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British & Irish Lions tour fixtures confirmed, to be played without fans

British & Irish Lions tour fixtures confirmed, to be played without fans
Odwa Ndungane of South Africa is tackled by Matthew Rees during the Third Test match between South African and the British and Irish Lions at Ellis Park Stadium on July 4, 2009 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by David Rogers / Getty Images)

The British & Irish Lions tour dates and venues have finally been confirmed after months of revision, but the tour will be played behind closed doors.

It’s official. Well, almost. The 12-yearly series between the Springboks and British & Irish Lions will be played in empty stadiums after organisers released a revised itinerary on Friday.

SA Rugby have been lobbying national government to allow a limited number of spectators into stadiums for the eight-match tour. The itinerary sees three Tests between the tourists and current world champions, plus clashes against the local Lions, the Sharks, Bulls and Stormers and one match against South Africa ‘A’.

But in a statement SA Rugby said it would be refunding all people who had originally purchased tickets, signalling an acceptance that having fans in stadiums is going to be impossible.

“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,” said SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux.

The fact that the tour will go ahead is a small triumph but it will still require a great deal of effort from the Lions touring party and the South African health and rugby communities for it to go ahead without a glitch.

The touring Lions will be accommodated in two bio-safe environments in Gauteng and Cape Town and the Springboks will also enter into these “bio-bubbles” closer to the first Test.

None of the players selected for the Springbok squad, expected to be around 35 strong (including overseas-based players), will feature in the four provincial matches against the tourists.

“The scenarios changed on a weekly basis with options on three different continents workshopped and interrogated over the past few months to reach this point,” said Roux.

“Throughout we have had a single-minded goal to ensure the series went ahead. The British & Irish Lions only visit our shores once every 12 years and to deny our players and our supporters the opportunity of sharing in the experience of what is invariably an event passes into folklore would have been a devastating blow.

“We’re now ready to deliver the series.”

First Test in Mother City

The Cape Town Stadium will host the first Test of the three-match series on 24 July with the second and third Tests played at the 94,000-seater FNB Stadium on 31 July and 7 August.

SA Rugby and the British & Irish Lions organisation finally settled the itinerary after months of reworking and planning as Covid-19 restrictions forced several changes.

The entire tour will still feature eight matches as originally planned, but they will only be played at four venues — Ellis Park, the FNB Stadium, Loftus Versfeld and the Cape Town Stadium.

Cape Town did not host a Test when the Lions last toured South Africa in 2009. This year Durban not only misses out on a Test, but also on welcoming the Lions for a match against the Sharks due to the pandemic. That fixture will take place at Ellis Park.

The British & Irish Lions open their tour against the Lions from Johannesburg at Ellis Park on Saturday 3 July. That’s followed by the Sharks at the same venue on 7 July before a clash with the Bulls at Loftus on 10 July.

The caravan then moves to a bio-bubble in Cape Town where the Lions take on South Africa ‘A’ on Wednesday 14 July, the Stormers on 17 July followed by the first Test on 24 July, all at the Cape Town Stadium in Green Point.

Ben Calveley, The British & Irish Lions Managing Director, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has caused considerable disruption to the global sporting calendar, but after discussions with our partners at SA Rugby, we are very pleased to be able to give confirmation of the revised tour schedule.    

“While things will undoubtedly look different to a typical Lions tour, together with SA Rugby we are determined to deliver an uninterrupted series for the players who will take the field, as well as the many millions of people watching at home.

“We would like to thank all Lions supporters for their patience and understanding as we continue to navigate our way through the impact of the pandemic, and also extend our enormous gratitude to our commercial partners for their incredible ongoing support.”

The full British & Irish Lions schedule:

Saturday 3 July: Lions v The British & Irish Lions (Ellis Park, Johannesburg) KO 18h00 (SAT) / 17h00 (BST)

Wednesday 7 July: Sharks v The British & Irish Lions (Ellis Park, Johannesburg) KO 20h00 (SAT) / 19h00 (BST)

Saturday 10 July: Bulls v The British & Irish Lions (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria) KO 18h00 (SAT) / 17h00 (BST)

Wednesday 14 July: South Africa ‘A’ v The British & Irish Lions (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town) KO 20h00 (SAT) / 19h00 (BST)

Saturday 17 July: Stormers v The British & Irish Lions (Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town) KO 18h00 (SAT) / 17h00 (BST)

Saturday 24 July: Springboks v The British & Irish Lions (1st Test, Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town) KO 18h00 (SAT) / 17h00 (BST)

Saturday 31 July: Springboks v The British & Irish Lions (2ndTest, FNB Stadium, Johannesburg) KO 18h00 (SAT) / 17h00 (BST)

Saturday 7 Aug: Springboks v The British & Irish Lions (3rd Test, FNB Stadium, Johannesburg) KO 18h00 (SAT) / 17h00 (BST) DM

All you need to know – Lions Series ticket holders

  • Full refunds for all tickets bought via the official ticketing website
  • No need to apply – automated refunds to purchaser’s payment card
  • First right to purchase tickets if spectator restrictions lifted
  • Purchasers of hospitality packages will be contacted directly about their refunds.

SA Rugby on Friday confirmed that tickets bought for the Castle Lager Lions Series through the authorised ticketing platform (tickets.lionstour2021.co.za) would be eligible for a full refund.

The assurance was given following the announcement of a revised schedule to minimise the risks of disruption that could be caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ticket holders who made their purchases as part of the travel packages from SA Rugby Travel or Lions Rugby Travel will receive an email from their respective agent explaining their options.

Purchasers of hospitality packages will be contacted by email in respect of their refunds.

Refunds to ticket holders will be made automatically. Ticket holders will have first right to buy tickets for the revised schedule if the South African Government announces the lifting of restrictions in sufficient time to deliver the necessary safety protocols. 

Ticketing FAQ: 

  • Q: Do I need to apply for my refund?

A: No. Tickets bought from tickets.lionstour2021.co.za will automatically be refunded to the payment card used.

  • Q: When will I get my money back?

A: The processing of refunds will be concluded by the end of May. Please note that when refunds reflect on your statement it may reflect the day of initial purchase.

  • Q: What happens if the card I paid with has expired?

A: Fans with expired payment cards will be contacted directly by customer service staff should their refund fail. Manual refunds will take up to 14 days from the date of receipt of the ticket holders direct deposit information. Note that ticket holders do not need to contact our customer service team.

  • Q: What happens if I don’t receive my refund?

A: Our Customer service staff will monitor the refunds process and those customers’ refunds that are not successful will be contacted by Customer Service to update records.

  • Q: Will I be charged an administration fee for the processing of my refund?

A: No

  • Q: Will the refund also include the administration charge that was made when I bought the ticket?

A: Yes 

  • Q: What information must I provide to claim for a refund?

A: There is no need to claim. Tickets bought from tickets.lionstour2021.co.za will automatically be refunded to the payment card used.

  • Q: I didn’t get my ticket from the ballot. How do I get my money back?

A: Please contact the official retailer directly. Their details are at this link https://tickets.lionstour2021.co.za/showNews.html?idNews=3url If you made the purchase through an unofficial re-seller you will need to check their T&Cs. 

  • Q: Should government permit attendance, will I be guaranteed tickets?

A: Unfortunately not, but ticket holders will have a first right to buy tickets if the South African Government permits attendance at sporting events before the Castle Lager Lions Series commences.

For further information: https://tickets.lionstour2021.co.za/showNews.html?idNews=10

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