De Villiers: Moving Lions tour will cost SA in many ways
MOVING TOUR: Peter de Villiers, Springbok coach in 2009 when the Springboks won the series against the British and Irish Lions, is extremely concerned that the increasing calls for the tour to be moved to the UK will become reality.
The former national coach has shared his thoughts about the ongoing discussion regarding the 2021 tour and the possibility that it will be moved in a twitter post.
De Villiers feels strongly about this possibility. In his twitter post he mentions the 2008 tour when the Springboks beat Wales, Scotland and England and says he “could sense the excitement in the crowd” on the tour and that the Lions tour was talked about before and after every match.
“To think of beating the four nations that come together as one started to really capture the imaginations of myself, the management and the (tour) players.”
The way the series win over the Lions galvanised South Africa as a nation “and will forever live with me as the one of the greatest events I have ever experienced.
“The Lions bring an aura that can’t be matched. Whilst on tour, they travel the country, they hold coaching clinics in communities, schools and townships, they fill stadiums and pump immeasurable amounts of money into a crippling economy that in 2021 or in 2022 we can ill-afford losing out on.
“I know of a numerous amount of UK charities and tour operators who donate to South African charities and projects that will not be able to do so should this tour not go ahead here in South Africa. The chance to have a social impact in a country that is so desperate for it will be lost”.
He adds that his “biggest fear is that, if the tour is moved to the UK and Ireland, it will be done to appease sponsors and commercial obligations “.
It is known that meetings by the eight-man Lions board have taken place with concerns that the tour games would have to be played in empty stadiums due to a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, but it will obviously have to be weighed up to the situation expected in the UK and Ireland, who both have among the top per capita Covid-19 cases in the world.
Is postponement to 2022 an option? As De Villiers points out, that would impact on a number of tours, something that could only be resolved by a rescheduling of the 2022 test windows.
— Peter de Villiers (@CoachPdV) January 25, 2021