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British and Irish Lions' South Africa tour could be held in UK and Ireland as contingency plans considered

Three options for the 2021 British and Irish Lions' tour of South Africa are: bringing the series to the UK and Ireland, playing the series behind closed doors in South Africa, or postponing the tour until 2022; The Lions board has no preference at this stage regarding a preferred option

Owen Farrell and Johnny Sexton on the British & Irish Lions' tour of New Zealand in 2017
Image: The British and Irish Lions are due to play in South Africa this summer

Playing the British and Irish Lions' series against South Africa in the United Kingdom and Ireland is one of the three contingency plans being considered amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lions bosses will be holding talks this month as they decide whether to press ahead with this summer's planned tour to play World Cup holders South Africa.

Playing the Tests behind closed doors in South Africa is another option, so too postponing the series by a year.

The Lions board has no preference at this stage regarding a preferred option.

The Lions are scheduled to play their first match in South Africa against Stormers in Cape Town on July 3, but uncertainty continues to surround global sporting events due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this month, Lions managing director Ben Calveley said a decision on the viability of the tour will be made as soon as possible in order to help the thousands of rugby fans who are considering making the trip.

"As you would expect, we are progressing with our plans based on the latest information available to us," said Calveley.

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James Cole reports that the British and Irish Lions are looking at three options for their scheduled tour of South Africa

"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."

Any postponement to summer 2022 may cause a fixture pile-up one year away from the 2023 World Cup in France, with England scheduled to be in Australia and South Africa playing Wales.

Nonetheless, organisers are desperate to avoid cancelling the Lions tour altogether.

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