Rugby

England’s Jones, dwelling union captains urge Lions tour to be held in 2021

England coach Eddie Jones and the captains of the 4 dwelling unions have mentioned they need the British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa to go forward this yr moderately than 2022.

The tour, scheduled for July 3-Aug. 7, is in doubt due to the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to be a disaster in South Africa and Britain, and numerous different eventualities are being mentioned.

These embody enjoying three checks towards the Springboks in the UK and Eire, or pushing matches again 12 months, which brings its personal issues with a full worldwide calendar within the yr earlier than the following World Cup.

Wales skipper Alun Wyn Jones, a veteran of three Lions excursions, together with their final journey to South Africa in 2009, instructed it will be robust to discover a date for the fixtures if they aren’t performed as scheduled.

“I believe it must go forward this yr, however the jury is out on the place it is going to occur,” he informed reporters on Wednesday. “It might be a travesty if the followers weren’t in a position to go and see it. However from a captain’s perspective, I believe all of us agree that, if it could possibly, it ought to go forward this yr.”

His view was echoed by Scotland’s Stuart Hogg who mentioned: “Well being and security should be the first focus within the determination.

“The Lions is an unbelievable time for everyone concerned, gamers and supporters, so hopefully there may be a way the tour can go forward in 2021 and we’d sit up for that.”

England’s Jones mentioned shifting dates to July 2022 would disrupt his preparations for the World Cup in France, however didn’t dismiss it as an possibility.

“We might simply deal with it if it occurs and work out a special preparation,” Jones mentioned. “That is the problem presently. I keep in mind somebody saying readability is the brand new intelligent. Not too many individuals are intelligent in the meanwhile and we do not have an excessive amount of readability.”

He added: “It permits our greatest gamers to have an exquisite expertise of being coached by good coaches and enjoying with good gamers, and to play towards the very best nations from the Southern Hemisphere.

“That is a large benefit for the 4 dwelling nations to have that have of with the ability to go on a tour along with the very best gamers within the British Isles, play collectively, study from one another and have nice experiences. We’re all hopeful it goes forward.”

Six Nations chief govt Ben Morel mentioned they have been taking a wait-and-see strategy.

“I’ve bought sufficient challenges to deal with on my facet so I’ve not been concerned within the Lions dialog, though clearly I am very effectively conscious of the challenges they’re going through,” he mentioned.

“I perceive the exhausting choices that can must be made and we’ll see comparatively quickly what’s finally determined.”

South African Rugby has mentioned it is going to do “no matter it takes” to play the Lions both this yr or in 2022 and is open to matches going down within the UK.

A choice on the tour is predicted earlier than the top of February.

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