The British & Irish Lions will play an eight-game tour of South Africa in 2021 which could see the largest number of spectators for a Lions Test series.
The Lions will tour all over the home of the current Rugby World Cup champions with three Tests against the Springboks being the highlight of the five-week tour.
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The two Tests in Johannesburg and one in Cape Town could see 205,000 fans watch the series. The record is just under 193,000 spectators who attended the 2013 Test series against the Wallabies. FNB Stadium in Johannesburg holds 88,000 and hosts the First Test on Saturday 24th July 2021. Cape Town Stadium hosts the Second Test, one week later, before the series wraps up at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday 7th August. The tour will see the Lions face Super Rugby teams DHL Stormers, Cell C Sharks and Vodacom Bulls as well as an invitational side and South Africa ‘A’.
Warren Gatland coached the Lions to a victory against the Wallabies (2013) and a draw against the All Blacks (2017). The tour against the current world champions will be tough, but Gatland is confident, “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”, said Gatland.
The Lions have toured South Africa on 13 occasions with four wins, eight losses and a draw. Head-to-head against the Springboks, the Lions have won 17, lose 23 with six draws.
With Lions tours coming around once a decade for the Springboks and being the world champions, the home side will be ready for the challenge. SA Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus explained, “Here are players who have been to three Rugby World Cups and finished their careers with a winner’s medal and yet never got to play against the Lions. 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.”
|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 14 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 (1st Test)||Springboks v British & Irish Lions||FNB Stadium, Johannesburg|
|Saturday 31 July (2nd Test)||Springboks v British & Irish Lions||Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town|
|Saturday 7 August (3rd Test)||Springboks v British & Irish Lions||Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg|