Tuesday, December 15 marks 200 days to go until the opening match of the 2021 British & Irish Lions’ tour to South Africa.
The highly-anticipated tour will kick off on Saturday, July 3 – exactly 28 weeks and four days from now.
FIRST MATCH TO TAKE PLACE IN CAPE TOWN
With those 200 days likely to fly past, the first match will see the Stormers welcome the British & Irish Lions to what will be their new home, the Cape Town Stadium.
Thereafter, the British & Irish Lions – and their legion of supporters – will make their way up the east coast to Port Elizabeth where they will play a midweek clash (Wednesday, July 7) against a South Africa Invitational side at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Next stop will be Durban for a match against the Sharks (Saturday, July 10) at Kings Park.
Another Wednesday match (July 14) awaits thereafter at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit against a South Africa ‘A’ side.
Staying on the highveld, the British & Irish Lions will next tackle the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday, July 17.
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Then it’s down to serious business.
The world champion Springboks and their British & Irish Lions visitors will square off in three Tests on consecutive weekends starting on Saturday, July 24 at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.
A flight back to Cape Town awaits for the second Test at the Cape Town Stadium (the only venue to host two matches on the tour) on Saturday, July 31.
Then it’s off to Gauteng again for the third – and potentially deciding – Test at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on August 7.
14TH BRITISH & IRISH LIONS TOUR TO SA
The 2021 British & Irish Lions tour will be the 14th to South Africa since their maiden voyage back in 1891.
Of the previous 13 tours, the Springboks have won eight, the British & Irish Lions have triumphed in four and there has been one series stalemate (in 1955).
Overall, 46 Tests have been played, with the Springboks coming out on top in 23, the British & Irish Lions in 17, while six matches have ended in draws.
The Springboks have scored 600 points in total, while conceding 516 for an average final score of 13-11 in South Africa’s favour.
BIGGEST MARGIN OF VICTORY
The Springboks’ biggest ever margin of victory (20 points) came in the fourth and final Test of the 1962 tour at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein when they won 34-14.
That 1962 tour saw the British & Irish Lions play 25 matches, although they did start in Rhodesia and end in current day Kenya.
The British & Irish Lions’ biggest margin of victory (19 points) has occurred on two occasions, coincidently by the same final score: 28-9.
The first occasion was on their dominant 1974 tour when they won 21 of their 22 matches, only being held to a controversial draw in the final Test in Johannesburg.
That British & Irish Lions’ squad – known at the ‘Invincibles’ – boasted household names like JPR Williams, Phil Bennett, Ian McGeechan, Gareth Edwards, Fran Cotton, Fergus Slattery, Mervyn Davies and was skipped by the great Willie John McBride.
FANS WILL BE HOPING COVID-19 PLAYS NOW PART
They won the second Test 28-9 in Pretoria.
That margin was matched, somewhat ominously, in the most recent Test played between the two teams at Ellis Park in 2009.
The Springboks had already clinched the series 2-0 at that stage after 5 and 3-point margins of victory in Durban and Pretoria.
Rugby fans will be holding thumbs that Covid-19 is a thing of the past come mid-2021 and the tour goes ahead in front of packed stadiums around the country.