Tour conclusion moved from Johannesburg to reduce Covid risks

Lions Tests moved to Cape Town

All three Tests of the British & Irish Lions 2021 series against South Africa will be played in Cape Town.

The tour was due to return to Gauteng after this weekend’s first Test between the Lions and the Springboks, with the second and third Tests played at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.

However, all three Tests – on Saturdays 24 and 31 July and 7 August – will now be played at Cape Town Stadium to reduce the risks relating to Covid-19.

Both the Springboks and Lions camps were hit by positive Covid cases earlier in the tour in Gauteng, with players and coaches having to isolate at various points.

Now that both squads are in ‘bio bubbles’ ahead of the series and tour organisers have consulted medical experts on the risks associated with the Delta variant, it has been decided that it is safest to conclude the tour in Cape Town.

This also means all three Tests will be played at sea level rather than the second two being at altitude.

Related: Could Lions venue change boost chances of victory?

SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux said: “The data pointed in only one direction.

“The series has already been significantly disrupted by Covid-19 and a return to Gauteng at this time would only increase the risks.

“We now have two teams in bio-secure environments without any positive cases or anyone in isolation. To now return to the Highveld would expose the series to renewed risk.

“Everyone wants to see the two squads, at their strongest, play out an unforgettable series over the next three weekends and this decision gives us the best opportunity to see that happen.

“We have had great support from local government, and I’d like to thank both Gauteng and the City of Cape Town for their open-minded engagement in what has been a very challenging time.

“Extraordinary times have called for extraordinary measures and we have had support from all our commercial partners despite the challenges.”

Ben Calveley, managing director for the Lions, said: “We are fully supportive of this decision, which we believe to be in the best interest of the Test series.”

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