SA Rugby president Mark Alexander has dismissed overseas media reports that the 2021 British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa could be under threat of cancellation because of Covid-19.
Media reports over the weekend in the Mirror claimed that the 2021 Lions visit to South Africa, the first since 2009, was in doubt and could be cancelled because of Covid-19-enforced interruptions to World Rugby’s 2020 international calendar.
However, Alexander told SARugbymag.co.za that the only thing that could possibly change in relation to the British & Irish Lions eight-match tour to South Africa in 2021 is the date.
‘While we continue to look forward to an incredible tour and series against the British & Irish Lions in 2021, and there are no planned changes, it would be remiss of us not to explore various scenarios for a possible date change caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,’ an SA Rugby spokesperson added.
The Lions 2021 tour, as it stands, will start on 3 July in Cape Town against the Stormers and the final match will be the third Test against the Springboks in Johannesburg on 7 August.
If anything changes, based on the recovery period caused by Covid-19, it would be a slightly later start date.
Alexander, in dismissing media reports that the home unions would prioritise Tests over the Lions, emphasised the Lions were the second-biggest occasion after the Rugby World Cup and that traditionally the home unions have always continued their tour commitments without those players selected for the Lions.
World Rugby is expected to next week confirm an amended international schedule, with the 2020 July southern-hemisphere internationals likely to be shifted to October and the November northern-hemisphere internationals to follow.