THE match dates for the 2021 British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa have been announced. The eight-game schedule includes six weekend fixtures: three against Super Rugby teams the Bulls, Sharks and Stormers, and two midweek fixtures against an invitational side in Port Elizabeth and South Africa ‘A’ in Nelspruit.
“I am absolutely thrilled with how this schedule looks,” said head coach Warren Gatland, who will be leading the squad on tour for a third consecutive time after a victorious trip to Australia in 2013 and a drawn series with New Zealand in 2017.
“Touring South Africa is always a huge challenge, not only from a rugby perspective, but also in terms of the venues and the conditions facing the players.
“We are very comfortable that three of the games, two of which are Test matches, will be played at altitude. Our schedule falls in a way to allow us to start at sea level before building up and acclimatising to the unique environment that playing at altitude presents.
“Ensuring the team are absolutely primed for the Test matches is a critical element of any Lions Tour, and I am confident the quality of opposition we will face in the opening weeks will get us ready to take on the Springboks. The Bulls, Sharks and Stormers are all tough sides and present different challenges, which is exactly what we want.
“Moreover, the venues we have agreed – some of which will be new to the Lions – open up the matches to a vast audience and will undoubtedly provide an unforgettable experience for the players and travelling supporters alike.”
The British & Irish Lions have toured South Africa on 13 previous occasions, with the first Tour taking place in 1891. In that time, the Lions have won four Test series, lost eight and drew one. Their overall record against the Springboks is played 46, won 17, lost 23 and drawn six.
Full 2021 tour schedule:
- Saturday 3 July: British & Irish Lions v DHL 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 Cell C Sharks – Jonsson Kings Park, Durban
- Wednesday 13 July: British & Irish Lions v South Africa ‘A’ Team – Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
- Saturday 17 July: British & Irish Lions v Vodacom 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 – Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg