The British and Irish Lions are to hold talks over the future of the 2021 tour to South Africa amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
An eight-match trip is scheduled to begin on July 3 and continue into early August, including three Tests against the Springboks, who are the reigning world champions.
However, the continued complications surrounding the COVID-19 health crisis – in the United Kingdom, Ireland and South Africa – has led to doubts over whether the tour will go ahead as planned.
In a statement on the team’s official website, Lions managing director Ben Calveley confirmed that all involved are in “constant dialogue” over the ever-changing situation.
Discussions will continue throughout January and February if needs be knowing a decision is required as soon as possible, particularly for those supporters considering travelling to South Africa.
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) January 2, 2021
“As you would expect, we are progressing with our plans based on the latest information available to us,” Lions managing director Ben Calveley said in a statement.
“However, given the uncertainty that continues to be caused by the coronavirus pandemic both in South Africa, as well as the UK and Ireland, we are very aware of the need to make a timely decision on the best way forward; not least so that we can provide clarity to supporters booked to travel to South Africa next summer, or those thinking of making the trip.
“To date, the Lions Board has had repeated meetings to discuss all scenarios available and is in constant dialogue.
“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.
“In the meantime, we continue regular discussion with our partners in the UK, Ireland and South Africa, including the British High Commission in Pretoria, the Irish Embassy and various government departments, to ascertain as much information as possible on this fast-evolving, complex situation.”
Warren Gatland is once again due to be in charge of the tourists; the former Wales coach was at the helm for the 2013 victory over Australia, as well as the drawn series with New Zealand four years later.
The Lions have toured South Africa 13 times previously, including a 2-1 defeat to the Springboks in 2009 when Ian McGeechan was head coach.