks,’ said Erasmus earlier in the year. ‘You also have five other matches, where South African players get a once in a career opportunity to play against the Lions. There are Springboks who have played in three World Cups and won the World Cup but who never got to experience playing against the Lions.’
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Full 2021 tour schedule:
– Saturday 3 July: British & Irish Lions v 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 Sharks – Kings Park, Durban
– Wednesday 14 July: British & Irish Lions v South Africa “A” Team – Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
– Saturday 17 July: British & Irish Lions v 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 – Ellis Park, Johannesburg