Mark Alexander, President SA Rugby during the 2019 Springbok Squad Announcement at Ulwazi Centre MultiChoice City, Johannesburg, on 26 August 2019 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

A strong commitment has been made to deliver the money-spinning British & Irish Lions tour in South Africa as planned later this year.

Numerous reports claimed that the tour could be played in another country due to challenges around Covid-19‚ but SA Rugby and the British & Irish Lions reaffirmed on Tuesday night that the matches would go ahead in the country as originally planned.

“After reviewing information relating to the various contingency scenarios being considered‚ I can confirm that the board’s intended position is for the tour to go ahead as scheduled in South Africa in 2021‚” confirmed chairman of the British & Irish Lions Jason Leonard.

“We acknowledge that there is a significant amount of work still to be undertaken to deliver a robust Covid-19 countermeasure plan to ensure a successful‚ safe and uninterrupted tour. SA Rugby will have our full support to help implement this plan.”

President of the South African Rugby Union Mark Alexander said he would inform his Executive Council of the alignment.

“We appreciate the Lions’ faith and share their desire to see a safe and successful tour‚” said Alexander.

“We have been in regular contact with our government to make that a reality against the backdrop of the pandemic and its predicted progression over the coming months.

“There are serious financial implications for SA Rugby‚ should the event take place without any supporters in attendance‚ and we cannot ignore that in our considerations. But we are determined that the eventual outcome will deliver the best occasion and experience for players‚ supporters and our commercial partners.”

Alexander said the original tour schedule is likely to be reviewed‚ but he has given assurances that fans who had purchased tickets would be entitled to a full refund once any revised schedule is confirmed.

“Every British and Irish player dreams of wearing the famous red jersey‚ and players from the southern hemisphere aspire to be part of a Lions series. We owe it to the current players vying for a place in both squads to ensure they can become part of Lions history.

“We are very much looking forward to taking on South Africa for what promises to be a highly-competitive Series against the reigning World Champions‚” added Leonard.

“As hosts and ‘owners’ of the Castle Lager Lions Series no one has been more affected or more challenged by the current circumstances than SA Rugby.

“However‚ with the support of our government and good planning we can navigate the pandemic to nonetheless create a most memorable event for players‚ fans and partners‚” concluded Alexander.