SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux says there will be a ‘serious reconsideration’ of next year’s British & Irish Lions tour if the current Covid-19 pandemic prevents fans from travelling. DYLAN JACK reports.
Roux held a media briefing on Tuesday to update the public on the ticketing system and pricing.
Current coronavirus lockdown restrictions would prevent fans from travelling to South Africa, let alone attending matches during the tour.
Roux explained that SA Rugby and tour organisers had been working on a best-case scenario, but that the tour would have to be reconsidered if fans are not able to travel, which would have a significant commercial impact.
‘We are obviously looking at a number of different contingencies around what happens if Covid continues in the way that it currently does. Obviously, first prize is that that doesn’t happen. Second prize is that there are some restrictions and we can manage in those restrictions.
‘To be fair, no spectators and an inability for people to travel would commercially not make this viable and there would be a serious reconsideration on how we then continue in terms of the tour.
‘In the buildup to this, in the last couple of months, there was some consideration given to moving it out. We decided on the best-case information that we currently have, is that in all likelihood by June and July next year, travel would have returned to what is deemed normal and that we will be able to continue.’
On Tuesday, SA Rugby announced that tickets from as little as R100 for next year’s Lions tour will be available from 2 September.
However, should the Lions tour be called off, Roux said that there are systems in place to ensure that fans from the UK and South Africa get their money back.
‘We are assessing that on a weekly and monthly basis. From a ticketing point of view, there is legislation in place in the UK in terms of repayment if an event like the Lions tour doesn’t happen. We have built in those securities in terms of the South African ticket sales as well. From a fan point of view, they are covered when it comes to that element.
‘We are hoping that does not happen, but we will assess that as we move along.’
As far as postponing the Lions tour goes, Roux explained that it would be highly unlikely as it would cause a shake-up of the global calendar and come into conflict with Premiership and PRO14 dates.
‘In terms of moving the dates of the tour to a later stage next year – given the decisions around the global calendar – would be unlikely,’ Roux said. ‘It would probably mess with PRL, PRO14 and a few other dates, which would make it highly unlikely.
‘Unless everybody gets together like they have done for the global calendar and makes a collective decision to move that. At the moment, I would deem it unlikely. I cannot speak on behalf of the other member unions.’
Photo: Gallo Images