The British & Irish Lions could still tour South Africa after their board decided to turn down an offer from Australia to host this year’s series against the Springboks.
According to reports in the Telegraph and Daily Mail, after meeting this week the eight-man Lions board, chaired by Jason Leonard, ruled out the option of holding the tour in Australia.
Rugby Australia made the offer to host the series, promising capacity crowds in the three Tests, which would have been held in Perth, Sydney and Brisbane. RA had also offered to cover the costs of relocating the tour, as well as any losses in revenue, if a lockdown was implemented in Australia at short notice.
The Lions board had hoped to make a final call over the tour during its meeting on Friday, but has delayed its decision waiting to hear if the UK government will underwrite the costs of relocating the tour to the UK and Ireland.
A decision on this is only expected in the coming week, but multiple reports in England suggest that it is unlikely, with a number of other sports also dependent on government’s support.
The costs attached to hosting the tour in the UK mean that minimum crowds of 25% would be needed to make the tour viable, but there is still no clarity over whether fans in the UK will be allowed back into stadiums by the time the tour rolls around in July.
It appears that a UK-based series still presents the most lucrative option, but the possibility of a traditional tour to South Africa has also not been ruled out.
For now, though, the waiting game continues as various options remain on the table.
However, any Australia-based series has been removed from the equation.
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