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British and Irish Lions: Playing South Africa tests in UK is contingency plan

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The Lions board are keen to ensure the series with South Africa goes ahead in front of fans
The Lions board is keen to ensure the series with South Africa goes ahead in front of fans

The British and Irish Lions series with South Africa could be held in the UK if Covid-19 prevents fans from travelling.

Reversing the venue is among the contingency plans discussed by the Lions board in the event that the trip has to be abandoned.

Instead, tour games would be played in Edinburgh, London, Cardiff and Dublin.

The Lions board has previously made it clear the tour can’t proceed without fans, with 30,000 believed to be planning to travel to South Africa.

However, it is hoped that a vaccine would allow for fans to attend games in the UK by summer.

In a statement on Saturday the Lions board announced that they’d been having “repeated meetings to discuss all scenarios available and is in constant dialogue”.

A warm-up contest with Japan is already scheduled for Murrayfield in Edinburgh on 26 June.

After that, the original plan is for the Lions to travel to South Africa to play five provincial games before the three-Test series against the world champions.

The revised plan would likely see the Test matches held at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium and Wembley and Twickenham in London.

Government restrictions currently forbid fans from attending, but even if restrictions are lifted, the Lions board is worried that such a large movement of people could put any Covid-19 recovery in jeopardy.

It had been mooted that the tour might be delayed until 2022, but all four nations have Test matches scheduled for that summer window and are not keen on that switch.

Lions managing director Ben Calveley said: “It will meet throughout January and into February, if required, to review all relevant information and data.

“After further consultation with SA Rugby, we will update on the outcome of these meetings in due course.”

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