Wed 13 Jan 2021 | 12:55

Online petition started to postpone B&I Lions’ SA tour

Online petition started to postpone B&I Lions’ SA tour
Wed 13 Jan 2021 | 12:55
Online petition started to postpone B&I Lions’ SA tour
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LIONS TOUR: A petition has been created online to postpone the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa to 2022 and avoid the series being moved to the United Kingdom and Ireland. Rising Covid-19 cases in South Africa, in conjunction with a new variant of the virus, have made it unlikely that the world champions will host the Lions as planned this year.

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One of the alternatives is to host the series in the UK and Ireland, but that has already faced stiff opposition from those that feel it diverges from the tradition of the Lions tour.

This petition has therefore been created on change.org by Mark Gardner titled Keep the Lions Tour in South Africa – Postpone to 2022 and DO NOT switch to UK and Ireland. It has been signed by more than 1,800 people so far.

“Covid-19 will almost certainly prevent the 2021 British and Irish Lions tour from taking place in the host country of South Africa,” Gardner wrote.

“We are petitioning for the home nations of England (RFU), Scotland (SRU), Ireland (IRFU) and Wales (WRU), who collectively make up the British and Irish Lions board, and South Africa (SA Rugby) to do the right thing by agreeing to switch the Lions tour to 2022, placing this before the needs of their own country’s proposed summer tours. The Lions requires only 36 players from across the four home nations.”

“A well-documented UK-hosted replacement series in July 2021 not only dilutes the rich touring history of the Lions, it denies South Africa’s fans, stadia, businesses, and whole tourism infrastructure the opportunity to host, impress and benefit from the 30,000 fans expected to follow the world’s most passionate invitational touring team.

“UK tour operators, independent travelling fans, airlines and businesses that exist and rely on this outbound tourism would face substantial pressures on losses through commitments made to this date. Britain’s surging Covid rates offer no guarantee that matches on UK soil would provide access to fans, thus opening the potential of Test games held behind closed doors.

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“What makes the Lions special, what makes the Lions unique, is the power it has to tempt 30 000+ passionate rugby fans from across Britain and Ireland to embark on a sporting pilgrimage to the opposite side of the globe. Help us reach 30 000 signatures to present this compelling case to keep the Lions in South Africa in July and August 2022 and NOT a watered-down alternative that focuses only on revenue for a select few beneficiaries.”

Postponing the tour carries plenty of complications itself relating to the 2023 World Cup and the tours that have already been organised for each competing country. Discussions are ongoing as to what will happen with the Lions tour, with the decision likely to be announced in February.

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Online petition started to postpone B&I Lions’ SA tour - online petition started to postpone lions sa tour to 2022 | Rugby365