Fixtures Announced For British & Irish Lions 2021 Tour Of South Africa
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The British and Irish Lions are set to break new ground and play in front of the largest-ever crowd for a Lions Test in the professional era on their eight-match tour of South Africa in 2021.
FNB Stadium in Johannesburg will host the first Test on Saturday, July 24 and with a capacity of around 88,000 fans, a sell-out crowd would surpass the 84,188 who watched the series decider against Australia in 2001.
The second Test follows a week later at the Cape Town Stadium – the first Lions Test there since 1997 – before the tourists return to Johannesburg to face the 2019 Rugby World Cup champions in the final Test on Saturday, August 7 at Airline Park.
Lions head coach Warren Gatland says he is “absolutely thrilled” by the schedule.
“Touring South Africa is always a huge challenge, not only from a rugby perspective but also in terms of the venues and the conditions facing the players,” said Gatland
“We are very comfortable that three of the games, two of which are Test matches, will be played at altitude. Our schedule falls in a way to allow us to start at sea level before building up and acclimatising to the unique environment that playing at altitude presents.
“Ensuring the team are absolutely primed for the Test matches is a critical element of any Lions Tour, and I am confident the quality of opposition we will face in the opening weeks will get us ready to take on the Springboks. The Bulls, Sharks and Stormers are all tough sides and present different challenges, which is exactly what we want.”
Rassie Erasmus, SA Director of Rugby, said the keenly-awaited Tour was a once-in-a-lifetime playing opportunity for South African players.
“There are players who have been to three Rugby World Cups and finished their careers with a winner’s medal yet never got to play against the Lions,” said Erasmus.
“They only come around every 12 years for our players and only a few of them ever have the privilege of wearing the Springbok jersey in a Lions series.
“The Lions have not lost a series since they were last here a decade ago and they will present a next-level challenge in 18 months’ time.
“Warren Gatland is a massively experienced and astute coach with a phenomenal record with the Lions and the rugby experience for our players and public will rival that of a Rugby World Cup.
“The Lions performed extremely well on their previous two tours [in Australia and New Zealand] and will no doubt relish the opportunity to add the Springboks’ scalp to their belt.”
“They will operate like a well-oiled machine and we will have to work very hard to match them in every department, on and off the field.”
2021 British and Irish Lions tour fixtures:
Saturday 3 July – Stormers (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town)
Wednesday 7 July – South Africa ‘Invitational’ (Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth)
Saturday 10 July – Sharks (Jonsson Kings Park, Durban)
Wednesday 13 July – South Africa ‘A’ team (Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit)
Saturday 17 July – Bulls (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)
Saturday 24 July – South Africa (First Test, FNB Stadium, Johannesburg)
Saturday 31 July – South Africa (Second Test, Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town)
Saturday 7 August – South Africa (Third Test, Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg)