British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa continues despite tougher public restrictions, but supporters unlikely to attend
- British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa continues despite restrictions
- There has been a spate of Covid cases, with Gauteng province being hit hard
- Any hope that fans will be allowed to attend the tournament seems to be fading
The Lions tour of South Africa has yet to go ahead despite the announcement of tougher public restrictions by the host country’s government, but hopes of crowds being admitted seem to be fading fast.
In a national speech on Sunday evening, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed the implementation of ‘level two alert’ amid a worrying rise in Covid cases. Gauteng province, where the Lions will play five of their eight games, including two Tests, is already officially considered to be in a third wave of the pandemic.
For now, there is no imminent threat of the Lions tour being called off, with a leading source telling sports mail that the tightened lockdown measures will have ‘no influence’ on the plans. The British and Irish squad and staff will fly in and out of South Africa on charter flights and remain in a Covid bubble during their stay.
Warren Gatland’s British and Irish lions can still tour South Africa as planned
South Africa’s rugby authorities had been hoping to get permission to welcome some local fans to the matches, with the priority being to negotiate permission for 25-50 percent capacity for the tests, the first in Cape Town, followed by two at the 95,000-seat FNB Stadium in Soweto.
Springbok’s new head coach, Jacques Nienaber, will designate 45 players on Saturday to form the Springbok squad and also a South African ‘A’ side to face the Lions in Cape Town on July 14. Sales twins Dan and Jean-Luc du Preez are reportedly on track for inclusion, as a reward for their stellar contribution to their club’s Premiership title challenge.
The 25-year-old Durban brothers were the mainstays of the Sale package and were both once again highly influential as Alex Sanderson’s team pushed aside leaders Bristol at AJ Bell Stadium last Friday.
Springboks new head coach Jacques Nienaber will designate 45 players to form the squad on Saturday and also a South African ‘A’ side to face the Lions on July 14.
Harlequins wing Nathan Earle is about to sign for Newcastle
The siblings are likely to form a large Sale contingent in the Bok squad, along with Faf de Klerk and Lood de Jager, with whore Akker van der Merwe another key contender. Locks Cobus Wiese and JP du Preez may also have caught Nienaber’s attention.
Saracens are considering appealing after their championship game against Hartpury University was canceled due to a Covid outbreak in the Hartpury squad, and an arbitration board ruled it should be recorded as a 0-0 draw, with no league points awarded.
If the verdict stands, it means Saracens will finish second in the table behind Ealing Trailfinders, ahead of their two-leg playoff finals later this month.
Harlequin’s wing Nathan Earle is set to move to Newcastle this summer after three years with The Stoop. The 26-year-old, who rose through the ranks at Saracens before moving through London in 2018, made a try-scoring for England against the Barbarians in 2017 but remains uncovered.