South Africa planning closed-door rugby games

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South African Rugby Lions Tour played behind closed doors Image: & Plack

South Africa is planning for all matches of the rugby union team British and Irish Lions tour to be played behind closed doors, but is still keeping fingers crossed that few spectators will be present.

‘planet rugby’ stated that a revised schedule for the eight fixtures has been published with the coronavirus scourge forcing adjustments to be made to the original itinerary that reduce travel and create stable team bases.

New variants of the virus are causing growing concern in South Africa which has contributed to an increase in both cases and deaths reported across the continent.

The British & Irish Lions is a rugby union team selected from players eligible for the national teams of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland (sometimes known as the Home Nations).

‘planet rugby’ further stated that all games will be staged in Gauteng or Cape Town and there is one change in opposition, with the South African professional rugby union team Emirates Lions replacing the SA Invitational team in the tour opener on July 3rd.

And in a new development, SA Rugby has announced that the games, including the three- Test series against the Springboks, are being organized on the basis they will take place without in-person attendance.

The Lions (known as the Emirates Lions for sponsorship reasons) is a South African professional rugby union team based in Johannesburg in the Gauteng province that competed in the Super Rugby competition until 2020. They were previously known as the Cats between the 1998 and 2006 seasons.

The South Africa national rugby union team, commonly known as the Springboks, is the country’s national team governed by the South African Rugby Union. The Springboks play in green and gold jerseys with white shorts, and their emblem is the native antelope springbok.

SA Rugby Chief Executive Jurie Roux said, “We are hopeful that restrictions on attendance at sports events will be relaxed but, for the moment, we are planning for an event behind closed doors. If that requirement changes, then we’ll assess the options available and make the necessary decisions based on the restrictions in place.”

Ticket holders for the original schedule will receive a full refund while South African residents who have tickets will be given first refusal on buying seats for the new itinerary, if restrictions on attendance are lifted.

It confirms that British and Irish Lions fans will not be able to travel to South Africa as part of any tour packages.

The pre-tour warm-up Test against Japan at Murrayfield Stadium (Scotland) on June 26th will proceed as scheduled, but a decision on the size of the crowd will be made closer to the time.

Added Roux, “We’re delighted to be able to finally confirm the revised schedule after months of scenario planning and shifting circumstances. It has been a challenging process with dozens of variables to consider but we believe we have arrived at a schedule that minimizes the risks associated with the pandemic. This is not the Lions series we imagined when we started our planning more than two and a half years ago but, in the circumstances, I think it is an exciting prospect.”

The top shot concluded, “After all the uncertainty it’s a relief to be able to put a stake in the ground and confirm what the series will look like. I’m sure most of us can’t now wait for kick-off. The scenarios changed on a weekly basis, with options on three different continents workshopped and interrogated over the past few months to reach this point. Throughout we have had a single-minded goal to ensure the series went ahead. We’re now ready to deliver the series.”

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