Leicester Mercury

Covid changes Lions’ tour of South Africa


THE British and Irish Lions’ schedule for this summer’s tour of South Africa has been amended to reduce the risk of disruption caused by coronaviru­s.

The team will play eight matches in three cities rather than six.

Warren Gatland’s side kick off in Johannesbu­rg before playing in nearby Pretoria, while the first Test against the world champions will be held in Cape Town.

A Lions statement said all games were being organised “on the basis they will take place behind closed doors”.

The 37-man squad – which includes no Leicester Tigers players – will train and play in a coronaviru­s bubble with camps in Johannesbu­rg and Cape Town.

The other two Tests will be at Soccer City in Johannesbu­rg. Ellis Park, scene of the final Tests on the 2009 and 1997 Lions tours, will host two warm-up games.

“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,” said SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux said.

“If that requiremen­t changes, then we’ll assess the options available and make the necessary decisions.”

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