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British & Irish Lions

British & Irish Lions to play test at BT Murrayfield

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Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

The British & Irish Lions will host Japan at BT Murrayfield Stadium on Saturday 26 June 2021 for the Vodafone Lions 1888 Cup.

The first-ever clash between the world’s greatest touring side and the Brave Blossoms will raise the curtain for the Lions’ eagerly awaited Tour to South Africa, which culminates in a three-Test series against Rugby World Cup champions, the Springboks.

Tickets for the historic fixture go on pre-sale on Tuesday 3 November, with supporters able to register their interest at lionsrugby.com/Vodafone-1888-Cup. Vodafone customers will be able to benefit from access to tickets and giveaways via the VeryMe loyalty programme.


Lions head coach Warren Gatland believes the 2019 Rugby World Cup quarter-finalists will provide a stern test for his squad before they depart for South Africa.


“We saw Japan play some excellent rugby during the World Cup and they will come to Edinburgh fully-motivated to win,” said Gatland.

“They are a talented side who play high-tempo rugby, so it’ll be a good challenge for us ahead of the Tour, and a chance for the match day squad to put their hands up for Test selection.”
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Lions managing director Ben Calveley added: “One of our objectives is to give Warren and the playing squad as much meaningful preparation as possible before departing on Tour, so we are delighted to have agreed this fixture.


“A Lions Test is one of the most iconic events in world sport, but a huge number of fans from the home nations never get the chance to see one live. The Vodafone Lions 1888 Cup match will give even more supporters the opportunity to be part of the next chapter in Lions history.
“It will be an ‘I was there’ moment, against an entertaining and highly-respected opposition.”


​Japan head coach Jamie Joseph is also relishing the prospect of the fixture: “We are very much looking forward to playing a Test against the Lions next year.
“It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our players, and we can’t wait for it to come.”


Scottish Rugby’s 67,000-seater stadium in Edinburgh will host only the third Lions Test match on ‘home’ soil, following games in Cardiff against Argentina in 2005 and against a Rest of the World XV in 1986. Mark Dodson, chief executive of Scottish Rugby and Lions board director, believes the iconic ground will provide an ideal backdrop for the Test.


“The deep connection Scotland enjoys with the British & Irish Lions has helped to shape the rich history of the team with players, coaches and support staff all contributing to the success of the side down the years,” said Dodson.


The Lions’ lead partner, Vodafone, who announced their partnership earlier in the year, are excited to be supporting the fixture. Max Taylor, commercial director, Vodafone UK said, “We are proud to be part of this incredible rugby moment and to be able to give home fans the opportunity to experience the full force of the Lions on UK soil.”


The Lions’ eight-game tour to South Africa kicks off on Saturday 3 July 2021 when they play Vodacom Super Rugby’s DHL Stormers in Cape Town. Three weeks later the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg will host the first Test – a venue which previously hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final.


The second Test follows on Saturday 31 July at the Cape Town Stadium – the first Lions Test in the Mother City since 1997 – before the British and Irish tourists return to Gauteng for the final Test on Saturday 7 August at Emirates Airline Park, the venue of the 1995 Rugby World Cup final.


The Lions have toured South Africa on 13 previous occasions, with the first Tour taking place in 1891. In that time, the Lions have won four Test series, lost eight with one drawn. Their overall record against the Springboks is played 46, won 17, lost 23 and drawn six.

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British & Irish Lions

Lions Tour Schedule Revised

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The British & Irish Lions and SA Rugby have confirmed a revised Castle Lager Lions Series fixture list and venues.

All eight matches of the Tour will be played in Gauteng or Cape Town to minimise the risks of disruption that could be caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The schedule accommodates stable team bases and training venues and significantly reduces travel.

The Castle Lager Lions Series will now kick off in Gauteng (rather than Cape Town) with three matches against provincial opposition before moving to Cape Town for two more warm-up matches before the first Test at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday 24 July.

The Series then returns to Johannesburg for the second and third Tests at the FNB Stadium.

There is one team change in the revised schedule with the Emirates Lions replacing the SA Invitational team. The adjustment was made to reduce the risks associated with drawing a squad from around the country.

SA Rugby is organising all games in the schedule on the basis they will take place behind closed doors.

Lions Tour Schedule 2021

  • Saturday 3 July: Emirates Lions v The British & Irish Lions (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg) KO 18h00 (SAT) / 17h00 (BST)
  • Wednesday 7 July: Cell C Sharks v The British & Irish Lions (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg) KO 20h00 (SAT) / 19h00 (BST)
  • Saturday 10 July: Vodacom 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: DHL 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 (2nd Test, 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)

The British & Irish Lions Test match against Japan at BT Murrayfield Stadium on Saturday 26 June for the Vodafone Lions 1888 Cup will continue as scheduled. However, owing to the uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic, a decision on crowd size will be made nearer the time of the event and in line with the latest Scottish Government guidance. For more information, including ticketing enquiries, please visit: www.lionsrugby.com

“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,” said Lions managing director Ben Calveley.

“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.

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Lions return to terrestrial television on Channel 4

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Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

In addition to live coverage of the pre-Tour home game against Japan from BT Murrayfield on 26 June, Channel 4 will also show highlights of all three Tests against South Africa.

This will be the first time the Lions have been on terrestrial television since the 1993 Tour of New Zealand and highlights of all Castle Lager Lions Series Tour matches will also be shown on All4.

British & Irish Lions Managing Director Ben Calveley said: “We are delighted that Channel 4 are our broadcast partners for our first match on home soil since 2005.

“I am looking forward to the excellent coverage and analysis that Channel 4 will no doubt provide and going on the recent squad announcement I’m sure the interest and numbers tuning in will be considerable for this clash.”

Channel 4’s Head of Sport Pete Andrews added: “This is set to be a mouth-watering contest with Alun Wyn Jones leading the Lions against the reigning World Champions.

“It’s fantastic news for rugby fans who will relish the opportunity of seeing the British & Irish Lions in action on free-to-air television.”

Source – British & Irish Lions

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Jones: Being named Lions captain for 2021 Tour ‘a huge privilege’

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The 35-year-old Wales legend will look to emulate Willie John McBride in 1974 and Martin Johnson in 1997 by leading the tourists to a series victory against the Springboks.

It will be Jones’ fourth consecutive Tour, 12 years after first donning the famous red shirt for the first time in all three Tests of the dramatic 2009 series defeat in South Africa.

Gatland names British & Irish Lions squad for 2021 Tour

He has won a further six caps for the Lions since then, against Australia in 2013 and New Zealand in 2017, with his nine Tests more than any other player in the professional era.

And upon learning Warren Gatland had selected him to be his skipper, Jones reflected on the great players who have previously captained the Lions before him.

“It is a huge privilege to be selected in the squad initially. That is what you want to hear first as a player,” said Jones, who led Wales to the 2021 Six Nations title.

“To have the armband is a privilege in the fact of when you look who has gone before and what they have achieved in this jersey and for their respective home nations.

“I had a call from Gats (Warren Gatland) on Sunday evening, well, a missed call actually. I thought I had better give him a call back. We had a quick chat and I accepted obviously.

“Initially the draw is to get into the squad, and then anything can happen from there and you have your hat in the mix to be selected and obviously having the armband is a huge privilege.

“But initially it was all about the squad selection and I have a huge amount of pride to add this to the CV but there is a lot of work to do and some huge games to face.”

Being selected as Lions captain is the latest honour to be added to Jones’ remarkable CV, which includes five Six Nations titles – three of which were Grand Slams – with Wales.

He also holds the all-time record for the most Test appearances, with 157 during his illustrious 15-year career so far, including the nine consecutive caps won for the tourists.

Gatland explains why he named Alun Wyn Jones as his Lions captain

But South Africa will not be the first time Jones has captained the Lions, with the lock leading the tourists in the decisive third Test win in Sydney against the Wallabies in 2013.

Not being a man prone to self-promotion, Jones admitted he only told his closest inner circle about being awarded the armband again – an achievement steeped in history.

“Obviously [I told] the nearest and dearest, kept it pretty tight on request from Gats for obvious reasons but a lot of these things seem to get out one way or another,” he said.

“I can just tell Gats it was kept tight my end. It is just obviously a hot topic, but it is nice that it is announced now and official.

“As a child growing up, as a supporter and now as a professional, the significance of this honour isn’t lost on me.

“As a rugby player you want to be involved in those Test matches this summer, but there is a long way to go and a lot of rugby to play before then.”

Jones could match fellow Wales and Lions legend Graham Price in South Africa by playing in 12 consecutive Tests and he is well aware of the importance of the tourists.

talkSPORT wins exclusive rights to broadcast Lions Tour

“I think the word that was definitely used in last couple of Tours I have been on is custodianship,” he said, when asked to explain what the Lions means to him.

“Once you become a Lion you might not see people for a while or interact, but you are all connected through the jersey across the home nations.

“That is something very, very special. It is hard to explain but I like to think it is something that hasn’t changed from amateur through to professionalism.

“Growing up you want to play for your country and dream about playing for the Lions.”

But despite finding out he would be leading the Lions in South Africa on Sunday, Jones revealed he had to wait and find out who would be joining him like everybody else.

“It was just a one to one, no other information is passed on,” he said of the call with Gatland. “As a supporter for so long that is what makes it special, finding out who is selected that way.

“Lions is all about the supporters so the fact they find out at the same time as the players it is really special. This is something I’m hugely proud of and passionate about.”

He added: “I want to say a huge thank you to my wife, my sister and my mum, for all their support through all the tough times and particularly the good times.”

Source – British & Irish Lions by Andy Baber

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