12 The Daily Telegraph Tuesday 8 September 2020 *** Sport Rugby Union Uniform approach The England women’s rugby team featured alongside their male counterparts in the launch of the teams’ new home and away kits. The Irish Rugby Football Union came under fire last month for using models instead of female players for the launch of their team’s first female replica jersey. By contrast, members of the Red Roses squad, including Shaunagh Brown (far left) and Sarah Hunter, feature prominently in a video promoting the England Umbro strips, alongside Jack Nowell and Lewis Ludlam (right). Both squads will wear the kit for the first time in delayed Six Nations matches next month Georgia to take place of Japan in Eight Nations Boost for Lions tour as Tests sell out within hours ing out, while demand for ticket sales for the five provincial games is also said to be strong. The SARU ballot remains open until Sept 16. The news comes after SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux warned last month that the five-week tour, which kicks off in Cape Town on July 3, with eight matches in six cities, could fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic if travelling fans are prevented from attending. It is not yet clear how many Lions supporters have managed to buy tickets, given that the ballot was restricted to fans based in South Africa. On the 2009 tour of South Africa, the hosts were surprised by the thousands of Lions fans who managed to secure tickets to create a “sea of red” in each stadium. The Lions have also been inundated with registrations for their official allocation of 500 tickets per Test for their own ballot. Lions fans can purchase tickets through official travel packages, with over 30,000 expected to attend the tour. It is thought that thousands of tickets made available on the South African ballot will have been purchased by Lions supporters. Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium. The Principality Stadium is unavailable because it is being used as a field hospital in case of a second spike in the coronavirus pandemic. In the other pool, Scotland, France, Italy and Fiji will face each other, with the winners of each pool meeting in the final at Twickenham on Dec 5. In the original pools England had sides from travelling to Europe. The Rugby Football Union is optimistic that supporters will be able to attend the matches at Twickenham, having put in place safety measures for 20,000 to attend the game against the Barbarians on Oct 25. Bill Sweeney, the RFU chief executive, estimated in July that the reduction in social-distancing measures from two metres to one would enable crowds of up to 40,000 to attend Twickenham. The return of supporters would offer a vital financial lifeline at a time when unions across the world are forecasting massive reductions in revenue due to the pandemic. The RFU has forecast losses in revenue of £107million if no supporters are able to attend matches this autumn, and is in the process of making 139 employees redundant because of the financial impact of Covid-19. A broadcast deal for the tournament has yet to be agreed. However, Amazon Prime is said to be the front-runner to secure the rights, although sources have indicated Sky Sports has also bid strongly. By Gavin Mairs By Gavin Mairs Georgia are to replace Japan in the Eight Nations this autumn and will face England for the first time outside of a World Cup, having been drawn in the same pool along with Ireland and Wales. It is understood that official confirmation of Georgia’s inclusion is expected within two weeks and that they are to face England at Twickenham on Nov 7. It will be only the third time the sides have met, after the 2003 and 2011 World Cups. England will then host Ireland at Twickenham on Nov 14 before playing their final pool game, against Wales on Nov 21. That may also take place at Twickenham, even though it is a home game for Wales, although it is thought the Welsh Rugby Union is also considering The British and Irish Lions tour next year has received a major boost, with two of the three Tests against South Africa selling out within hours of going on sale, despite the uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The South African Rugby Union has received unprecedented demand for tickets, and the second and third Tests, at the Cape Town Stadium (55,000 capacity) and Ellis Park (62,500) in Johannesburg, are understood to have sold out on the first day of going on sale when the ticket ballot opened last Wednesday. It is understood that the first Test, to be held at Soccer City in Soweto, which has a capacity of just under 90,000, is also close to sellAtkinson. been drawn with Ireland, Wales and Fiji, with Japan in the other pool with Scotland, France and Italy. However, after Japan indicated last month that they were no longer able to take part because of government restrictions, the pools were rejigged. The tournament is a replacement for the scheduled autumn Test series after the Covid-19 restrictions prevented southern-hemisphere
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