All eight matches of the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa will be played in Gauteng and Cape Town to minimise the risks of disruption that could be caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new schedule accommodates stable team bases and training venues and significantly reduces travel.
The series will now kick off in Gauteng (rather than Cape Town) with three matches against provincial opposition before moving to Cape Town for two more warm-up matches before the first Test at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday 24 July.
The series then returns to Johannesburg for the second and third Tests at the FNB Stadium.
There is one team change in the revised schedule with the Joburg-based Lions replacing the SA Invitational team. The adjustment was made to reduce the risks associated with drawing a squad from around the country.
The new schedule is:
- Saturday 3 July: Lions v The British & Irish Lions (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg) KO 6pm
- Wednesday 7 July: Sharks v The British & Irish Lions (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg) KO 8pm
- Saturday 10 July: Bulls v The British & Irish Lions (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria) KO 6pm
- Wednesday 14 July: South Africa ‘A’ v The British & Irish Lions (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town) KO 8pm
- Saturday 17 July: Stormers v The British & Irish Lions (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town) KO 6pm
- Saturday 24 July: Springboks v The British & Irish Lions (1st Test, Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town) KO 6pm
- Saturday 31 July: Springboks v The British & Irish Lions (2nd Test, FNB Stadium, Johannesburg) KO 6pm
- Saturday 7 Aug: Springboks v The British & Irish Lions (3rd Test, FNB Stadium, Johannesburg) KO 6pm
All ticket holders for the original schedule will receive a full refund. SA Rugby also confirmed that SA resident ticket holders would have first right to purchase tickets for the revised schedule if restrictions on attendance at sports events were lifted.
“We’re delighted to be able to finally confirm the revised schedule after months of scenario planning and shifting circumstances,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.
“It has been a challenging process with dozens of variables to consider but we believe we have arrived at a schedule that minimises the risks associated with the pandemic.
“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 requirement changes, then we’ll assess the options available and make the necessary decisions based on the restrictions in place.
“I would like to thank our supporters and commercial partners for their patience over these many months. This is not the Lions Series we imagined when we started our planning more than two and a half years ago but, in the circumstances, I think it is an exciting prospect.
“After all the uncertainty it’s a relief to be able to put a stake in the ground and confirm what the Series will look like – I’m sure most of us can’t now wait for kick off.”
Ticketholders would be contacted directly to advise details of the refund process.