The Star Late Edition



SA RUGBY had both good and bad news for fans when they confirmed the tour itinerary for the British and Irish Lions, but it came with the rider that it is highly likely that the matches will be played in empty stadiums.

All eight matches are to be played in Gauteng and Cape Town to minimise the risks of disruption that could be caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The schedule accommodat­es stable team bases and training venues, and significan­tly reduces travel.

It is indeed good news that the tour is going ahead, but shortly after the confirmati­on reached rugby fans, they were informed that those who had bought tickets for the matches are to be refunded.

This developmen­t does not come as a shock – it was mostly expected given that there is no spectator attendance at any sporting events in the country – and the overwhelmi­ng sentiment among sports fans is that we are fortunate simply to have the tour taking place.

SA Rugby and its joint partners at the British and Irish Lions are to be commended for making the tour happen when for so long it was in jeopardy.

Staging the tour in Australia or England would just not have felt right, and even if there are no fans, it will still be a wonderful occasion.

And who knows, there is still a slim chance that some fans might make it to the stadiums.

SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux opened the door ever so slightly when he 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 “miracle” happens, only South African fans would be allowed to purchase tickets, which would be a massive boost for the Springboks.

In further good news for our rugby, it was announced that the Rainbow Cup competitio­n in which the Bulls, Sharks, Stormers and Lions are currently competing is to culminate in an historic “North v South” final on June 19, with the top South African team playing against Europe’s PRO 14 winner.

So there is much to look forward to for rugby fans even in these challengin­g times.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa