Mark Alexander (Gallo Images)
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Media reports over the weekend on the UK’s Mirror’s website claimed that the 2021 Lions visit to South Africa, the first since 2009, was in doubt and could be cancelled because of Covid-19 enforced interruptions to World Rugby’s 2020 international calendar.
‘While we continue to look forward to an incredible Test series and tour against the British & Irish Lions in 2021, and there are no planned changes, it would be remiss of us not to explore various scenarios for a possible date change caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,’ a SA Rugby statement said.
The Lions 2021 tour, as it stands, will start on 3 July, 2021 in Cape Town against the Stormers and the final match will be the third Test against the Springboks in Johannesburg on 7 August, 2021.
If anything changes, based on the recovery period caused by Covid-19, it would be a slightly later start date.
Alexander, in dismissing media reports that the home unions would prioritise Tests over the Lions, emphasised the Lions were the second biggest occasion after the Rugby World Cup and that traditionally the home unions have always continued their tour commitments without those players selected for the Lions.
World Rugby is expected to next week confirm an amended international schedule, which is likely to see the 2020 July southern hemisphere internationals shifted to October, with the November northern hemisphere internationals to follow.