The British & Irish Lions will reportedly travel to South Africa to take on the Springboks without the backing of their famous ‘Red Army’ of fans due to Covid-19 restrictions.
According to the Daily Mail, tickets for the original fixtures have been cancelled. New tickets will only be issued once the revised itinerary for the 2021 tour is confirmed and once government confirms its policy on crowd numbers inside stadiums.
However, the report states that the Lions are preparing for significantly reduced capacity and the eventuality that only local fans will be allowed to attend the matches.
It is a significant blow for the Lions, as the ‘Red Army’ has remained a proud tradition of the invitational side, even during rugby’s professional era.
The news will also come as a blow for the South African economy, which could lose up to R8 billion in potential revenue if games are played in empty stadiums.
SARugbymag.co.za understands that SA Rugby has worked closely with Sascoc on a ‘spectator guidelines’ proposal in the hope of receiving some concession for fan attendance.
Until the Covid-19 pandemic affected the tour, it had been estimated that some 35,000 fans could make the trip from the UK to South Africa, which would have been a massive boost for the South African tourism industry.
The report also states that in order to maximise ticket sales, the last two Tests between the Springboks and Lions could be held at the 95,000-seater FNB stadium in Soweto.
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