Lions Down Under: 'Biggest disappointment' for Boks
INTERVIEW: South Africa wing Dillyn Leyds said staging this year’s British and Irish Lions tour in Australia rather than on home ground “would be the biggest disappointment” in the Springboks’ history.
Earlier this week Rugby Australia offered to host the eight matches scheduled between July 3 to August 7 as South Africa’s Covid-19 cases ballooned to more than 1.4 million, with almost 45 000 deaths.
“I would go as far as saying it would be the biggest disappointment in South African rugby history probably,” Leyds told AFP.
“If you put it into perspective. It’s the defending World Cup champions against the best the British and Irish have to offer. It’s a mouthwatering encounter,” he added.
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Leyds, 28, won the last of his 10 caps in 2019 and is eyeing an international return this June.
“The dream of wearing the Springboks jersey will never stop. As a little kid, growing up in South Africa, playing rugby, I don’t think there’s one person that would say they don’t want to play for the Springboks,” he said.
“There’s a bit of doubt over the Lions series, but it’s something I’m pushing hard for,” he added.
The wing joined French club La Rochelle this season after featuring for Western Province and the Stormers.
His coach on the Atlantic coast is former Ireland flyhalf Ronan O’Gara, who went on three Lions tours and conceded the winning penalty in the second Test of the 2009 tour against the Springboks.
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“I haven’t spoken to him about it. He’s gotten a bit too much stick for that over the years so I don’t think I’ll bring it up with him,” he said.
“Although one of the boys has mentioned it before. We had a quick laugh, but just a quick one, you don’t want to laugh too long about it because it might put your place in the team in jeopardy!”
On Thursday, World Rugby vice-chairman Bernard Laporte said a decision on July’s Test window, including the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa, will be made by the end of next month.
France are scheduled to head to Australia, Italy to New Zealand and the Lions to South Africa but the coronavirus pandemic has put the fixtures in doubt.
There have been loads of ideas surfacing on how to safe the tours including having the Southern hemisphere teams travel North.
Laporte opened the door to holding the eight-match tour set to run from July 3 to August 7 in the northern hemisphere.
“They might play in Europe and it would be a good thing,” he said.