Lions committed to staging ‘traditional’ SA tour

British & Irish Lions chairman Jason Leonard says the board is committed to producing a ‘traditional’ tour of South Africa, but will delay a final call as long as possible.

The Lions are expected to make a final decision on the future of the 2021 tour of South Africa by mid-February, but could wait another two months to make their final call on whether it is possible due to Covid-19 restrictions.

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Contingency plans include staging the series in the UK and Ireland, while Australia has also offered to host the tour, scheduled to take place in July and August.

Should the tour go ahead in South Africa, it is likely that the games would be held behind closed doors.

Speaking at the relaunch of the Front Row Club, a fundraising platform for his charity, the Atlas Foundation, Lions chairman Leonard said the board was determined to delay the decision as late as possible in order to get ‘the best possible solution’ based on the latest information.

‘It is all fluid, there could be a decision next week, there could be one in four, six or eight weeks’ time,’ Leonard said.

‘There is nothing on the table at this moment in time where we are saying, “This is what we need to do”.

‘We are still working with all involved to give ourselves the best option of hopefully trying to provide a traditional Lions tour – at least as much as a traditional Lions tour as we possibly can. Obviously, it is not a traditional year, so a traditional Lions tour could well be impossible to deliver.

‘I think from all concerned, until someone tells us it is not on, you want to deliver a tour in South Africa this summer.’

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