The British & Irish Lions could make history on an eight-game tour of South Africa in 2021, with Warren Gatland’s side set to play in front of the largest-ever crowd for a Lions Test in the professional era, after the itinerary was jointly announced on Wednesday.
The hotly-anticipated tour will span the length and breadth of South Africa, visiting some of the most impressive stadiums in world sport and culminating in three Test matches against the newly-crowned Rugby World Cup champions, the Springboks.
FNB Stadium in Johannesburg will host the first Test on Saturday 24 July and with a capacity of approximately 88,000 spectators, a sell-out crowd would be higher than the 84,188 who witnessed the series decider against the Wallabies in 2001.
The second Test follows a week later at the Cape Town Stadium – the first Lions Test in the Mother City since 1997 – before the British tourists return to Gauteng for the final Test on Saturday 7 August at Ellis Park.
The combined capacity for the three Test venues is just below 205,000, which could make the three Tests on the 2021 tour the best-attended since professionalism, potentially surpassing the 192,972 people who attended the three Tests in Australia in 2013.
The eight-game schedule includes six weekend fixtures; three against Vodacom Super Rugby teams the Bulls, Sharks and Stormers, and two-midweek fixtures against an invitational side in Port Elizabeth and South Africa ‘A’ in Nelspruit.
Saturday 3 July: British & Irish Lions v DHL Stormers – Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
Wednesday 7 July: British & Irish Lions v South Africa Invitational – Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Saturday 10 July: British & Irish Lions v Cell C Sharks – Jonsson Kings Park, Durban
Wednesday 14 July: British & Irish Lions v South Africa ‘A’ – Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Saturday 17 July: British & Irish Lions v Vodacom Bulls – Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Saturday 24 July (First Test): Springboks v British & Irish Lions – FNB Stadium, Johannesburg
Saturday 31 July (Second Test): Springboks v British & Irish Lions – Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
Saturday 7 August (Third Test): Springboks v British & Irish Lions – Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg