Director of rugby Rassie Erasmus says the British & Irish Lions tour in 2021 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for South African players.
The British & Irish Lions could make history on an eight-game tour of South Africa in 2021, with Warren Gatland’s side potentially set to play in front of the largest-ever crowd for a Lions Test since the game turned professional, after the itinerary was jointly announced on Wednesday.
Tests will be played at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, Cape Town Stadium and Ellis Park.
The eight-game schedule includes six weekend fixtures against the Vodacom Bulls, Sharks and Stormers, and two midweek fixtures against an invitational side in Port Elizabeth and South Africa ‘A’ in Nelspruit.
‘There are players who have been to three World Cups and finished their careers with a winner’s medal and yet never got to play against the Lions,’ Erasmus said. ‘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 World Cup. The Lions performed extremely well on their previous two tours [to Australia and New Zealand] and will no doubt relish the opportunity to add the Springboks’ scalp to their belt.
‘It is now something like 600 days until the British & Irish Lions arrive in South Africa and we have already started with planning for that. The Lions 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.’
Full 2021 tour schedule
Saturday, 3 July: British & Irish Lions vs Stormers – Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
Wednesday, 7 July: British & Irish Lions v SA ‘Invitational’ – Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Saturday 10 July: British & Irish Lions vs Sharks – Kings Park, Durban
Wednesday 14 July: British & Irish Lions v South Africa ‘A’ – Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Saturday, 17 July: British & Irish Lions vs Vodacom Bulls – Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Saturday, 24 July (1st Test): Springboks vs British & Irish Lions – FNB Stadium, Johannesburg
Saturday, 31 July (2nd Test): Springboks vs British & Irish Lions – Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
Saturday, 7 August (3rd Test): Springboks vs British & Irish Lions – Ellis Park, Johannesburg.
Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Getty Images