British & Irish Lions

Growing support for Australia to host Lions-Springboks series

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Rugby Australia chairperson Hamish McLennan. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
Rugby Australia chairperson Hamish McLennan. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Support is growing for the British & Irish Lions' series against the Springboks to be held in Australia.

The idea was first mooted by Rugby Australia late last month following uncertainty over whether the tour would go ahead amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The coronavirus is largely contained in Australia and matches could therefore be played with fans in attendance.

According to British publication, The Telegraph, the proposal is looking increasing likely and the Lions board was set for a meeting on the matter on Thursday.

Other options include holding the tour, as planned, in South Africa or moving it to the UK and Ireland, but that would likely be without crowds due to the Covid-19 numbers in those countries.

Rugby Australia chairperson Hamish McLennan said sold-out stadiums would be a distinct possibility if the tour was staged in his country.

"If we sold out Sydney or Perth, which is achievable if we are allowed to have full crowds, it would just be mind-blowing for the players.

"I know lockdown in the UK has been tough but in Sydney life is relatively normal. We can successfully host this," McLennan said.

McLennan earlier said his organisation would only seek to cover its costs for staging the series, meaning the Lions and SA Rugby would still split revenue from one of the most lucrative events on the rugby calendar.

"The fact that we can fill stadiums and play in relatively friendly time zones for them could deliver high benefits," he told The Australian newspaper.

"All member unions need revenue in Covid times and I'm sure we could deliver them a big cheque at the end of the day."

The eight-match tour is scheduled to run from 3 July to 7 August and features three Tests between the Lions and the world champion Springboks - on 24 July, 31 July and 7 August.

Australia has a proven record of hosting sporting events during the pandemic, with the Tri-Nations rugby tournament, India's cricket tour and the current Australian Open tennis Grand Slam successful examples.

Current 2021 British & Irish Lions tour schedule:

- Saturday 26 June: British & Irish Lions v Japan - Murrayfield, Edinburgh
- Saturday 3 July: British & Irish Lions v Stormers - Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
- Wednesday 7 July: British & Irish Lions v South Africa 'Invitational' - Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
- Saturday 10 July: British & Irish Lions v Sharks - Kings Park, Durban
- Wednesday 14 July: British & Irish Lions v South Africa 'A' Team - Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
- Saturday 17 July: British & Irish Lions v Bulls - Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
- Saturday 24 July (first Test): Springboks v British & Irish Lions - FNB Stadium, Johannesburg
- Saturday 31 July (second Test): Springboks v British & Irish Lions - Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
- Saturday 7 August (third Test): Springboks v British & Irish Lions - Ellis Park, Johannesburg

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