SA fans clamouring for a front seat at Lions series

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Morné Steyn of SA kicks the ball upfield during the third test match against the British and Irish Lions in 2009 Picture: David Rogers / Getty Images
Morné Steyn of SA kicks the ball upfield during the third test match against the British and Irish Lions in 2009 Picture: David Rogers / Getty Images

In partnership with the South African Rugby event services


Ian McGeechan has likened the Springboks versus the British and Irish Lions three-test series in South Africa to three successive World Cup finals.

McGeechan’s playing and coaching career includes four Lions tours. He coached the men in red to a series win against the Springboks in 1997, was in South Africa as a player with the glorious, undefeated 1974 Lions and then returned to South Africa in 2009 as the head coach.

McGeechan has known victory and defeat in South Africa against the Springboks, but mostly he knows what it means to tour South Africa and be a Lions player and coach in our country.

“It’s unique,” he often tells the media. “South Africans get the Lions.”

The South African public, judging by their reaction to this week’s ticket sales ballot opening, would agree. More than 50 000 South African residents visited the official South African territory online site (lionstour2021.co.za) on Wednesday, taking the total number of visitors to more than 200 000 in the first few days of ballot registration being open.

The ballot, entries to which close just before midnight on September 16, doesn’t guarantee any applicant a ticket, but is the fairest system for determining all the applications. Those who’ve applied will know before the end of September whether they’ve succeeded in their ticket requests.

It’s a dream schedule, both in terms of travel and also for the Lions squad in terms of the quality of opposition in the build-up to the test series.
Lourens Oberholzer

“The demand for tickets, by way of the ballot applications, has been huge,” says South Africa-based tour director Lourens Oberholzer.

“Naturally, there’s huge interest in the three test matches, but there have also been an overwhelming number of applications for the non-test matches, which is fantastic for the tour.”

Oberholzer, consistent with McGeechan’s comments, speaks of a South African nation immersed in the Lions’ visit.

“We keep talking about an eight-occasion rugby extravaganza – and that’s exactly what this is going to be,” he says.

Read: Steyn and co dream of taking on Lions

“The tour schedule, which starts in Cape Town and ends in Johannesburg, is ideal for anyone following each match of the tour, as it takes fans up the coast from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth and then to Durban. After that, there’s the experience of South Africa’s north – the safaris, the national parks and the vibrancy of Gauteng – for the match against the Bulls in Pretoria and the first test against the Springboks in Soweto,” says Oberholzer.

“Then it’s off to Cape Town for the second test and back to what many consider the spiritual home of the Springboks and home of the historic 1995 Springboks’ World Cup final win [Emirates Airline Park] for the tour finale against the Boks in Johannesburg.

“It’s a dream schedule, both in terms of travel and also for the Lions squad in terms of the quality of opposition in the build-up to the test series.”

The three-test series is going to be epic, and we’ve seen how South Africans immerse themselves in big sporting occasions, like the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
Tour director Lourens Oberholzer

Oberholzer says that what’s most pleasing is how many South African residents are applying for tickets to watch the five non-test matches against the Lions.

These matches have been dubbed “midweek magic” and “Super Saturday”, and include matches against the DHL Stormers, the Cell C Sharks and the Vodacom Bulls.

On July 3, the Stormers will make history by playing the Lions for the first time as a region. It will also be the first international game of rugby at the Cape Town Stadium. The final tour match is the third test against the Springboks in Johannesburg on August 7.

Oberholzer says the five non-test matches will give South Africans a chance to experience a Lions match day, which he likens to a rugby carnival.

Lions

“The supply of tickets for the three test matches can never match the obvious demand from South Africans, which is why the five non-test matches have such relevance for lovers of the game. The Lions are unique in that we in South Africa only get to host them every 12 years.

“The three-test series is going to be epic, and we’ve seen how South Africans immerse themselves in big sporting occasions, like the 2010 Fifa World Cup. We’re expecting the same response from South Africans, whenever and wherever the Lions play in July and the first week of August,” he says.

Read: Lions ticket ballot goes live, but be prepared to queue online because there is time

The Lions will complete their non-test schedule against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on July 17. The Bulls were the last provincial team in South Africa to have beaten the Lions, back in 1997.

Bulls coach Jake White was also at the helm of the Australian franchise, the Brumbies, who beat the Lions in Australia in 2013. 

The ballot process

The ticket ballot opened on September 2 and closes at 11.59pm on September 16.

The ballot process, used internationally for the most elite global sporting events, is the fairest method of determining ticket allocation, but please understand that requesting a ticket(s) through the ballot does not guarantee you a ticket.

Please visit the information drop-down menu on the home page of lionstour2021.co.za or enter the ticket ballot section for all details pertaining to the ticket ballot.

If you want a tutorial on how to process the ticket ballot, please click  on the ticket ballot guide.

The ballot on this site is exclusively for South African residents.


Beware black market tickets

British & Irish Lions Tour director Lourens Oberholzer has cautioned South African residents against attempting to buy tickets through secondary platforms for any of the eight matches next year.

Any such tickets are illegal and will not be recognised. South African residents have to go through the official online platform – lionstour2021.co.za.

“I can’t emphasise it enough that people must be cautious when dealing with any platform outside of the official online site. We are aware of secondary ticketing systems such as Viagogo, which are advertising tickets.

These companies have no ticket inventory to sell and tickets purchased through their platform(s) will not be valid and therefore not accepted at the gate. People who [buy tickets] through secondary touts will not have valid tickets,” said Oberholzer.

Why a ticket ballot?

The ballot system is used in all major global sporting events and is the fairest method of obtaining tickets.

While registration and entry into the ballot will not automatically entitle applicants to match-day tickets, the purpose of the system is to place the applicant in the draw to buy tickets.

How does the ballot process work?

Applicants will use the ballot to apply for tickets to their preferred match, ticket category, ticket quantity and, where applicable, hospitality package.

After the ballot application phase has been completed, there will be a computerised selection process.

Applicants will be notified if they have been successful in securing their preferred tickets.

. Register your ticket ballot interest at lionstour2021.co.za


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