Dramatic U-turn for B&I Lions tour
NEWS: South Africa is set to get an unexpected boost, with a report that the British and Irish Lions tour will go ahead as originally planned.
Gavin Mairs, writing in The Telegraph, suggests that all alternative plans for the tour have been abandoned.
According to the report, the widely-publicised contingency plan of relocating the eight-match tour to the United Kingdom and Ireland has been ‘dismissed’ by the Lions board, owing to time, logistics and expense.
This comes despite the uncertainty if spectators would be allowed at matches.
There are still a lot of challenges facing the tour, especially around the COVID-19 pandemic.
The newspaper states that a formal ‘announcement’ is expected within the next 48 hours.
South Africa as the host remains the broadcasters’ preferred option, even without spectators.
The Rugby Football Union, according to The Telegraph, has also given its support to South African as host.
“If it is possible, the RFU is supportive of the Lions tour going ahead in South Africa as planned,” an RFU spokesperson told the newspaper.
“Ultimately the decision will be made by the Lions Board together with SA Rugby and the welfare of players will be central to any decision made.”
There had been reports that the UK government was prepared to underwrite the costs but it is understood that no financial guarantee has been offered.
In order to make the relocation viable, it would require minimum crowds of 25 percent capacity and given the uncertainty still attached to the road map out of the lockdown, without government support it is unlikely to be possible.
Rugby Australia had made a bold offer to host the eight-match series Down Under, including the promise of capacity crowds for three Test matches to be played at major stadiums in Perth, Sydney and Brisbane, given the almost zero community transmission of the virus in the country.
Source: The Telegraph