British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland says a warm-up clash with Japan will serve as important preparation before the team heads to South Africa.
The Lions will host Japan at Murrayfield Stadium on 26 June for the Vodafone Lions 1888 Cup. The first-ever clash between the world’s greatest touring side and the Brave Blossoms will raise the curtain for the Lions’ eagerly awaited tour to South Africa, which culminates in a three-Test series against the Springboks.
Lions head coach Warren Gatland believes the 2019 Rugby World Cup quarter-finalists will provide a stern test for his squad before they depart for South Africa.
‘We saw Japan play some excellent rugby during the World Cup and they will come to Edinburgh fully motivated to win,’ said Gatland.
‘They are a talented side who play high-tempo rugby, so it’ll be a good challenge for us ahead of the Tour, and a chance for the match-day squad to put their hands up for Test selection.’
Scottish Rugby’s 67,000-seat stadium in Edinburgh will host only the third Lions Test match on ‘home’ soil, following games in Cardiff against Argentina in 2005 and against a Rest of the World XV in 1986.
The Lions’ eight-game tour to South Africa kicks off on Saturday, 3 July 2021 when they play the Stormers in Cape Town. Three weeks later the Stadium in Johannesburg will host the first Test – a venue which previously hosted the 2010 Fifa World Cup final.
The second Test follows on Saturday, 31 July at the Cape Town Stadium – the first Lions Test in the Mother City since 1997 – before the British & Irish tourists return to Gauteng for the final Test on Saturday, 7 August at Emirates Airline Park, the venue of the 1995 World Cup final.
The Lions have toured South Africa on 13 previous occasions, with the first Tour taking place in 1891. In that time, the Lions have won four Test series, lost eight with one drawn. Their overall record against the Springboks is – played 46, won 17, lost 23 and drawn six.
- Saturday 26 June: British & Irish Lions vs Japan – BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh
- Saturday 3 July: British & Irish Lions vs Stormers – Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
- Wednesday 7 July: British & Irish Lions vs South Africa Invitational – Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
- Saturday 10 July: British & Irish Lions vs Sharks – Kings Park, Durban
- Wednesday 14 July: British & Irish Lions vs South Africa A Team – Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
- Saturday 17 July: British & Irish Lions vs Vodacom Bulls – Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
- Saturday 24 July (first Test): Springboks vs British & Irish Lions – FNB Stadium, Johannesburg
- Saturday 31 July (second Test): Springboks vs British & Irish Lions – Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
- Saturday 7 August (third Test): Springboks vs British & Irish Lions – Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg.